Of all things Spain is known and loved for by travellers, its idyllic beaches probably rank highest. You’ve only to visit one of Andalucia’s many bustling beach towns to see that. But such is the volume of these sandy stretches, there are inevitably many more you’ve never heard of. Think unspoiled landscapes, calm waves and enough room to swing a really big towel.
This post takes a look at several of these understated beach heroes, in the hope that you will be tempted to explore beyond your comfort zone when holidaying in Spain.
Playa de Rodas, The Cies Islands
Known as the ‘Galician Seychelles’ by the locals, the tiny Cies Islands can be found off Spain’s northwestern coast, near Galicia. The sand on Playa de Rodas is about as bleached white as sand can get, powdery to the touch and backed by a Jurassic-like landscape.
The beach itself extends for more than a kilometre, connecting the islands of Monteagudo and Faro. Regular boat trips from the mainland make day trips here easily doable, especially in summer, but there are hotels on the islands so spending your entire holiday here is also possible.
Platja de Llafranc, Costa Brava
Llafranc is one of those anonymous seaside towns in Costa Brava, with a much more authentic feel than heavyweight tourist resorts in the region. This is a big draw for holidaymakers looking to scale things back.
The town still has a slight cosmopolitan edge to it – this is the Costa Brava, after all, with its mass of cultural hotspots. The beach follows suit, and can get popular in summer. It’s a gold-sand bay with laid-back beach bars and a rocky inlet surrounded by leafy green hills.
El Bollullo Beach, Tenerife
A list of Spanish beaches can’t exist without a volcanic number to keep things interesting, and Tenerife’s El Bollullo Beach in the town of Puerto de la Cruz takes the spot here. Blanketed in volcanic black sand, it is a little off the beaten track, found at the base of a series of narrow roads cutting through banana plantations.
You must carefully walk down a steep set of steps to get to the beach itself, but a rewarding picture of high cliffs and crashing waves, the time spent getting here will be well worth it. Arrive early to beat the crowds, or better still, go in spring when there will be hardly anyone at all.
Tamarit Beach, Costa Dorada
Tamarit Beach is one of the prettiest in Spain because it’s scenic in a whole new way – anchoring its far right side is Tamarit Castle, a stony, 13th-century structure that keeps a close eye on the beach below. The beach is a combination of sand and pebbles, and is surrounded by a grove of pine trees.
In the summer, like most Spanish beaches, Tamarit can get pretty popular, but there’s plenty of room, especially for activities like snorkelling and diving, kayaking, pedalling out on water scooters or coasting on paddleboards. Tamarit Beach is also bordered by a plush camping site, so you don’t actually ever have to leave.
Cala El Golfet, Costa Brava
The residents of Calella de Palafrugell in Costa Brava have done a top job of keeping the beach known as Cala El Golfet a secret. Until recently, it wasn’t even signposted; you simply had to know the way.
But not anymore. Cala El Golfet is officially open for business, although getting there is still a little tricky. The beach is only around 75 metres in length, and if the tide is in, you might have to wade your way there. It is almost completely hidden from sight due to the cliffs, but once you drink in the cove’s rugged beauty, you won’t want to leave.
Monsul Beach, Andalucia
Stepping onto Monsul Beach, you’ll wonder if you’ve somehow reached another planet. The landscape here is that otherworldly. Sweeping sand dunes, groves of prickly pear cactus, volcanic rock and then, of course, the long, deserted beach. Such is the beauty of this beach that scenes from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shot here.
The beach itself is located within the Cabo de Gata natural park, so whole days can be easily spent exploring your surroundings here. Other beaches in the area include Playa de los Muertos and Playa de los Genoveses. There aren’t many beach facilities out this way – the volcanic rock will provide some shade – but you’d be wise to bring along your own snorkelling gear, as the diving here is top of the range.
The word is out on these waterfront gems – which Spanish beach will you head to next?