I’ve decided to post some info I send to friends or people who email me about Cabo de Gata. I love this nature reserve and there is just so much to say about it and so much I haven’t even explored yet. In this post I’m listing some beaches I like(in no particular order) but of course there is so much more to say about all these spots. If you have more questions or want me to help with directions just email me. I hope that if people do visit these beautiful stretches of mostly undeveloped coastal Spain , to of course be respectful, take in and out garbage, try not to disturb the dunes or wildlife, hydrate, follow the flag warnings, be cautious and aware, and drive responsibly.
1. Playa de los Muertos: [Near Carboneras] Summer roadside paid parking is 2-10 euros. I’m not sure if there is a bus stop; it’s a small hike down to the beach (bring sneakers). Rocky beach but the rocks are sooo smooth and tiny that it feels like sand but you stay clean! Best to walk all the way down the beach toward the rocks and the turquoise water.
Tip: If you continue past the first parking lot you will eventually see a gravel road on the right that leads to another beach parking by the cement plant. Although this side beach is near the cement plant it is still great for snorkeling and an even better beach for little kids as it has mini wading pools near the shore.
2. El Playazo: [Near Rodalquilar] An easily missed small sign indicates the turn off to this beach, no bus. It’s a sandy beach and has shallow calm waters that are great for snorkeling and get deeper the farther you go out. If you walk towards the fortress “San Ramon” (where some of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed) you will end up at a little cove beach (the more nudey part) where there are beautiful rocks formed from lava ash and fossils, super cool. And a guy in a little boat serves margaritas in the shallow areas (during the summer occasionally). There are trails you can pick up here that lead to other coves.
3. Monsul Beach: [Near San Jose ] Black sand beach where lava meets the ocean. Some of Indiana Jones was filmed here. Fairly calm waters and great for bouldering practice. Parking is 5-10 euros but covers both beaches in that area. Los Genoveses Beach is the first you will come to and it is another chill beach, more goats than people, also in Lawrence of Arabia. It can get super windy at Monsul. The bus does stop here.
4. Cala de Enmedio: [Near Cala de Polmo]
When you get there you will be following trails off the beaten path. The entrance to the trails that lead to this beach are right before you reach Cala de Polmo and there are usually cars lined up nearby the entrance. When you find the trail it is marked blue and white but there is one point where it kind of forks and you break from the path and follow an unmarked trail veering right, this path widens and it is only a minute til you arrive at the breathtaking beach. This link also gives some info about the beach: http://www.cabogataspain.com/Gata-Nature-Reserve/beach/Enmedio-Cala-Cove-Spain.html
These are just some spots we love. If you go to Cabo de Gata then go off the beaten path and explore. Stop at all the lookouts, visit all the villages, talk to people you cross paths with- (coming from NY) this part of the world is super friendly. Rent a car; there is no need for all terrain vehicles; all the roads are pretty much paved. There are hidden coves and much more to explore. No matter where you stay in Cabo de Gata you will love it.
In the comments below please share any advice or places you love within Cabo de Gata and the surrounding areas.
When we lived in Portland, Oregon we joined the Circuit Gyms. They were great bouldering gyms with planned routes that varied in difficulty and were constantly updated. In Ny it was just too costly to join any gym and there weren’t any close enough to home to make the cost worth it. But here in Madrid we can go bouldering for free at many of the city parks. Here they have built Rocodromos, man-made concrete climbing walls out in the open air. There are no set routes and some don’t seem to be planned out too well but that makes it all the more interesting because really that is how it would be in nature. Some rocodromos are even set up for those who do belaying if you bring your own equipment.
I want to bring this concept back to the states. I think every town, city, park should have a rocodromo. It is great exercise, keeps teens active and teaches little ones some key development skills. I am going to miss this luxury when I go back to the states. Madrid, you don’t know how good you have it; take care of what you got.
Not far from Cartagena nor La Manga in Murcia you will find the Parque Regional de Calblanque. There are a couple of beaches in this area but we took the path to the left which led us to a sandy calm beach that would be great for kids but also nice for bathing. There are short hikes you can do around the rocky parts but avoid the dunes as they are protected. The water was fairly warm, tranquil and beautiful aquamarine in some areas. Whichever path you take you probably won’t be disappointed. Bolnuevo
Once you arrive in this former fishing village, now British invasion of fish and chip shops and dime stores that carry shortbread bikkies, canned herring, Vienna sausages, and marmite, (not complaining) go past the main beach and continue up the hill. To your left you will see a drop to a nice somewhat secluded cove; the lack of parking makes this spot all the more enjoyable. Walk down the super steep hill toward the ocean. You will find yourself in paradise; this cove is calm, warm and wonderful with few people mostly whom arrived by boat. After a good swim we headed back into town for some damn good fish and chips (for the parents) and a good vegetarian pasta for ourselves at a wonderful restaurant called Elenas. If I am in the area again I will definitely stop in for the good food and great service.
La Pedriza is an incredible place. I was lucky enough to go their twice with my school on a class trip. It is located on the Guadarrama mountains in Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares and is one of the coolest granitic ranges I’ve seen so close to Madrid. There are a bunch of hiking trails and rock climbing routes within the park and if you get hot on the trail there are some wading pools to cool off in.
It was a wonderful trip for the first group, the weather was gorgeous and we hiked more trails than we should have because by the end the kids were exhausted but we had a great time. I even enjoyed my Spanish lesson listening to all the stories that go along with different rocks or areas in the park, like La Cueva de La Mora, a Romeo and Juliet-like ghost story of love and loss. The second group didn’t have as much luck with the weather and it was a downpour but the foggy mist surrounding the huge rock formations was other worldly and we hung tough and survived the rain and mud.
A continuation of our end of the season northern beach tour; if we had more time our beach list would be endless.
Zarautz where the city meets the sea. We would have loved to rent surfboards if we had time because this was the perfect beach for beginner wave ragers.
Either way we had a great time on the beach. During low tide and high tide it was just as swimmable and the water temperature was so warm for the northern Atlantic during the end of September (we were amazed!). We ended up spending most of the day here because we fell in love.
Next stop was San Sebastian because I heard too many good things about this city. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear that it is almost impossible to venture into with a car. If only I had known it was a bike centric city I would have planned our trip better. I wouldn’t recommend visiting this city with a car unless you travel during the low traffic hours; Bike and bus seem to be the way to go. But we found our way into a parking garage that wasn’t too expensive near the coral beach. We pintxo-ed our way around the city seeking out only the vegetarian pintxos (a vegan would not survive this city) and then found ourselves at the end of the night wading in the ocean towards the island that seems so reachable yet so far away. The water was so warm and refreshing, really the best end to a hot night in the city. Explore the city by night, it’s enchanting.
A rough draft of our end of the season northern beach tour.
Playa Del Silencio
This beach is accessible by bus or car but either way it is a bit of a walk from both stops. At this time of year it was almost deserted except for a couple snorkelers and local couples and others on El Camino. Explore the beach because further away from the stairway is an amazing mescla of rock formations; slate, marble, limestone etc. It is absolutely beautiful and like nothing I have ever seen before.
The water temperature was still swimmable if you’re not sensitive. It was like a crisp dip in a cool spring, healing and refreshing.
Playa Cuevas Del Mar
An incredible beach. We arrived with almost 2 hours til high tide and the waters were tranquil and low. It was one of the warmer beaches at this time of year and so beautiful. If you need to work your way up to a dip in the cool ocean then take a 30 min-1hr walk above the beach and along the cliffs towards the hermitage. Follow the cow paths to the right of the water archway. There seems to be no entrance but search and you will find a path. Some hotels provide a map but you can follow any trail around there and have a great time. The best path to take is to follow the path leading toward the hermitage (you can see a church-like building in the distance but not from the beach) it is on a hill. Sneak past the bull and his entourage of ladies and their clanging/chiming alpine cow bells. Make your way along the rocky cliffs above the ocean drop and look for a path leading to another hidden nude beach toward your right. This beach is more secluded and maybe less accessible during high tide but worth the investigation. Then head back toward cuevas del mar for a cool dip after the sunny hike, you may really need it if you get lost and have to hike down from a no path zone. I suggest heading back in the same general direction but there are other ways.
Playa de Gulpiyuri
Unfortunately, it was our biggest disappointment. From all the areal pictures it looks like a beautiful cove to bathe in but it is impossible to swim in unless you want to be knocked out by boulders. The cove is filled with jagged rocks and the tide is always pulling you out toward the rocks. It is mostly just a spot where people pose for photo shoots and other sun bathe on the neighboring farmer’s lawn with the smell of fertilizer wafting along with the breeze. If you climb above the cove there are some nice views but a scary drop to the ocean below.
Playa San Antolín
Further along the coast is the Playa San Antolín where the river Bedón meets the ocean. It is a rocky beach toward the river but has a sandy side toward the left of the river. This was by far the coldest part of our ocean trip.
If you explore further on there are many more coves to explore. We stopped off at one near Barro. It was a not so claustrophobic cove, there was enough space for everyone at least during the low season. The waters were calm and not so freezing but there was limited parking available which often is the case when you are searching for secluded beaches. Every beach was beautiful and some reminded me of the Oregon Coast; I wish I had more time to explore every bit of this coast because it is absolutely incredible.
If you are planning a trip to the beaches of Cabo de Gata my tips are as follows:
1. Rent a car. Although buses do bring you to some of the beaches, the hours aren’t frequent and you will see more with a car.
2. Stay in Almeria. This city was a great “home base” because the hostels are affordable and at most it is a 45 minute drive from the furthest beach in Cabo de Gata.
3. Make your own food. Stock up at supermarkets, our hotel even had a fridge. This way you will save money and can treat yourself to a nice dinner one or 2 of the nights you’re in town.
4. Don’t forget that parking in a parking garage could cost you a pretty penny so look for hostels that offer complimentary parking. Sometimes staying on the outskirts of a city is worth it for the price.
5. Go snorkeling! But don’t forget to coat your legs and back with sunscreen, it’s easy to forget how long your backside is exposed to the sun when you’re seeing all kinds of cool things underwater.
6. Relax and enjoy yourself. Soak in the beauty and the tranquility of this preserved coastline.
For our April English Board I had the 3rd grade write up ways we can help the planet within a Truffala Tree cut-out. They colored them in all sorts of wild designs and they were very proud of the outcome.
Unfortunately, some of the little 2nd graders didn’t think too highly of the Lorax and attacked him with pushpins.
On Earth Day I wanted to try my hand at Seed Bombs with the kids; It was easier than I thought and the kids had a blast playing with mud. I had a breakthrough with one of my students who refuses to speak a word of English in class. He is one of my more kinesthetic learners and has a hard time in class because many of the lessons are super text oriented and not always structured for different learning styles. But he had so much fun with this project that now he makes a point of speaking to me in English, he participates in class now and even shows off a little. I was so amazed at his level of understanding! all this time I thought he was way behind the rest of the class but all he needed was a project that made learning fun.
Sometimes there are teachers that don’t know how to incorporate the auxiliaries into the lessons, some don’t want us around so they don’t acknowledge us, others let us teach the class but with no advanced notice. There are also teachers whose level of English and teaching style works great and they don’t need much help in the classroom. So at times being an auxiliar can be frustrating because you may feel a bit useless. That is why I like to come up with hands on projects for the kids, for the most part the teachers welcome the change and the students will respect you for it; it could make a great impression on their lives.
-Good Dirt (potting soil, workable soil and if it has clay even better)
-Clay (powdered); if there is clay in your dirt you won’t need to add more. I couldn’t find powdered clay so i used moist natural potter’s clay and it worked just fine.
We worked on the Seed Bombs outside. We gave each student about 2 small cups of dirt, 2 pieces of clay which they broke up into tiny pieces, then some water. They mixed them all up into palm sized balls then we sprinkled some seeds on them and they mixed them in.
If the ball seems to be falling apart then either add more water or some clay. If it is too wet then add more dirt and clay. If you don’t have clay or they are not staying together then wrap each ball in a bit of newspaper.
Let them dry overnight. I had the kids bring in egg cartons so they could take their seed bombs home. When they are dry throw them in an ugly lot or plant them in your garden. If you wrapped them in newspaper then dip them in a little water before you throw them.
Please comment with any seed bomb tips or other earth day activities!
If there is a chance of sunshine, especially in the dead of winter please take advantage of the sun and go bike riding in Parque del Buen Retiro. By Bike has affordable rentals €4 per hour or a tad cheaper if you increase your usage. If you are into roller blading the costs are the same for rentals. The bikes aren’t anything special, mainly just cruiser bikes so they can get uncomfortable after a long haul but definitely worth it for a 1 or 2 hour spin through Retiro. It is always nice to lay out in the sun along the lake but nothing beats a good bike ride through the park. It really is the best way to explore every bit the park has to offer in the shortest amount of time.
Check out the website for rental times and prices as they vary from season to season. But in general they are cheaper than most bike shops in Madrid and located right across the street from the Ibiza entrance.