Rugged landscapes, hidden beaches and free tapas: Cabo de Gata Natural Park in a nutshell.
The Cabo de Gata area, located at the south easternmost tip of Spain, is vast and sparsely populated. Apart from greenhouses and the odd hamlet, the area is mountainous and desert-like as far as the eye can see. All of the coastal towns, however, are charming and bustling and offer some of the best beaches in Spain.
Base camp for the weekend was Níjar – a beautiful little Andalusian town famous for its pottery and jarapa rugs. Its central location means that nearly all of Cabo de Gata’s beaches can be reached in about a half hours drive.
A cove that kept being mentioned on our quest for The Perfect Beach was Cala de Enmedio. Enmedio? It is literally in the middle of nowhere and is only reachable on foot, up a sketchy mountain “path” surrounded by desert-like landscape and scrub for miles on miles. 40 minutes and various scratched shins later, we were dipping our toes into the clear, turquoise waters.
One thing we’d heard about the area was that it had a definite hippy vibe. This came all too obvious when, while looking for things to do over the weekend, we came across a meditation festival:
“[Las actividades] Fueron creadas con la intención de hacer accesible la meditación al hombre contemporáneo. En muchas de ellas, se han incorporado técnicas ancestrales de otras corrientes espirituales como el sufísmo, el tantra o el zen.”
Needless to say, the promise of hippies practising tantra in the Mediterranean moonlight was quickly overruled in favour of beachside drinks with free tapas.
Highlights of the area:
– Agua Amarga: A charming little town with a bustling square and extensive beaches.
– Alcazaba de Almería: Despite not having a great reputation, the city itself does boast a 10th century Muslim walled city. Kind of like the Alhambra’s less flashy, younger sister, if you will.
– La Fabriquilla: A tiny coastal town close to the Arrecife de la Sirenas and the lighthouse. Drive the precarious, cliff-side lanes to reach the stunning viewpoint at the end of the road. Stop off at nearby Las Salinas for flamingo spotting, and check out the old town on the coastal road which featured in the film Vivir es facíl con los ojos cerrados.
– Fresh fish: Seafood dominates Andalusian menus. For a tasty local tapa try the boquerones or sardinas.
– The Andalu accent: “Tre’ servesa’? Qué tapa’ queréi’? De donde soi’? Vai’ a La’ Negra’?” etc. Very breathy. Very airy. Very reluctant to use the letter S.
One thing you need if you’re thinking of visiting Cabo de Gata is a car. There is virtually no public transport between the towns, and be wary of walking from beach to beach up the barren hills – unless you don’t mind being confronted by a nudist twisted into some obscure yoga position, that is.
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