TRAVEL

10 Spanish beaches to enjoy in autumn

From Girona to Cádiz province, Spain is home to a number of warm Mediterranean spots which are perfect for enjoying a final splash before winter

Tamarit beach in Tarragona.
Tamarit beach in Tarragona.JOSEP LLUÍS SELLART

If you’re suffering from the end-of-summer blues, remember that early fall can be as much about the beach as watching the autumn colors; the Mediterranean Sea is still enticingly warm and waiting to be enjoyed, coronavirus restrictions permitting.

In fact, the forecast is for a warmer, drier autumn than usual, meaning beach lovers should think about heading to the coast for a final splash before winter. At this time of year, beaches are less crowded, making it easier to respect social distancing rules and the Virgen del Pilar long weekend holiday from October 9 to 12 is a great time for a final getaway. Here are 10 Mediterranean beaches to enjoy before the cold sets in.

1. Alcaidesa beach

La Línea de la Concepción / San Roque in Cádiz

Along this stretch of the Cádiz coastline, the Mediterranean merges with the Atlantic, offering acres of sand and a rich ecosystem. And when it comes to Alcaidesa beach, the Rock of Gibraltar provides a hypnotic backdrop while the crystal clear water makes it irresistible well into the autumn. Locals wait until the warm easterly wind known as the Levant blows to warm up the water, which it does without affecting its transparency.

The beach can be reached from Villa Real street which leads onto the promenade where you can park and walk the final leg. There’s a golf course next to the beach for those who yearn for a sea view while practicing their swing. But if it’s grilled fish skewers you’re after, try the DBlanco restaurant which is open all year round, then enjoy the two-kilometer rugged and therapeutic walk around the Punta Mala to the Punta Carbonera lighthouse in San Roque.

2. Peñon del Cuervo

Málaga

There was a time when this beach on Málaga city’s east side was used for music festivals and little else. Declared a maritime and terrestrial park, Peñon del Cuervo features a mound of rock that makes a perfect “springboard” for young daredevils and for diving enthusiasts keen to observe the diverse marine life.

A coastal trail, known as the Senda Litoral, can be reached from the parking lot halfway between the beach and the Candado Beach Club (952 20 63 46), which offers takeaway food and outdoor dining. There’s also a track complete with a sundial to the Peñón del Cuervo peppered with palm trees, lending the arid landscape a more tropical air.

3. Las Cañas

Sorvilán, Granada

The east of the Tropical Coast is perhaps the least well-known stretch of Spain’s Mediterranean, though La Rijana beach in Castell de Ferro is frequently overcrowded. However, there is a wild, naturist alternative called El Ruso in the city of Albuñol, which is harder to access. This, in turn, is a comfortable 750-meter stroll from Las Cañas beach, which is separated from the residences in the Melicena hamlet by a ravine that stands above a beautiful bay – a favorite with divers and fishermen. Although most of the beach is gravel, there are spots where it’s possible to stretch out on a towel.

Try Casa Patricio (958 82 96 32) for a bite in La Mamola village as the Onteniente restaurant (958 82 96 50) closes for vacations in October. If you’re stopping for the night, La Ventera rural hotel in Gualchos-Castell de Ferro makes for a pleasant stay.

4. Quitapellejos

Almanzora Caves, Almería

Quitapellejos is synonymous with festival-goers with the Dreambeach electronic music festival, which has been a fixture here since 2013 – though this summer it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Often referred to by its traditional name, Palomares, the beach made headlines in 1966, when a US B-52 refueling mid-flight crashed into a tanker. The B-52 was carrying four hydrogen bombs, three of which fell on Palomares fishing village, while the fourth was recovered from the Mediterranean.

An extension of the Vera municipality’s naturist beaches, Quitapellejos is spacious and offers the shade of the adjacent pine forest as well as a track to the mouth of the Almanzora river, where the sand becomes dark and gravelly.

It would be all but sinful to come here and not try the croquetas and paella at the Akua Palomares restaurant (621 21 08 54), whose staff are very helpful with English-speaking guests.

5. La Losa

El Portús, Cartagena

Due to the privileged climate enjoyed in the Sierra de La Muela, Cape Tiñoso and Roldán natural park, this neck of the woods is highly popular with naturists. It was once known as El Portús beach, but is now divided into independent coves due to marine regression. One cove sits in front of the El Portús hamlet and next to it is La Losa cove (also known as Rambla de El Portús), which lies at the foot of Casilla mountain and which you reach via a path that starts just before the naturist campsite.

With a welcome, northerly-like breeze funneled in from the course of a small river, the beach here is a mix of pebbles and coarse sand and the water is deep. Stark and barren cliffs stretch towards the port of Cape Tiñoso. Plenty of divers roll up here to immerse themselves in the rich marine life, while others kayak around from Cape Tiñoso.

6. El Portet

Teulada-Moraira, Alicante

The coastline between Cape San Antonio and the Ifach rock changes abruptly, fragmenting into a series of sandy coves. Among them is El Portet – the little port – close to the Cap d’Or tower, which can be reached on foot for a glorious view out to sea.

Once a harbor for Berber ships from Morocco, this secluded beach far from the main road boasts crystal clear water in inviting shades of green and blue that have a pool-like quality. In fact, you have to wade in at least 20 meters before getting out of your depth, making it a perfect spot for small children and seniors.

With regard to food, Maria Elena’s paella with extra fresh vegetables is still a must at El Portet restaurant.

7. Carregador

Alcossebre-Alcalà, Castellón

One of the best things about Alcossebre is its urban planning – no one is allowed to build higher than three stories, thereby preserving the excellent views of the Mediterranean and nearby Sierra de Irta, the coastal lung of Castellón province.

Carregador refers to Alcossebre’s port area, but if you want the quieter end of the beach – hit badly last January by Storm Gloria – use the Roquer Martí parking lot to reach the southernmost tip and enjoy the dunes, which are of noted ecological value. At the rocky end of Carregador, you can reach the end of La Romana beach and climb up to the lookout point.

The Can Roig restaurant, now under new management, is open at least until the Virgin del Pilar long weekend holiday from October 9 to 12, which is also Spain’s National Day.

8. Mareny de Sant Llorenç

Cullera, Valencia

It is hard to find a stretch of the Mediterranean coast that isn’t covered with apartment blocks but one such spot beckons in the Albufera natural park in Valencia. To get to the Mareny de Sant Llorenç beach, drive through the Mareny Blau residential estate in the city of Sueca and park on La Ralla del Terme street, which separates Sueca from the neighboring municipality of Cullera.

Here, far from the bustle of tourists, the beach is wide and sandy. With its almost infinite sand dunes and two kilometers of shoreline, it is also a favorite with nudists.

If you’re feeling hungry, there’s nothing like the rice at Casa Rocher, with a weekend menu for €25 – not including drinks. Closed from 19 to 26 October.

9. Tamarit

Tarragona

This attractive beach marks the boundary between the municipalities of Tarragona and Altafulla. As well as Tamarit castle, it is also home to the small delta of the Gaià river, which has indirectly prevented any construction in the area. With no buildings in sight, bathers can take enjoy the calm waters which are marked with buoys 150 meters from the shore, giving the beach the appearance of a swimming pool.

The parking lot at the Altafulla-Tamarit train station is 300 meters from the beach on the east side, making access easy. Rice dishes at the Voramar Cal Vitali restaurant (977 65 06 30), little more than a kilometer away, add to the charm, though reservations here are essential.

10. Rifà

Mont-roig del Camp, Tarragona

Seeking out quiet, unspoiled beaches in the semi-urban areas of Taragona province is a task that turns the traveler into a detective. But Rifà is one of those gems. Off the N-340 highway at the Torre del Sol campsite, you pass the train track and go straight until reaching the parking lot at the Mistral Beach bar – the bar itself is currently closed.

Rifà is sandy and bright. With an 800-meter stretch of shoreline, it has a wildness to it that brings to mind a natural park – be careful when entering the sea as it gets deep quickly and the seabed is rocky.

At the Maykao Playa bar, which is open until mid-October (619 09 81 32), takeaways are on offer as well as table service. There you will find a 300-year-old pine tree, while just over a kilometer away is the beach used by the Playa y Fiesta campsite, which is open all of October.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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