Andalucia’s Best Beaches

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Belinda Beckett Set Off On An Eco Beach-Combing Trail To The Easterly And Westerly Extremes To Pick Out Andalucia’s best beaches.

They’re the region’s most pristine playas, environmental gems protected as national and natural parks and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Some are Natural Monuments. Not strictly virginal, their charms have already been uncovered by birdwatchers, naturists, hard-core hikers and high season tourists.

But some play very hard to get, hiding below towering cliffs or across deserts of prickly pear, far from tarmac roads and civilisation.

They also come with a safety warning: strong currents and stiff Levante winds can make swimming treacherous and most of these beaches have no lifeguards, first aid posts or safety flags.

Another snag of there being no services (no loos, showers, cafes selling menús del día and bottles of ice cold water) is that you have to lug all your beach paraphernalia with you – cold boxes, beach brollies, loungers, windsurfers, tents, towels – along trails more suited to Indiana Jones than the average family as Harrison Ford would confirm (one of Almeria’s beaches was a location for the Last Crusade).

There’s no handy beach parking either. These are protected areas with designated car parks governed by strict daily traffic quotas and they’re usually a fair trek from the surf.

Later you have to cart all your wet stuff back to the car, taking your rubbish with you as there are no bins, which rather puts these beautiful beaches out of reach of the very young, the very old and anyone with a mobility problem.

But the effort, if you’re up to it, will reward you with wow factor; virgin sands, snorkelling-quality water, rock pool aquariums swimming with tiny fish and crustaceans, Instagrammable geological formations and some of the most untainted coastal landscapes on the planet. For the planet’s sake, be sure to keep them that way!

THE AGATE CAPE
For high drama, nothing beats the beaches that cluster beneath Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park’s rust-red lava cliffs.

Volcanic rock formations and an eerie spaghetti western landscape provide the backdrop to a collection of over 50 coves and bays whose added attractions extend underwater to include sea grass beds, coral reefs and rock pools teeming with marine life. It was a tough task narrowing the choice down to a fab five…

Words Belinda Beckett / Photography courtesy of Shutterstock

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