Most tourists travelling to the Costa del Sol don't realise it, but the best beaches are on the Atlantic side of southern Spain. Terifa is only an hours drive from Marbella, and from there and west, you find one fantastic beach after the other. The sand is good and not the sticky stuff you find on most beaches on the Med. side. But it can be a bit windy though.
Be aware that it is quite common on Spanish beaches to sunbath topless for females (as in most of Europe)
Here in the Barbate Natural Park you will find the Acatilado Pine (Umbrella Pine, Sciadopitys Verticillata), a very stately tree as you can see in the second photo. They almost look as if they have been trimmed of their lower branches, leaving only the top canopy. But I was assured that this is their natural growth when they crowd together. We did not hike into the forest on this day as it was drizziling (as you can see in the last photo, but it looks like a friendly place to hike.
Fondest memory: This is what I found on the internet about the park.........
This park looks out onto the Atlantic, and with the passage of time, its 3,130 hectares have been shaped by easterly winds. Its umbrella pine forest stretches down to the coast and is punctuated by impressive cliffs, some of which are over one hundred metres in height.
The park also features a 1,113-hectare coastal strip which is a rich fish-farming area.
The fishing port of Barbate is one of the busiest in the south of Spain. The town has a tuna fishery as well as a thriving tinned and salt fish industry.
The main activities in the area are pine cone collection and extensive cattle farming, along with tourism
My favourite thing about Conil has to be the golden beach that stretches for miles around lapped by the dazzling blue sea and sky and backed by nothing but a small white village. Untouched by large development, a true virgin beach. There are much prettier white towns in the Andalucia it is true, Conil can be said to be an average looking white town, but Conil's advantage is that it is ON an amazing beach and isn't industrial in any way. It is by NO means ugly either.
The other great thing about Conil is that you can use it as a base to explore other great towns and beaches close by such as Bolonia, Roche, Los Caños de Meca, El Palmar and the stunning white village, Vejer de la Frontera.
There are plenty of foreign visitors in Conil but the ARE NOT Brits abroad or sun bed stealing Germans. They are laid back Brits and Germans out to find some peace and blend in with the culture, not export theirs here.
It is not a real things to do place, but a place to forget about all your worries and relax, getting away from everything that reminds you of back home. There are no ridiculous tourist shops that sell squishy boobs and it is not overrun by English bars or the such.
It has been a German holiday resort for years and has many ex pats living in the area, but they have taken good care of it and kept it very Spanish.
I also love the fact you turn down a road and find yourself looking out to sea unexpectedly.
In Conil you`ll find two language schools- Akademia Atlantika and Academia Andaluza. In my first year in Conil I went to Akademia Atlantika and I made great progresses in speaking spanish. They offer a lot of excursions (e.g. Sevilla, Cadiz, Vejer) and social activities (parties, eating tapas together etc etc) too. they offer nice and cheap appartments too, all of them with roof terraces. just in one appartment there were cockroaches, i think it`s close to calle trafalgar, so be aware. the only disadvantage i think is, that there are just german speaking students, so you don`t practize spanish with the others and you don`t get to know different cultures, which would be more interesting. average age of people is between 18 and 35, but there are some younger and older guys too.
In my second year in Conil I went to Academia Andaluza, which is slightly cheaper. It is in a lovely andalucian style building. I found courses less professional than at Atlantika. They have less students, so it can be a problem for them to find the right level for everybody. So I was in a level, which was too low for me and got bored a bit. Although I complaint, they didn`t do anything about it. Their flats are less nice than the ones Atlantika offer. On the other hand I would say that I liked the atmosphere better than at Atlantika. At Andaluza too, there were apart from 1 italian and one british guy only german speaking students.
"Almadrabas" are tuna fish fishing trips. Many little boats gather around the group of tuna fishes passing near the coast and make a kind of circle, trapping them in. After that, they have to catch them and take them into the boat. Some fishes are more than 2 meters long (see pic) so it's a very dramatic fight!!
There are not many chance of seeing one "live" unless you know one of the fishermen and they accept you on board.
You can see sometimes the groups of boats from the coast.
Favorite thing: This arch is a very popular location, the entrance to the Plaza de Espana and to the village center. It's a practical reference when you are trying to find a place or street and an easy meeting place.
LA FONTANILLA beach (Conil)
This wonderful endless white sand beach located in Conil continues to the south with some other equally wonderful ones (Los Bateles, Zahora), till the Trafalgar Cape & Lighthouse.
Though it may get crowded in peak summer, you'll always find a place for your towel!! And if not, just walk a kilometer southwards and the beach gets wilder... you can even find tents of nudist tourists!!!
Several bars, showers, life-guards, parking...
Photo courtesy of Carmela71
For your safety, the Conil playa has a beach guard service. There is also toilette facilities on the beach, outdoor shower and a good bar if you get thirsty ;-)
Good parking, and good restaurants.
Favorite thing: A long board walk gives easy access to the beach, but once you are on the sand it is advisable to use sandals. The sand can be hot enough to burn your feet!
Favorite thing: This endless white sand beach stands at the north, out of the village, close to "El Fuerte" hotel. Blue flag of the European Community.