July 29th, 2010
The Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is Spain’s largest protected coastal area. Covering 460km2, 120km2 of which is marine reserve. It is characterised by its outstanding natural beauty. Steep cliffs, alternating with beautiful coves and beaches, it is still untouched by mass development. Situated in the province of Almeria, and in area that is sometimes referred to as Europe’s only official desert. It receives the least rainfall in Europe (less than 160mm a year). Designated a Unesco Biosphere reserve in 1997.
Cabo de Gata – a diver’s paradise
The tranquil, crystal-clear waters and breathtaking underwater scenery of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata have created a paradise for scuba diving and snorkeling. Good visibility, coral reefs, caves, underwater basalt columns, and an unbelievable wealth of fish / marine life have made Cabo de Gata one of Europe’s best dive sites.
The harsh climate, scarce vegetation and the general difficulty in any kind of farming has ensured that the population is very sparse and concentrated in small, traditional villages. Only 3,500 people were recorded as living in the area in 1997. Tight planning restrictions will hopefully keep development to a minimum.
The undiscovered beaches are gradually becoming more popular. And rightly so, some really are spectacular. With the warm, transparent, fish-filled water, it is sometimes hard to believe you are still in the Mediterranean.
Best beaches in Spain
Picking out the best is near enough impossible. Everyone has their personal favourites. Some of the most well known are ‘Los Genoveses beach,’ used as a backdrop in the Lawrence of Arabia film (1962), ‘Monsul beach,’ characterised by its volcanic black sand and used by Steven Spielberg as a backdrop during the filming of Indiana Jones.
These two beaches are located near the village of San Jose. Another fantastic beach is ‘El Playazo Beach’ near Rodalquilar village. Particularly good for small children as the access is good and the water is shallow.
There are also numerous coves that are only accessible by foot or boat. La Cala de San Pedro, Cala de Enmedio, Cala del Plomo and Cala Higuera are amongst some that should be visited.
Playa de los Muertos, voted the best beach in Spain
Ever since being voted Spain’s best beach in 2007, by the readers of ’20 minutos,’ ‘Playa de los Muertos,’ is becoming increasingly popular. It is not hard to see why. Situated near the village of Carboneras. No amount of pictures or descriptions could ever do it justice, it is a beach that has to be seen. Wear good shoes as there is a bit of walk down (about a 1km), but is well worth the effort.
Due to its natural park status, most beaches in Cabo de Gata have no facilities, there no bars/toilets or restaurants…..always make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.