Enjoy the best of Spain’s beaches during the coming season
AT THIS time of year, Spain’s beaches can show us their most beautiful profile. Those who are able to escape to the Spanish coasts during this period are truly privileged. Visitors arriving at this time of year can enjoy the beautiful autumnal light of the coastline which is not only a luxury but also a free gift. The temperatures are still high and a refreshing dip in the sea comes highly recommended. Here are some suggestions for the best Spanish beaches during the autumn months:
The Cíes Islands
These small islands on the coast of the Rias Baixas, near Vigo became famous when British newspaper, The Guardian declared Playa de Rodas, linking two of these islands together, the best beach in the world.
ThinkSPAIN|today has its own opinions about rankings and journalists’ use of them and believes their high positionings can never quite express the reality. Spain has many of the world’s best beaches and there is no doubt that those of the Cíes Islands are some of the greatest.
The Cíes Islands were nicknamed by Ptolomy as The Islands of the Gods. And they seem to be no less than that. The Cíes consist of three islands: Monteagudo or North Island, Montefaro and San Martiño or South Island.
Additionally, nearby are smaller islets such as A Agoeira or Boeiro, Penela dos Viños, Carabelos and O Ruzo. The archipelago stretches over 2,658 maritime and 433 terrestrial hectares.
The inhabitants of nearby city Vigo are very proud of the islands, not only because they offer a paradise of white sands and transparent waters, but also because theyform a perfect natural barrier for Vigo’s port, which thanks to this archipelago is one of the safest in the world.
The Dunes of Guardamar
Running down the Costa Blanca are hundreds of marvellous picturesque enclaves, one of them being the beaches of Guardamar del Segura to the southeast of the province of Alicante. These beaches probably have more sand on them than any other beach in the Comunitat Valenciana. In the autumn, they are a true delight for a barefooted stroll.
Guardamar’s dunes are also famously known for the extensive pine forests that line the beaches, planted at the beginning of the 20th century to stop the dune’s slow encroachment inland. It almost feels like Africa here, yet offers all the services of a modern European coastline. The sandiest beaches are in the south with names like Moncaio, El Camp and Les Ortigues.
For an overnight stay near the beaches is Hotel Meridional (Tel. 96 572 83 40). It has a fine restaurant, El Jardín, at which visitors can try out its delicious rice dish: senyoret.
Another excellent restaurant nearby is La Saranda (Tel. 96 672 50 29), where the visitor can enjoy beautifully prepared and deliciously cooked wild sea-bass.
Head for La Manga
On the shores of the Mar Menor, La Manga – a narrow strip of land that separates this inland sea from the Mediterranean – has become one of the biggest tourist resorts on the Costa Cálida (second photo).
The two nature reserves that flank this coast attract particular interest from visitors – the Parque Regional de las Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro, and Las Salinas de Marchamalo y Las Amoladeras.
La Manga is highly popular because it allows visitors to choose between the waters of both seas, separated by less than a kilometre, making it a truly unique. The calmness and relative shallowness of these waters also makes them the ideal spot for even the youngest children to enjoy swimming in the sea.
El Cabo de Gata
It is in Almería that the traveller will come across one of the many paradises of the Spanish Mediterranean coastline: Cabo de Gata (third photo). A protected natural volcanic reserve covering an expansive terrestrial and maritime area, considered one of the most outstanding areas of ecological importance on the Mediterranean Sea and indeed in Western Europe.
This is a beautiful strip of the Mediterranean coast with its rich diversity of flora and fauna. It covers 38,000 hectares, 12,000 of those being below sea level. Mythical beaches exist here: some of the first to be enjoyed by overseas visitors to Spain.
La Playa de Las Negras is one of them. The village is charming and has been a focal point for artists and bohemians from all over Europe.
Four kilometres further along is La Cala San Pedro which is more than just a beach. It is a way of life, a philosophy, it is a shelter and a refuge for those who still believe in a world exempt of and unsullied by materialism.
The beach attracts nudists and embodies a village and its ruins. Here the only rule of thumb is mutual respect and peaceful and harmonious living.
To reach La Cala San Pedro requires a four kilometre walk along narrow footpaths bordering the mountains that virtually touch the seashore. In the summer, the walk can be an arduous hike and a bit of an ordeal due to the immense heat. The advantage of going to Cala San Pedro in the autumn months, is it is no more than an enchanting, breathtaking and unforgettable ramble.
La Costa Brava
The Costa Brava has some of the most exclusive and beautiful bays and sights found on the Mediterranean: fine, white and soft sands contrast with ferocious and rocky inlets. The name Costa Brava, ferocious, stormy coast, was not coined long ago, the name, in fact, has no traditional nor historical roots.
It was a Spanish journalist, Ferrán Agulló, who christened the shoreline which runs the entire length of the province of Gerona in Cataluña. The name stuck and now the world uses it to refer to the Catalán coast.
Cliffs fall sharply into the sea with various rocky shapes and forms jutting into the waves creating unusual coves and bays. A wonderful example is Mar Menuda (main photo) near the town of Tossa del Mar, 35 kms from Gerona. Sitting in this cove watching the waves as they meet the cliffs is an experience that should not to be missed. The cove earned its name Little Sea because of the calmer waters there.
Tossa is one of the most beautiful spots on the Costa Brava. Marc Chagall christened the area The Blue Paradise in 1933. A stroll through the medieval, walled quarter, Vila Vella, finding the Tower of Joanas or coming across the old parochial church of Tossa are just some of the options that make the town unforgettable.
The best surf
Sea-bathing and swimming are assured at this time of year if the Canary Islands is our destination. Also the traveller will find they are virtually alone with kilometres and kilometres of coastline and beaches.
If surfing is on the agenda, this is the right place to be: the Atlantic Ocean offers relatively safe and almost perfect surfing conditions. On the north coast of Gran Canaria, between El Puertillo (Arucas) and La Guancha (Gáldar), there are at least 10 excellent surfing spots. In San Andrés (Arucas), the Los Enanos beach is ideal for all skill levels. On La Caleta beach (Moya), there is a more powerful and ambitious breaking wave which demands experience and expertise from the board rider.
All aspects of surfing on these beaches can be consulted at The Club de Surf Oleaje. Tel. 686 161 344 and www.cluboleaje.com.
The Balearic Islands
Hiking in Mallorca
It is time to replace bikini, suncream and towels withrucksacks, hiking sticks and chocolate bars, ready for some extensive beach trekking. In the Balearics you can head off on one of the most unique beach walking excursions in Spain.
From October 1, the maritime service between Port de Sóller and Cala Tuent (www.barcosazules.com) starts up again for the autumn season. The ride brings passengers back from one of the most isolated beaches in Mallorca. The boat ride picks passengers up at five o’clock in the afternoon after four hours of coastline and beach walks, returning from some truly breathtaking and isolated Mallorcan beauty spots.
This coastal hike, Sa Costera, takes walkers from the Ses Barques lookout and viewpoint to the Cala Tuent, passing along empty beaches and away from the busier beaches of Sa Calobra. Midway along the route, in the valley of Bàlitx, there is a resting area serving fresh orange juice and other refreshments. Here too is an opportunity to buy honey, olives and locally made marmalade.
Arriving at Cala Tuent, the only existing restaurant, Es Vergeret (971 51 71 05), offers the ravenous walker paella and rice dishes. The weary can rest and restock from the comfort of the restaurant’s magnificent terrace.
Another strenuous walk for the very hardy is the seven kilometre hike from the expansive beach of Formentor to the Cala de Sant Pere (Mal Pas). These are just a few suggestions for autumnal visits, but Spain offers many others.
The important thing is not just to arrive at recommended places but to discover how to enjoy the season and everything it has on offer plus any nearby beauty spots. The Spanish coasts are fabulous, the sea is startling, and the light on the waves is mesmerising.
Whoever said that autumn is a sad season – they couldn’t have been in Spain at the time – that’s for sure!