Wednesday 30 March 2016

Back to the Coast: Cabo de Gata and the Costa Calida

Our spot at Playa de las Palmeras

Spain, 24th – 28th March 2016

We’re now back on the coast having worked our way east from Almeria and started going north along the Costa Calida finding some great beach parking spots to stay. I didn’t realise how mountainous this area was, in some parts all the way to the coastline, it’s clear why much of it is undeveloped. We’ve been on a lot of twisty and hilly roads to get about the area with some nice scenery. It seems beach parking is very tolerated in these parts which is good news for us, and surprisingly even “camping activities” overlooked. We’ve seen a lot of vans, including many VW campers, with awnings, chairs and tables out, and have seen Guardia Civil drive by without stopping at two of the places.

Saturday marked the 356 days on the road milestone for us. With our original plans for a year touring Europe we'd be back in the UK now, but with our efficient spending can extend it for a few more months now and keep enjoying it!

The good weather returned and has been consistently warm with the sun out and temperatures in the 20’s since. Before leaving the aire we were on we used the service point to do all our tanks ready for a few days freeparking then set off down to the Cabo de Gata national park. Passing a sea of polytunnels, our first stop was at the town of El Cabo de Gata where we parked in the busy beach parking for lunch and a walk along the seafront. We also drove along to Cabo de Gata point passing several spots where motorhomes were parked at the side by the beach, then along a twisty road to the end with a couple of short narrow parts. The lighthouse and viewpoint at the end wasn’t anything special compared to others we’ve seen, such as the Cabo’s in Portugal. Driving towards our planned stopover point at La Isleta we passed lots more polytunnels, I’d read there was a lot down here but had underestimated just how many.  Almeria is the hottest and driest region of Spain and is usually very unforgiving in terms of growing crops but the plastic covered fields are everywhere, mainly used for growing tomatoes. The beach parking area was very busy and sloping so we went back a couple of km’s to another beach where we’d spotted some campers as we passed at Los Escullos. We chose a place to park up (GPS: 36.80041 -2.06307) on a rocky section of the bay with a sea view and went out to explore the fort and rocks nearby.

From here we spent four days at more beachside spots where we’ve had some time to chill after being busy lately with sightseeing etc. We’ve spent our time walking on the beach, reading and doing some drawing working on future camper designs. The first stop was going to be at Las Negras but the parking area here was completely full, it seems a lot of Spanish were away in their vans for the Easter holiday. We’ve noticed almost all the campers in this area are Spanish registered, with just the occasional Dutch, French, German, British etc amongst them. Finding a patch of wasteland-cum-building site with a couple of vans on, we stopped here temporarily while I had a quick look around. It was a pleasant little fishing village with some restaurants on the sea front, so we’ll have to revisit it in future.

To get to the next town along, Agua Amarga, involved a long indirect route inland passing many more of the polytunnels as we weren’t sure what the suitability of the cut-across that wasn’t on our map would be. The beach parking area (GPS: 36.93961 -1.93655) which is on a dry river bed complete with no parking, no camping, and flood risk signs was again very busy. Spotting somebody leaving we got in their space and went for a look around. In the afternoon we donned sun cream and swimwear and went to chill on the sandy beach, and I had my first dip in the sea of the year (bar windsurfing).

Our spot near Palomares
Saturday’s overnight place was another spotted while driving by, we’ve seen lots of nice spots to park along this stretch of the coast. On the coast from Palomares there was a long stretch of beach with motorhomes dotted about facing straight onto the beach (GPS: 37.23307 -1.79496) so we joined them. We almost stayed a second night but ended up moving to get a bit further along, stopping at another excellent beachside location near Águilas at Playa de las Palmeras (GPS: 37.37464 -1.63875). There were a couple of alterative locations in the small neighbouring bays too. When we arrived on Easter Sunday it was busy with day trippers having parties on the beach with several gazebos set up and music playing which made us unsure of the spot and about staying for a start. By evening though it all finished and the next day it was very peaceful, so we ended up staying here again last night. I didn’t expect these kind of undeveloped beachside spots to still exist in Spain, we think it’s the most like Greece we’ve found, albeit busier.

The beach near Palomares...
...and Playa de las Palmeras

Back to Saturday, we passed through Mojácar Playa noticing a lot of British cars about and went up to Mojácar Pueblo, the old hill town. Unsure of our chances of parking on approach, after going around the outside we followed Parking signs to find a large gravel car park at the far side of the town with plenty of space for us, and within a few minutes’ walk of the centre. We picked up a map from the tourist office but didn’t end up using it, instead just wandered around and up and down the small streets. There is a main touristy area with restaurants and tat shops where there were lots of people about, and the rest of the town was quiet and reminiscent of other whitewashed hilltop towns we’ve seen. We were tempted by a beer and tapa for €1.80 but decided to carry on and get to Lidl en route to our beach for that night.

We had to move on today to get water and empty our tanks after five nights offsite parking. From here we’re going to continue following the coast moving north, hoping to meet up with Terry and Barbara who we met down in Greece last summer.

- Matt


  1. laughing about you needing to 'chill' after all that sightseeing, it's such a hard life!!!

    1. It is a hard life Mum, but someone's got to do it!