The Costa de la Luz, is Western Spain’s ‘Coast of Light’ and includes the Cadiz and Huelva provinces. Tourists head for the beautiful Costa Del Sol in their droves, to sample the sunshine and sangria, however if you are the kind of traveller who would like to discover the wilder white sandy beaches with less crowds, and development, the Costa de la Luz is a must visit.
The Atlantic waves and wind of the Costa de la Luz offer more of a variety of sea conditions, attracting surfers, windsurfers, kite surfers and paddle boarders. Yes, this does mean the Costa is windy at times but as a family we loved the fresh air, open spaces and variety of quiet beaches. So many shells, sea glass, sand castles, boats, surf shacks and plenty of space to relax.
There is lots to keep you occupied and a fascinating history to discover too. We visited during March/April so saw more dog walkers, horse riders and surfers than sun bathers, but we did a bit of that too, these beaches are amazing! I’ll let the pictures do the talking, here are some of our favorites, starting at the border of Cadiz and Huelva provinces and heading all the way to the tip of Spain to the town of Tarifa….
Sanlucar de Barrameda – Treat yourself to fantastic Andalucian seafood in the old fishing village district called the Bajo de Guia, now a strip of seafood restaurants offering the freshest of ‘just caught’ fish. Bajo de Guia lies opposite a ferry gateway into the Parque Nacional de Donana, a nationally important and forward thinking conservation area. You can sit in the street at Bajo de Guia and tuck into fried fish whilst watching the ferry taking people to see migrating birds and wild lynx.
Sanlucar is also one part of the Sherry triangle, Sanlucar being the only place where Manzanilla Sherry can be made
Chipiona– Playa de la Regla has Spains tallest lighthouse at one end and a monastery at the other, excellent facilities and a blue flag award.
Rota– Another seaside town with blue flag beaches, and a beautiful medieval old town. Rota is not on the tourist map possibly due to the major US naval base. Over 15kms of glorious beaches altogether, some with views of the impressive warships!
Cadiz– The jewel of the Costa de la Luz, a beautiful city with friendly locals, delicious seafood, monuments of interest and stunning beaches. Europe’s oldest settlement is a wonderful, historic city well worth a day trip or longer to explore (blog post coming soon). If you are only in Cadiz for the day make sure to visit a beach and grab a surtido of mixed fried fish. The Playa de la Caleta is a small beach with a fort either side, whereas Playa de la Victoria is a 4km beach, popular with the locals. It is very difficult to park in Cadiz for free but your car worries evaporate as the sun sets blissfully into the sea here.
Sancti Petri (Chiclana de la Frontera) This beautiful remote section of beach curves around towards an abandoned fishing village, which is currently in the throws of re-development. There are now a few places to eat and or drink and beautiful fishing related murals bringing life back to the abandoned buildings. We walked from the old fishing village on several occasions to the first Chirunguitos ‘Bongo & Apreiteto’, right on the beach. What great places to sit and admire the sunset with a glass of vino…bliss!
La Barossa (Chiclana de la Frontera)- This popular beach is so big you could have completely different experiences on of end of the beach to another person on the other end. Small cliffs at one end, a massive golf hotel and complex at the other, with chirungitos beach bars in between. We had a great time watching the kite surfers going off while our boys played on the beach playgrounds.
Conil de la Frontera– Another beautiful beach, popular with the kite surfers, there is a pool of water here for the kite surfers to practice in before heading beyond into the big blue.
El Palmar– We all loved this place and will never forget visiting here. To get here you drive by rolling green fields, past cows and wind farms, did I mention this section of Spain is very windy? Turn off the main road and head to the coast to a surfers paradise. No high rise buildings, just a gorgeous remote beach and scary Atlantic waves. Sit and watch the surfers dropping into huge waves from the safety of your breakfast table at the very cool La Torre Restaurant. Photographers camp out on an old beach gun tower to get the best shots of the fearless surfers.
Los Canos de Meca– Amazing, this tiny, tiny place has a series of wonderful white beaches, popular locals, tourists and…herm…nudists! The absolute highlight is to visit Cabo de Trafalgar. Head towards the lighthouse, then look out to sea and try to contemplate the historic battle that took place here. Thousands of lives lost as Admiral Nelson took on Admiral Villeneuve over two hundred years ago. After exploring the beach relax at a great beach shack café/bar, ‘Las Dunas’. Worth a visit to marvel at the huge pieces of driftwood and handmade chunky wooden furniture around a circular fireplace; ultra cool with ambient chilled music.
Zahara de los Atunes– Another quiet fishing village famed for it’s Tuna catch. Another seemingly endless 12km stretch of beach, plus another golden sandy beach located next door in the exclusive no-through-road Atlanterra resort. Houses in this resort can cost €3 million with a garage included!
Bolonia– Wow! A small village with another huge beach but something pretty special… ‘Baelo Claudia’ is the remains of a Roman town, well preserved, right on the beach! You can pay to visit the site and museum or walk past on the boardwalk and picnic right in front of this fantastic Roman town, which we did! The beach also has a giant sand dune which seems to spew out of the pine forest onto the cliffs. It’s picture perfect here, a few fishing boats lie on the beach, oh and you have views of Africa too! This has to be one of my favorite beaches ever.
Tarifa– As you approach Tarifa you are more likely to tune into a North African radio station and your mobile phone may think you are in Morrocco, as you are so far south here! This is where the world class kite surfers come, which means i.e. is really, really windy. There is also clearly a much more international vibe here. Ferries cross to Tangiers and there are lots of interesting, modern, hip shops and restaurants. The wind is so powerful here, you can almost get blown away! With lots of beaches to choose from in this area, Playa Chica is a small but more sheltered option.
The Costa de la Luz, an amazing stretch of coast, something for everyone a heady mix of white sand, turquoise waters, green pines, surf, cliffs, promenades, chirunguitos, resorts, beach shacks and pretty much whatever you are looking for you, you can find. The E5 (N340) roads runs parallel to most of the beaches mentioned, a speedy and picturesque way to explore the stunning scenery of the area. Enjoy!