One year after visiting Almería capital on my own, I went back to visit one of my fiancé’s numerous cousins. Last year I wished I could have visited the natural park of Cabo de Gata.
But as I was on a backpack/solo trip, I couldn’t find any mean of transportation that could bring me there.
One jump ahead: Cabo de Gata is off the beaten track. Maybe that’s why it was able to preserve its authentic, rough charm and its virgin beaches.
So far, all I had seen of Cabo de Gata were photos of stunning beaches and it was being recommended in the most prestigious travel magazines as the last virgin spot on the Andalusian coast.
And it’s absolutely right what they say about Cabo de Gata: there are so many non touristy beaches that you’ll have a tough moment to choose only one. Of course there are some villages that are en route to become tourist hot spots and concrete buildings along the coast are already being planned. It's the perfect day trip from Almeria.
Therefore I recommend to visit Cabo de Gata as soon as you can in order to experience one of Andalusia’s best kept natural secrets.
In order to facilitate this task, I arranged this selection of the best beaches in Cabo de Gata… and 1 absolute No-Go Beach.
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Table of Content
Best Time to Visit Tenerife
1. How to get to Cabo de Gata
Closest airports are Almeria,
Malaga and Granada.
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Closest train station is Almeria.
We departed from Malaga by car. The drive to Almería capital is already very scenic. You're driving along the coast and you'll get to see the legendary "Plastic Sea", which are the large greenhouses. Several areas are all covered in white. Most fruits and vegetables that you buy in Northern Europe come from the surroundings of Almería and its "Plastic Sea".
Unfortunately public transport is not very efficient in the area, that's why I recommend to rent a car. Get here your best deal on car rentals in Spain.
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2. Where to stay
Where To Stay in Tenerife if you are a party animal
3. El Zapillo Beach
Strictly speaking, El Zapillo Beach is not located in Cabo de Gata natural park, but on the outskirts of Almería. Nevertheless it is situated along the road connecting Almería to Cabo de Gata.
It’s also one of the few beaches that has a good public transport connection.
As Almería usually gets really hot in the summer months, it’s always good to know where the next sandy beach is.
El Zapillo is only a 15 min drive away from the city center of Almería. It has golden sand, very large and thus spacious enough to host all urban dwellers craving some refreshment.
There are several chiringuitos, beach bars, serving traditional seafood from Almeria like Sardinas con Migas, Bacaladilla, Jurel or Gallo Pedro.
My favorite dish from Almería are probably “Rejas”, fried octopus tentacles.
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4. Las Salinas Beach
Playa Las Salinas was one of my favorite beaches of Cabo de Gata. Maybe not mainly due to the beach itself, which has nothing very special unless that it’s veeery long, close to Almería city and an excellent water quality.
The best of Las Salinas beach is the natural setting and its surrounding attractions.
The tiny village of Las Salinas is known for its salines. With their bright white and soft pink shimmering color, they give a very charming character to Las Salinas village.
Then, just outside Las Salinas village, there is a large wetland with dozens of flamingos. Yes, you read F.L.A.M.I.N.G.O.S. ! (I spent at least 90 min trying to capture their beauty with my camera…. Sorry for the rather mediocre result. I guess I was just too excited to focus)
There were at least 50-60 of them, looking peacefully for food in the pool. There were only a few meters away from us. That’s when I got to understand why Cabo de Gata is such a popular destination for bird-watching.
On top the chapel of Las Salinas is a true eye-catcher as well: its sandy yellow and bright white front forms a lovely contrast with the deep blue Andalusian sky. Nowadays it’s a coveted wedding location and popular photo motive when traveling to Almería.
Las Salinas is really a must when visiting Almería and Cabo de Gata. Even if you don’t like beaches, this dreamy little village will capture your heart.
There are a few bars in Las Salinas and good parking options. Family-friendly beach.
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5. Faro Cabo de Gata Lighthouse Beach
If you continue driving the road after Las Salinas village, you’ll arrive at the Lighthouse of Cabo de Gata (Faro de Cabo de Gata). The panorama view from the lighthouse is one of the best in the entire natural park.
You can see all along the coast and the rocks of “Arrecife de las Sirenas”, outcrop of rocks sticking out of the sea. They are one of the most photographed motives of Cabo de Gata.
On the left you can go down to Cala Las Sirenitas, which is a paradise for snorkelers. On the right of the lighthouse, you’ll find a large, although not sandy beach. It seems to be popular among nudists. (But there are also dressed beach goers as well). The water is tremendously clear and has an opaque turquoise color.
I especially enjoyed snorkeling along the rocks where you find different fish species. We got warned that sometimes there might be sea urchins.
“Restaurante El Faro” is located on a rock right on top of Playa del Faro Cabo de Gata. It serves delicious lunch with probably the best views of Cabo de Gata area.
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6. Cala Las Sirenas
Cala de Las Sirenitas is located on the left when you’re in front of the lighthouse of Cabo de Gata.
Cala de las Sirenitas is usually not very crowded and snorkelers will love it due to the crystal clear water. Again be aware of the sea urchins and nudists!
As there is no shade on Cala de las Sirenitas, I strongly recommend to bring a parasol.
Parking options are also limited. In case you get hungry, Restaurante El Faro is located only a few minutes away from the beach.
7. Playa Monsul Beach
Playa Monsul, together with Playa Los Genoveses are probably the most scenic beaches of the entire natural park of Cabo de Gata.
Both beaches are very spacious, with golden sand, great water quality and are surrounded by impressive natural landscapes which have their origins in the volcanic eruptions.
Large lava tongues reach into the sea and have been shaped by seawater and the wind. Its pristine setting inspired producer Steven Spielberg to make it the backdrop for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
You have to drive to San José and there the way to the beach is already indicated. The valley that you need to cross in order to access the beach and its corresponding parking reminded me of the desert in a Wild West movie. You could be in Arizona or Texas. No surprise that Cabo de Gata and the surrounding desert Las Tabernas have been a popular film location for series or movies like The Good, the Bad and The Ugly or Doctor Who.
Parking is 5€, but it is totally worth it since it limits the quantity of people on the beach. On top Playa Monsul is located inside the natural park where traffic is restricted.
8. Playa Los Genoveses Beach
Playa Los Genoveses is located about 10 min by car away after passing along the parking of Playa Monsul. Also here you need to pay 5€ for parking.
After crossing a scenic landscape, inspiring Arizona and cowboy movies, you reach Playa Los Genoveses. This beach is absolutely gorgeous since there are no bars, no roads, no buildings...
The setting is pristine, the water crystal clear. It might get windy and you have to be careful with strong currents.
This beach is very flat, you have to walk for a long time thus it might be a good choice in case you travel with kids.
I especially liked the contrast of the white ashes rock longing into the sea and the turquoise water. With its 1200m it is one of the longest beaches in the area.
Playa de Los Genoveses is famous for its historical background. It got its name by the landing in 1147 of the Genevan fleet that sailed to Spain to support the Spanish troops to “re-conquer” Almeria, which at that time belonged to the Moorish kingdom of Granada.
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9. El Playazo Beach
Video by Spain-Holiday.com
Playa El Playazo (The Great Beach) is located near Rodalquilar on the north-eastern side of the natural park and is clearly signposted.
It is particularly popular among families since it has good parking options, it’s protected by the wind and the golden sand is fine. A curiosity might be the gold mines that are close to the beach.
There is a little bar selling some drinks and snacks. But as with most beaches at Cabo de Gata, you better bring all your drinks and snacks along.
Also here nudism is frequent but respected.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
10. Playa Las Negras Beach
I do not 100% recommend this beach, but still it’s not a total no-go. (which will be the next beach on this list)
Las Negras village has the charm of a former fishing village which apparently has unintentionally turned into a very coveted beach resort.
The houses of the seafront and the historic center seem to have a long history and the fishing boats on the beach remind the fishing tradition of Las Negras. But the rest of Las Negras village looks like an improvised agglomeration of concrete buildings. There are a few international tourists, but most are Spanish.
After seeing all the other pristine and wild beaches of Cabo de Gata, Las Negras was quite overwhelming me. So many people, so many restaurants, party and music in most bars…. I just wanted to go back to one of these virgin beaches. I visited during a weekend in August and the village was just too crowded.
The beach of Las Negras village is tiny with black sand. But still if you are looking for a more animated afternoon at the beach with sangría, beach volley or seafood restaurants, then Las Negras is the right beach for you.
Due to its closeness to Cala San Pedro, Las Negras village has some alternative, bohemian feeling.
Fortunately Josh from Spain for Pleasure had a better experience in Las Negras, that I don’t want to withhold you.
Puerto de la Cruz
11. No-Go: Cala San Pedro
The beach of Cala San Pedro was basically the reason why we decided to head to Las Negras village. A friend recommended it as this totally remote, bohemian, virgin and unspoiled bay. There would be only a few hippies that had re-settled to Cala San Pedro to live a free, alternative lifestyle in peaceful coexistence with nature.
Although wild-camping is forbidden in Spain, we grabbed our tent and couldn’t wait to make it to Las Negras village. I read a few blog posts from people that had camped there and they confirmed that never a policeman had been seen in Cala San Pedro and that wild-camping could be done without any risk. On top the beach has no paved road access.
Just let me tell you 1 thing: don’t go to Cala San Pedro!
Maybe our expectations were too high after reading all those lovely posts on Cala San Pedro. But, just read on…
You can get to Cala San Pedro by boat from Las Negras village (12€ round way) or by 1h hiking. We decided to hike and I’ve to admit that it was the best part of my Cala San Pedro experience.
The trail starts in Las Negras village. It’s an easy walk and you can’t get lost. The trail itself is gorgeous: you get some scenic views on the Andalusian coast and it goes through unspoiled nature. The views are tremendous and reminded me of Cape Verde. Be aware that there is no shade during the entire trek, so you better go in the early morning or afternoon.
After the last curve of the trail, we finally got a glimpse on Cala San Pedro bay. Hmmm… this looked quite crowded from a distance.
The closer we got, the more camping tents me counted… There were at least 20 or more! Since the bay was gorgeous and “hope is usually the last to die”, we made all the way down to the beach.
After descending the uneven trail, we first encounter the sweet water source, which allows dropouts to live here all year round.
But, gosh, this smell…. There’s waste everywhere and we had a hard time avoiding all the poopies. A few hippies with a lost expression crossed our way. Some of the “cabins” rather look like landfill sites than accommodations. There is no functioning sewage system or waste collection in Cala San Pedro.
After a poopy - steeplechase, we finally reached the beach… Well just let me put it that way that it was the total opposite of what we had imagined: There was not 1 free spot on the beach, beer bottles and plastic bags everywhere, naked and/or drunk people dancing, girls pooping a few metres away from the beach…
We just had 1 thought: we have to get out of here asap.
Luckily there are zodiacs that connect this “virgin” beach with Las Negras village. We hopped on the first boat we could get and we were more than happy to escape the most dirty and spoiled beach of Cabo de Gata.
Accommodation Sights map
Beach Map of Cabo de Gata
Whereas Cala San Pedro should be avoided, the other beaches of Cabo de Gata are totally worth a visit. There are only a few beaches in Spain that can compete with them and it will be hard to find equivalents on the Andalusian coast.That's why the beaches of Cabo de Gata are consistently being voted as the best in Spain.
It’s not only a lovely excursion from Costa del Sol, but also the perfect location to spend your holidays close to virgin and pristine beaches.
Have you been in Cabo de Gata, Almería? What are your favourite beaches?
In order to get more information on tourism in Cabo de Gata - Almeria (Spain), I recommend the site of Tourism Board of Andalusia.
Here you can get tickets for the best Activities and Tours in Cabo de Gata.
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