‘My favorite place in the world’: readers’ favorite beaches in Spain | Holidays in Spain
Win tip: Isla Canela beach, Huelva
Little known to British visitors, the 7km of golden sands of Isla Canela beach at the western end of the Costa de la Luz are an indulgent joy. This is where the Spaniards vacation, usually in the intense heat of July and August, but these golden sands are never crowded and the Atlantic breeze provides a welcome respite from Andalusian temperatures. The promenade is lined with Spanish chiringuitos (no Irish bars or “traditional English roasts” here), where you can pass the time sipping a cold drink or enjoying fried fish and Gamba al ajillo (prawns in garlic oil). There is even a summer cinema on the beach. Relax – it doesn’t get better than that.
It was 1980, and I think we were the only ones on the beach. I meticulously built 20 sand castles and planted a pine twig in each one. Then my father “accidentally” skimmed through them! Since then, I love this beach. There’s now a little shack bar – and, yes, more people – but what never changes is the view. Mountains to the left; the Coll Baix peak on the right; behind, the smell of pine; and, ahead, of course, the ever-changing blues of the Mediterranean. If you come in the morning (flat), take your snorkel; in the afternoon (waves), take a lilo or a bodyboard. Back in town, La Casa Gallega is ideal for evening tapas.
Playa Mina, Camino del Faro, Alicante
Altea is a day trip from Benidorm or Alicante, and is best known for its old town. But an easy 6km bike ride south takes you to the Camino del Faro. This short cliff-top path passes through a nature reserve with spectacular views. About halfway there is a track from the road – it looks like a long rocky path down to the waters edge, but don’t be discouraged. If you hold on, you’ll find Playa Mina a sheltered cove with views of the city and very clear water. It’s deep enough to swim around the bay and get out on the rocks at different spots (wear swimming shoes). A few private companies do yacht tours here, so enjoy the smug feeling of arriving on foot.
Beautiful sandy beach perfect for families. The sea is shallow, ideal for swimming/paddling and is cleaned every evening. It’s still the atmosphere. Everybody is happy. There’s a mix of Spaniards and tourists from all over Europe, with tons of room for everyone, and the vibrant colors of the umbrellas on display. No skyscrapers here, just a wide esplanade with beach shops and wonderful cafes and artisan stalls. Always busy at 10pm with games and couples relaxing. Fabulous views of Cap de Sant Antoni at one end of the beach. Safe, too, with lifeguard patrols. Classy neighborhood but not expensive.
Punta Paloma is my favorite place in the world: a big dune with Sahara sand, from where you can see Africa. The beach is located near the small town of Tarifa where the food and views are amazing. Scuba diving, kite surfing, climbing or hiking are just some of the activities on offer. Southern Spain is a quality and cheap destination that does not suffer from the tourist overcrowding of other places.
We stumbled upon the beautiful, wild and unspoiled beach of Soesto near Laxe, Galicia, on a recent road trip. A small unpaved road with a banal sign gave no indication of what awaited us. Wide white sand beach with dunes, hills and woods in the background. The Atlantic water was as clear as anything you would find on the most visited Mediterranean coast. Anywhere else and this beach would have been packed. In this wild corner of Spain, we were the only ones enjoying the secluded paradise, except for a local who was collecting barnacles. No development, no facilities, just nature. Stunning.
15 kilometers west of the jewel of the Basque country, San Sebastián, is a town with a “cool Californian” promenade where you can taste the delicious pintxos for which the region is famous. Zarautz has an impressively long golden sand beach, clean Atlantic water and consistently decent surf. A fantastic campsite overlooks the beach from the cliff at the east end and is connected by the El Camino del Surfista steps, which will keep those hamstrings tight. This beach town perfectly combines sophisticated northern Spanish cuisine with a laid-back surfer vibe.
The Costa del Azahar on Spain’s east coast still seems little-known compared to its more glitzy counterparts, but it’s home to some of Spain’s most beautiful and quietest beaches. Benicarló, Oropesa del Mar and Benicàssim are worth seeing. However, the jewel in the crown is in Peñíscola. There are actually two beaches a few hundred meters apart on the small peninsula dominated by Peñíscola Castle. The North Beach, in particular, is stunning: 5km of pristine sand and crystal clear waters, flanked by local bars and restaurants. Even on the busiest days of summer, you’ll have no problem finding a place for your towel.
This beautiful beach near the bustling port city of Cartagena is loved by locals for its tranquil beauty. It’s a far cry from the umbrella-filled beaches of Alicante further up the coast.
While hiking around Menorca last spring, another hiker directed me to Cala Trebaluger. It is one of a select group of unspoiled Menorcan beaches accessible only on foot. I followed a meandering river through a gorge to the beach and spent three days in lonely splendour, sleeping under the stars surrounded by nature, lulled by a soothing curve of fine white sand, shallow waters nestled between rocky outcrops and pine forests. There are no deckchairs and often no clothes: just nature. Happiness.