If you are looking for a fix of Summer sun then with lots of cheap flights to Spain landing in Malaga and Granada it is no wonder that the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz are popular destinations for British holidaymakers and expats. With an average of eight hours sunshine a day and 18C year round it is easy to see the attraction, but this popularity has also led to the over-development of the beachfront in many places which puts off a lot of would-be holidaymakers.
However, as with any destination if you travel a little from the main tourist traps. go round the next headland or take a little bit of local advice you can find yourself in a location a world away from where you started. So don’t be discouraged by the hype, it is still possible to find a hidden gem and a quiet beach in the Costas, as we found out on a recent stay...
We had booked a flight into Malaga and then a fight out of Granada which meant breaking up our trip with a drive and stay between the two. Having asked some local Spanish friends where they would go with three nights to spend in this part of Andalucía, we were advised to go to the Costa Tropical and visit the towns of Almunecar and La Herradura, and whilst at La Herradura visit the Marina del Este. Well, we did as we were told and were rewarded with an entertaining Le Mans-style drive that snaked along the coast giving glimpses of tiny bays and film star-style villas, but the real treat was upon arrival at La Herradura.
The crystal clear water of the Mediterranean lapped the horseshoe-shaped bay for which La Herradura is named, by Costa del Sol standards the town was big enough to support lively bars and good restaurants, but small enough that you could walk around it without issue. At some point in the past the local planners must have made the sensible decision to keep the sea front low rise, which gives the town a more relaxed feel and somehow makes it less commercial.
The pebble beach in front of the town was busy and very cosmopolitan but a short five minute drive out of town and we were on deserted beaches bothered only by the occasional couple on a kayak or pedalo. Finding such quiet beaches only forty minutes from Malaga really changed our opinion of the Costas.
And the surprises kept on coming, back in the town and a short walk up the hill was a restaurant recommended by friends called La Tartana where the food was on a par with some of the best restaurants we have eaten in and at half the price. It turned out later that the chef had trained under Gordon Ramsay at The Boxwood and his prize dish of pressed belly pork was as close to perfect as we have ever tasted. Washed down with a bottle of Cava that rivalled many Champagnes and only cost €24.
Another enjoyable day was spent at the Marina del Este, which is a very pretty marina with an abundance of cafes and bars. Several day charter sail boats and motor boats operate out of the marina and a day can be spent exploring the local coves and accessible caves for as little as €45 per person including a decent picnic lunch.
All in all this part of Spain charmed and went a long way to redressing the balance of opinion of a holiday on the Costas.