ROQUETAS AND THE COSTA ALMERÍA
"Costa de Almería"
There is an area of Spain that, until relatively recently, has been largely undiscovered by Northern European holidaymakers despite the fact that it is has more sunshine hours than anywhere else on the Iberian Peninsula. Welcome to the province of Almería, the most easterly of the eight provinces of Andalucía.
With its unspoiled coastline, the Costa de Almería is fast becoming a popular destination for both holidaymakers and those seeking a new life in
the sun. The two principal resorts are Mojácar and Roquetas de Mar but there are miles upon miles of virgin beaches, particularly in the natural park of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar. Some of the coves there are only reachable on foot.
Northeast of this spectacular park is Mojácar - a Moorish fortress town standing on a towering crag overlooking the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.
Northern Europeans discovered this attractive pueblo blanco much earlier than the other resorts along this coastline - it was populated by new age
folk in the 60s who helped regenerate a town that was falling into disrepair. I quite like Mojácar Pueblo with its labyrinth of steep cobbled winding streets, old houses and tiny bars. However, it is rather
touristy and has several souvenir shops. Just down the road is Mojácar Playa. I do not like it but lots of Brits do. There are too many English bars and shops along the long coastal strip for my liking. I much prefer Roquetas de Mar but then I am biased - I live there!
"Roquetas de Mar"
Roquetas de Mar is rapidly developing into one of the most attractive seaside resorts in southern Spain. It is popular with Spanish holidaymakers but increasing numbers of Northern Europeans are choosing to visit. Some, like yours truly, have decided to live here.
Roquetas does not have the brash, mass tourism of other Spanish resorts. Life here moves at a much gentler pace but is far from boring. All along the Spanish coastline and in the inland villages there are frequent celebrations to honour various patron saints. Roquetas is no exception. It has a number of festivals during the year. The most important celebration being in honour of the Virgen del Carmen and Santa Ana that takes place every July with a maritime celebration. During the summer months, Roquetas Town Council puts on numerous open-air concerts. These performances cater for all tastes including as they do flamenco, pop, jazz and classical music as well as shows for children. Entrance is free. There are occasional free concerts at the theatre that opened around four years ago. However, we do have to pay to see artists like Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras who have appeared there.
The town of Roquetas de Mar used to be a fishing village and the area around the old port is particularly attractive with a sensitive mix of new
apartment blocks and old fishermen's houses. Adjacent to the port area is the Castillo Santa Ana, which was built on the site of the old castle. It is
currently used as an exhibition centre but rumour has it that it will, in future, be the home of the Roquetas Museum of the Sea. Next to the castle is the old lighthouse.
The resort has several miles of sandy beaches, all with blue flag status. They stretch from Aguadulce in the east to the Natural Park of Puntas
Entinas-Sabinar in the west. In between are the districts of Las Salinas, Roquetas old town and the Urbanización.
The up-and-coming Las Salinas area of Roquetas is set on the vast plains of salt flats at the foot of the Sierra de Gádor. The main tourist area is
called the Urbanización de Roquetas de Mar. Its attractive promenade is fringed with palm trees. There are a number of British and German hostelries but they intermingle with Spanish ones. Aguadulce is part of the municipality of Roquetas de Mar but it is a separate but equally appealing resort with a fine marina.