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Treasure Island beach walk

21 May

Last weekend we wanted to do a morning walk before the weather really gets too hot to even think about walking – so our friends Mike and Gill, who are very keen walkers – told us about one particular route they had done which gave you two options.  The first one is a much more challenging walk over quite big hills above the beaches beyond Mojacar; the second is a coastal walk, but along a decent, flat track for the less ambitious. Both start from the tower at Macenas beach as you head for Carboneras.

Meeting point at Macenas tower

We didn’t have to start too early, although the forecast was for the high eighties on the Saturday that we went.  But anyhow, we agreed to meet at an acceptable 10.30 and promised Gill that we would be on time as we always seem to be 10 or 15 minutes late when going to theirs for lunch!  So, we set off extra early, and they still beat us to it.

Signposted all of the way

We were hoping to be 6 or 8 but everyone else cried off for various reasons, so with it just being the four of us, Mike gave us the option to either do the more difficult, over the hills walk (I hasten to add there was a promise of a beautiful beach and tapas lunch in the chiringuito at the end of the two hours that it would take to get there!) or to do the easier coastal walk to the same point, but which would only take an hour or so.  I thought as it wasn’t too hot, that even I would brave the hills.

The sea view

Shelters on top of the hill

This is where someone having done the route already pays off, as Gill kind of kept me up to date with what to expect; it was tricky here, steep there, over the worst bit – that kind of thing!  Not being much of a walker myself, it all helps to keep you going.  There were several gorgeous natural stops on the way where the council have put up seating areas and little cabins to get a bit of shade while you catch your breath and have a glug of water (which obviously is essential to take with you).

Keep going!

The way down.

It was as challenging a walk as I would like –  a few quite hairy bits going down some steep slopes with nothing to hold on to,  but nothing that phased our 70 something companions!  They are quite amazing and remained undaunted, but seriously, if you are of a certain age and not used to walking, then take the coastal route which is just lovely too.

The beach before Treasure Island beach

2 hours later we arrived at Treasure Island beach (yes really they shot the Orson Wells version here in 1972).  It is just lovely, unspoilt and with just one chiringuito, Manaca,  to have drinks, tapas or lunch.  You could quite happily spend the whole afternoon here – and the good thing is that it can be reached by car too, so you could pack everything up and come for the whole day, away from the more popular beaches in Mojacar.  You need brollies and something to lie on though as it really is a natural beach with no other facilities apart from the beach bar.

Treasure Island beach

Chiringuito Manaca

He was a bit thinner then

We arrived for lunch and of course a much needed drink, tinto verano in my case (summer wine a bit like sangria) – just lovely.  Then the owner came out with the menus and a chameleon – (see the picture!) who live naturally here in the trees.  He was very friendly and unphased by being handled by us (the chameleon, not the owner).

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma etc.

The walk back to Chiringuito Macenas is a about 40 minutes long and passes past the old lookout point. Very dramatic scenery here.


The walk back

The old lookout point

Walkers delight – Chiringuito Macenas

So maybe from now on, if you do want to try this walk, you would need to start by 9 in the morning at this time of year, a little earlier as we go through to July, or even go when the sun is setting and have a swim and a sun-downer atTreasure Island beach.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.






Playa de la Carolina – San Juan

11 Apr

I have written about San Juan beach before and we love it there, but today (Friday) we decided to explore the little coves beyond San Juan.  We found one tiny little bay in the shape of a horse shoe – I must admit we did a few three point turns before finding it – to get to it you have to drive down some narrow streets where there are some lovely holiday homes, obviously built long before the developers moved in.  They are that lovely kind of old fashioned, unflashy type of home that I remember in Cornwall from childhood holidays, with buckets and spades dropped outside the back door and airers with beach towels drying in the late afternoon sun.  Beyond these, is this unnamed beach, a tiny stretch of sand, one chiringuito slap bang on the beach and as it is still spring and term time, no-one there but us!  I imagine from July it won’t be quite like this, but for now we are enjoying the solitude and so stop and have a coffee and just, well, be!

Afterwards we head a little further up the beach to Carolina Playa – another quite unspoilt and deserted beach and except for a couple of dog walkers, again it is just us! There are no facilities here, so you need to be prepared with chairs, brolleys, cushions and a picnic and frankly you don’t need anything else.  Or you can drive back to San Juan and have lunch at La Isla, a great restaurant in the little town.

These beaches and coves are the complete opposite of, say, Mojacar Beach, which we still love, but are for those looking for something very much more tranquil and untouristy.  I like both types at different times, depending on my mood – it is perfect for today.




Agua Amarga, Cabo de Gato

14 Oct

It is Tuesday and Mick has taken the day off, along with every single person in Spain!  It is Christopher Columbus day here (and in the States too I think!).  It is a holiday for the armed forces and the police (a great day to commit a crime!) and a national holiday.  We decide to go for lunch at our favourite beach, Agua Amarga, or bitter waters, about 40 minutes away.  You can take a fantastic scenic route along the coast past Mojacar and then go up the scary, but beautiful, mountain road.  It takes longer though and is no good for people who don’t like heights and narrow hairpin bends!!


Agua Amarga beach


Anyhow, we choose the motorway route for speed and comfort as we have Mick’s mum, Sadie with us – it is still a wonderful drive once you are off the motorway, around 35 kms from the house.  Then you have an awesome drive through the Cabo de Gato (Cape of Cats) – a kind of Spanish moors if you like.  It is very remote and isolated but quite stunning and the road just goes straight through the middle of it.


Costa Amarga restaurant


After about 15 minutes you arrive at the town of Agua Amarga, a little place which used to be a fishing village, but now I think is a popular place for holiday homes, although you do of course still get some little fishing boats here.  It is simply an exquisite place, with a couple of rather lovely little hotels and 4 or 5 restaurants on the beach.  A few are still open for lunch well into November so we pick our favourite one, right on the beach and overlooking nothing but a turquoise sea and rugged landscape either side and some beautiful villas.  We tuck into red mullet, chips and salad with a glass of vino and a coffee – the menu is vast and full of delicious things, but we have friends coming for dinner so don’t go too mad.  Agua Amarga is one of the chicest beaches around us and at this time of year virtually empty apart from a few families out for the day or who have just come out for a long lunch as it is a holiday.  Even in season it is too off the beaten track for the coach party crowd and isn’t really on the tourist map but mainly frequented by Spanish people or English, Dutch and German people in the know.  It was featured in the film Sexy Beast, and visitors will recognise the villa on the left hand side on the hill as you drive into town.


Lunchtime view


Reluctantly we get ready to leave wishing we had brought our towels to spend the afternoon lazing on the beach on one of the last days of summer…..but we will be back for lunch again before winter sets in.

Playa de los Genoveses

11 Sep

This is surely one of the regions most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the Cabo de Gata – a huge area of natural beauty – you enter the town of San Jose, quite close to Almeria, and follow the signs to it.  The road, or rather, track, is very bumpy for a kilometre or two and when you arrive you have a little trek over some dunes to the vast expanse of beach and sea so it is really only accessible for the able bodied.  But it is well worth the effort and is absolutely stunning and puts one in mind of Cornwall.  Recently, the local authority limited the amount of cars that they permitted to park there and so during the height of the summer you have to be an early bird to get access to the beach.

A fantastic place to spend the day

However, now is the perfect time to go – the bulk of holidaymakers both Spanish and English have returned home, and this is our time to take advantage of the peace and quiet and the still gorgeous weather.  Take a picnic, books, cushions, umbrellas, wine and flasks of tea and you are all set for the most peaceful and relaxing time.  Stay all day and enjoy the sunset – then head for San Jose 10 minutes away for an early evening drink before coming home.

San Juan de los Terreros

31 Aug

The last Saturday in August and I am thinking “Can it get any hotter?” I am rushing through my chores, the rooms, clearing up breakfast and doing a bit of preparation for dinner tonight as we have a houseful – 10 including 4 under the age of 7!  The littlies are having lasagne at 7 pm so that their parents can enjoy a relaxed dinner later.  They are all allowed to stay up tonight for the outdoor cinema – they are on holiday and they don’t want to go to bed, even the littlest 2 year old! 

By two o’clock we are just about ready to head off to one of our other lovely beaches at San Juan de los Terreros – only a 20 minute drive away.  So we head off for the pleasant short drive there, a windy road through lots of hilly countryside and nothing on the road because is it lunchtime, something, rather like the French, Spaniards take great pleasure in though it is a rather less formal affair. 

We go to our favourite chiringuito, Perichan, which is packed but they find us a table for two.  Even though there are dozens of people the service is great – they take your drinks order immediately and bring them back with bread and garlic mayonnaise and leave you to peruse the menu, taking the pressure off them and you not waiting!  I order grilled sepia with salad (squid) and Mick orders a hamburger because I am cooking fish tonight!  The menu is huge so there will be something for everyone but as we on the sea, obviously fish is the choice of the day.  You can have huge platter of mixed seafood or fish to share, a bottle of vino and a salad for under 20 euros a head.

San Juan Calypso hotel

Then as we are a bit pushed for time today, we head back down the beach to our favourite spot, in front of the Calypso hotel.  There are beds and brollies for hire, an air conditioned bar for those who wish to escape the heat and a great restaurant too but you need a bit of time to linger over lunch here.  We nap and read a little, and then just before coming home at 5.30, I go for a delicious swim.  The waves are up and I leap around to keep above them and enjoy the feeling of being on holiday, albeit only for a short while.  We wish we could stay till sunset, and next week when we are by ourselves we will.

Las Brisas – Villaricos Playa

16 Aug

Placido Domingo or Lazy Sunday to you!  We went down to our nearest beach at Villaricos to meet some friends for lunch at one of our favourite restaurants, Las Brisas.  It is a charming chiringuito that serves fantastic food at lunchtimes.  6 or 8 choices of fresh fish, prawns, salads, and a decent choice of meat, steaks, lamb chops and pork dishes.

Lovely Sunday lunch

If you want the traditional lunch of Paella, you need to telephone the day before (apparently it is naff to have paella at any other time of day though goodness knows why!).

Paella - order the day before!

After a two hour lunch (pathetically short) it is down to the sea 10 yards away for a refreshing dip – the waves knock us off our feet and all hope of looking like Ursula Andress emerging from the surf goes out the window!  We don’t care – we have the rest of the afternoon ahead of us.  The beach here is under 15 minutes drive from the Cortijo so even if you just want a swim and a beer for an hour during the day it is no hassle.

Villaricos Playa

It is a lovely natural beach, with no umbrellas or beds – you take your own.  There is a natural lagoon so the water is always really warm at this time of year and the shore is flanked by lots of local Spanish families coming down to enjoy their regular family day out.  They bring everything but the kitchen sink with them and sit right on top of the water’s edge so nipping in and out of the waves is not too much effort!  They won’t leave untl sundown, but I have to get back to cook dinner for my guests but luckily I have prepared most it in the morning, so only a bit of last minute cooking to do.  I won’t get to bed before midnight as the kids have requested ‘The Hangover’ in the outdoor cinema after dinner.  There will be plenty of time for early nights in the autumn and if I am lucky I will get a short siesta in on Monday afternoon.

Las Brisas telephone number: 639 600 949

Vera Beach

12 Aug

Vera Beach is a beautiful long stretch of sand where you can happily spend the day sunbathing and swimming, or for those of you who like a bit more action, wind surfing or sailing the catamarans for hire.  It is just beyond the water Park so you can spend the morning on the beach and go to the park in the afternoon.  The water is clear and warm and there are beds and umberellas for hire.

Mick and I are off to Vera Beach after work for a drink at Lua, the beach club there (click here for pics etc) It is a very chilled out place for a drink either outside looking over the beach on the grass area or inside in the cool of the air-conditioned bar.  It is around 15 minutes away from the Cortijo by car so easy to get to either for a quick drink or to go later on for dinner.

You can lunch at Lua and use their facilities too -either a casual pizza or something more substantial – it is all good.  They also have a swimming pool and beds and umberellas next to the bar if you prefer.  Be careful which part of the beach you end up on though as it is Spain’s first legal naturist resort at one end so you may get more than you bargained for.  Err not for me thanks!  I like to take my early evening cocktail with my bikini on!