Planning a holiday in the Costa del Sol? If so, our expert on Spain, George Prior, has researched the best beaches and things to do in this Spanish region to make your life easier so you can spend more time enjoying your trip!
Along the Costa del Sol’s 160 kilometre coastline you’ll find an enormous variety of beaches where you can splash around in the surf and work on your tan.
From small rocky coves to extensive sandy stretches filled with rows of identikit sunbeds; from beaches lined with hotels, bars and restaurants, to those bordering pine forests, protected dunes and fertile plains, the scope of seafront fun on offer has meant the Costa del Sol has been one of Europe’s most popular and versatile holiday destinations for decades.
The beaches, coupled with the great range of cultural, historic and family-orientated attractions, mean that southern Spain’s coastline will remain a much-loved vacation location for many years to come.
Useful things to know about the beaches in the Costa del Sol
You can still find some areas that remain largely undeveloped, but, confirms the popular travel site Andalucia.com, “most locations are backed by development” adding that “most towns have recently modernised paseo maritimos (promenades)”.
- Most beaches have light greyish sand, although many areas have imported sand which tends to be whiter and finer.
- There are six nudist beaches for “those who want to ensure there are no tan lines” says Simonseeks.com.
- Should you want a sunbed and parasol for the day it will cost, on most beaches, between four and six euros.
- Andalucia.com reports that the Mediterranean water is “warm and safe” – ideal for swimming and watersports.
- Sunday afternoons are always the busiest times on a Costa del Sol beach.
- It is illegal to buy goods such as watches and sunglasses from beach hawkers – but lots of people do.
- Queues for the main attractions can be long at peak times – lunchtimes are often the quietest times to visit.
- Check with the local tourist office or your hotel before heading off to the attraction as some close on holidays, depending on what type of holiday it is – a national, regional, local or religious.
- Remember, it gets very hot in the summer months so wear appropriate clothing (including a sunhat and sunglasses), and take plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
The best beaches and things to do on the Costa del Sol
Presided over by Nerja’s most famous landmark, the Balcón de Europa, one of the Costa del Sol’s most photogenic sandy coves, Calahonda beach, gets the seal of approval by Tripadvisor members. One summarises its appeal: “Great location, small, secluded and very special. I like this beach because it’s so central to Nerja.”
La Malagueta is Malaga city’s longest and most popular beach. “It’s a mere 15 minutes’ stroll (if you’re taking it very easy) from the main shopping district” plus “there’s a huge selection of ‘authentic’ (read: loud and lively) chiringuitos (beachbars), serving locally-caught fish and seafood,” according to simonseeks.com
Malapesquera beach, a “lovely stretch of clean white sand”, says one Tripadvisor reviewer, is on the western side of Benalmádena’s beautiful, award-winning leisure marina, and is a watersports enthusiast’s idea of a great day out. Jet-skis, kayaks, bananaboats, pedalos, waterskiing – it’s all offered here.
Estepona’s ‘Blue Flag’ awarded, El Cristo, is a beautiful, horse shoe-shaped bay with golden sands and a ‘must-do’ for any beach lover. A Tripadvisor contributor describes it as a “great place for people of any age.”
A favourite beach with locals, which is gaining popularity with holidaymakers, is Guadalmina, located between San Pedro (Marbella) and Estepona. The tourist board website says: “Its exceptional surroundings include the third-century AD Roman ruins known as Las Bóvedas, which are located within a protected archaeological site. This beach has been blueflagged since 1992 thanks to its excellent water quality.”
The Nerja Caves are Andalucía’s second most visited attraction (after the Alhambra in Granada) and it is here, it’s recently been proved, where man ‘crossed over’ with Neanderthals. Highlights include the world’s biggest stalactite, prehistoric drawings, and huge natural ‘halls’ which are now used for concerts. Tripadvisor reviewers say they are “worth a visit”, “amazing” and a “must-see.”
Even those of us who hate traditional zoos, love Selwo Adventure, a 100 hectare safari park near Estepona. You can get up close and personal with 2,000 animals from five continents. Bloggers say they enjoyed the “great safari truck rides” and one described it as “Africa and Asia in Andalucía.”
For more information read Hassle Free Costa del Sol
Map of the Costa del Sol
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The best websites and forums
- Tripadvisor’s Costa del Sol forum is awash with detailed reviews and opinions: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g187435-i317-Costa_del_Sol_Andalucia.html
- The Tourist Board’s site gives a detailed analysis of every Costa del Sol beach: http://www.visitcostadelsol.com/what-to-do-and-see/beaches#productlist=/what-to-do-and-see/beaches
- Independent travel site, Andalucia.com has the lowdown on all the most popular beaches in southern Spain: http://www.andalucia.com/beaches/cds.htm