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The Coastline of Andalucía

Few shores are better known or better visited than Spain’s Mediterranean coastline, and yet there is much about it that remains little known or discovered. To millions of tourists annually, the beaches of Andalucía are above all a place to relax, soak up the sun and immerse oneself in the sights and sounds of summer. While it cannot be denied that this will remain the staple for many more years to come, the Andalusian coastline does offer a lot more variety of form and function than a conventional day at the beach would suggest. We highlight a few of the best…


Where along the coast you unfold your deck chair depends on where your preferences lay. If you’re really looking for the best beaches, the Costa de la Luz offers some of the longest, whitest, finest and most peaceful stretches of sandy beach anywhere in Europe. Add sunny weather, deep blue skies and the kind of rich light that bathes the world in a golden glow, and you’ve got your beachside paradise. Ok, it’s not tropical, but then again, the drier climate is actually more pleasant and less conducive to cloudy, soggy conditions, so the beaches of Bolonia, Matalascañas and Trafalgar, to name a few, are actually pretty good competition for the Bounty-ad type scene one would hope to encounter in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean or South Pacific.

About an hour and a half’s drive from Marbella, this is a rugged, peaceful but above all, beautiful part of the world, where large stretches of sand and dune continue undisturbed. In winter, the winds and waves coming off the Atlantic batter this coast, turning it into a melancholy scene often covered in mist, but in summer that famous light shines through and the world seems at ease with itself. The blue of the sky, sea green of the water and light tan colouring of the sand complete a picture illuminated by the warm rays of the sun. Here, even the sound of children playing or dogs barking blends in with the lulling soundtrack of breaking waves and passing seagulls. You may have to bring your own picnic or get into the car to find lunch, but the beauty is that this paradise is neither spoiled nor crowded.


Nicht weit von diesem Paradies der Ruhe und des Wohlbefindens entfernt liegt Tarifa, Europas Kite-Surfing-Mekka und Zentrum einer Hippie-Surfing-Kultur, die Trendigkeit mit aufrichtiger Entspanntheit verbindet. Wie an der Costa de la Luz, deren östlichste Ausdehnung dies ist, sind die oft kräftigen Winde der einzige Schandfleck am ansonsten gemäßigten Horizont, aber im Fall von Tarifa sind es genau die Winde, die die Stadt gemacht haben. In der Vergangenheit als Spaniens "Selbstmord-Hauptstadt" bekannt, sorgen die heulenden Winde und die schlagenden Fensterläden heute für ein seewärts gerichtetes Gedränge, an dem nicht nur einheimische Kitesurfer, sondern auch Enthusiasten aus ganz Europa teilnehmen. Als beliebtes Wochenendziel für Residenten an der Costa del Sol bietet Tarifa alles, was das Herz begehrt: hübsche kleine Boutique-Hotels, flippige Cafés und Restaurants, eine bezaubernde Altstadt, herrliche Ausblicke über das Meer bis nach Marokko, feine weiße Strände und eine Beach-Bum-Attitüde, die eine kultige Anhängerschaft hervorgebracht hat. Im Sommer ist Tarifa in seinem Element, wenn das Surfen und Sonnenbaden durch Strandpartys, Musikveranstaltungen, Raves und gutes, altmodisches Chillen ergänzt wird. Wenn Sie gerne Windsurfen, Kitesurfen, Bodyboarden oder am Strand bronzen - und das mit einem Hauch von Stil - dann ist Tarifa der richtige Ort. Mit einer Diät aus Wassersport, Reggae-Musik, "Kräutertee" und Wohlwollen gegenüber allen, werden Sie einen etwas anderen Sommer erleben.



Beach Clubs

For those who are into style and sophistication, of course, there is nowhere in Andalucía quite like Marbella. With a beach for every occasion, and a suitable restaurant, chiringuito or beach club always nearby, the sophisticated beachgoer knows exactly where to go to be where it’s at. From beachside cocktail parties, launches and private events to simple beach shacks, trendy sea-fronting nightclubs, posh restaurants and old favourites, the Marbella coastline offers it all. A variety of tastes and budgets are catered for, but if you really want to do it the Marbella way, you must be willing and able to party your way through the latest, hottest nightspots, spending the day on the beach recovering from the night’s exertions.

With waiter service, a refreshing blue sea and bronzing bodies around you it can’t exactly be described as a hardship, but come early enough and you’ll see joggers and yoga instructors rather than swimming children or tanning beauties. The stretch between Puerto Banús and Marbella is particularly noted for its trendy beaches and accompanying dining and nightspots, but in recent years they have been joined by high-profile beach clubs of the kind that created a sensation in such places as Florida and the Côte d’Azur. Here, shuttles take visitors to and from their yachts directly to the pool deck, restaurant and nightclub. If techno music is not your thing and a romantic beachside dinner accompanied by live music is more to your taste, there are beach clubs that bring style and setting together to great effect, proving that in Marbella it’s not what you do, but how you do it.

Scuba Diving

No coastal analysis could be complete without a look at scuba diving. The numbers and dedication of the people who practice this sport have grown so much that they are fast becoming a sub-market within the tourist industry. In fact, divers are to water what golfers are to dry land, but whereas Andalucía is a golfer’s paradise, it is not quite as famous for its diving. It’s hard to compete with the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the Red Sea or the Barrier Reef, but if you are in southern Spain there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a bit of diving.

The part of the coast that is best suited to diving is the Costa Tropical, situated about an hour and a half’s drive east of Marbella, but markedly different in character due to massive cliffs that plunge from great heights headlong into the sea. Small coves with pretty, sandy beaches and water that is both warm and aquamarine in colour create the right conditions for a diving expedition. The clarity of the water combines with the variety of things to see, from schools of fish and banks of anemones to a liberal distribution of shipwrecks. With all those Spanish Galleons down there, it would be hard to imagine there isn’t still some bullion waiting to be discovered, but these days the wrecks serve mostly as homes to a wide variety of sea creatures.

Open nature

Finally, if open nature—or for that matter, naturism—is your interest and you like to get as far away from the crowds as possible, go to the far eastern corner of the Andalusian coastline, and you will be amazed how peaceful it suddenly becomes. No cars, radios, televisions, computer games…just birds and wind. Within the sanctuary of a national park lays the practically surreal landscape of Cabo de Gata, in the province of Almería. Untouched by most tourists, save nudists, hippies and nature lovers, the Cabo de Gata offers an opportunity to get to grips with an altogether different kind of coast. There are no waiters or stylish restaurants here, not even snack bars, but surrounded by the beauty of nature and the ability to let all the everyday things go, it—like all the other sections of the coast—offers its own rewards.

© Michel Cruz

The Coastline of Andalucía by and copyright of Michel Cruz, for more information visit his web site at

Images used in this article are copyright of Carlos Cáceres Lavergne . If you would like to purchase or see more images, please visit his web site