The Seaside Near Granada
The coast near Granada owes its name, Costa Tropical, to the warm and temperate weather that exists in the area all year round. The rugged cliff backed seaside has been somewhat spared the sprawling, ugly building boom of the close by Costa del Sol, where pretty fishing villages have been turned into vast expat and mass tourist communities.
Fog and Drizzle
Our last day in the Las Alpujarras had arrived and we had to return to Malaga for our flight back to London. To give us a break during the drive we had decided to stop the secluded beach of Cala Cañuelo along this stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Unfortunately it did not look like the weather was on our side when we got up that morning, the mountains and the village had disappeared in a soup of thick fog and drizzle.
Leaving the Sierra Nevada
After checking out of our Airbnb apartment and saying goodbye to our lovely host, we had breakfast at a local bar, El Quinto Pino. After two rounds of churros and hot chocolate for Jerome and tostadas for us we left the pretty white villages of Bubion behind. By then the sun had penetrated the thick fog and clouds finding some gaps for the rays to shine through. The light was creating spotlights onto the otherwise grey, moody landscape, a mesmerising sight! The mountains of the Sierra Nevada slowly disappeared behind us as we drove south and west, past canyons, spectacular river gorges and a large water reservoir en route to the coast. Once we got closer to the seaside of the Costa Tropical we returned to a sprawl of haciendas with enormous olive and orange groves, plus entire fields covered in plastic greenhouses.
The Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo
Leaving the motorway that runs parallel to the shoreline at exit 305 for La Herradura, we could soon see the sea between the urbanisations. We avoided the urban sprawl here and found not far from La Herradura lies a small national park, the cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo. This stretch of the coast has been protected since the start of the tourism boom and shows how wild and rough the Spanish seaside in the area used to be. Among its jagged cliffs are several secluded coves and beaches that attract in summer a crowd of naturist sun seekers and beach goers looking for off the beaten track and a less crowded holiday experience than along the coast.
Access to the Beach
Most of these remote beaches are only accessible by car to local permit holders, tourists have to walk down the roads or paths by foot. This can be quite a time consuming and exhausting day out on the beach, especially when you carry all the beach equipment in the summer’s heat. As a result whilst the beaches are superb this might not be the ideal family day at the seaside, but certainly worth the effort if you want to get away from the busy beaches nearby and seek an authentic patch of shoreline.
Cala del Cañuelo
We had parked our car at the top of Cala del Cañuelo and decided that the walk down to the beach would not only do us some good after sometime in the car, we were also hopeful that one of the restaurants might be open for the locals and serve us some lunch. The tarmac road zigzagged through the hillside, every now and then we would glimpse the sea and discover little casitas hidden amid the pine trees and rocks. The view across the sea opened at every second bend on the steep road down and the beach below looked inviting despite the autumn temperatures.
Paradise on the Costa Tropical
At the bottom, luck was on our side and one of the beachside restaurants was open. El Paraiso del Cañuleo definitely deserved its name, seated on a table in the warm Autumn sun we truly felt like we had found a small paradise on the Costa Tropical. There was one other family on the pebbled beach, the kids busy throwing stones into the dumping waves. Our dishes of tapas were not the best we have ever tasted but they tasted good and served the purpose of filling our tummies. In all honesty, we have never had amazing food in any of the beach bars we have visited. However we were happy to play a few rounds of cards while the palm leaves gently swayed in the breeze, with the calming soundtrack of the waves in the background.
When we set out to return to our car, the restaurant owners offered us a ride in their minivan back to the top but we gratefully declined, happy to walk uphill taking in the sea views before returning to the airport and the concrete jungle of London.
Aqueduct of Aguila (Eagle Aqueduct)
With time to spare, instead of driving straight back on the motorway we took the side road to Maro and Nerja. This truned out to be good choice, just before we reached the outskirts of Nerja, we stumbled upon the ancient Aqueduct of Aguila (Eagle aqueduct). This beautiful aqueduct is a jewel of historical Spanish architecture and dates back to the 19th century. The four storied, brick structure was built to transport water to a sugar cane factory and is still in use today. The impressive aqueduct with its horseshoe shaped archways and red and yellow paint reminded me of Mexican haciendas. I would have loved to walk up to the aqueduct from below through the riverbed but unfortunately we did not have enough time left before we had to be at the airport in Malaga.
Costa Del Sol
Our short drive through the nearly deserted tourist town of Nerja, confirmed our suspicion that the Costa del Sol was not made for us as a holiday destination! However we enjoyed exploring inland both Granada and the Sierra Nevada and they will tempt us back again to explore more.
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