Spain is blessed with a long coastline and therefore more than 3,000 beaches. At least 430 of them have been awarded coveted Blue Flag status, which signifies cleanliness, beauty, amenities and safety.
You will have a difficult time choosing which of these beaches you want to go to first, but we will help you by selecting the best. The beaches come in all shapes and sizes, long ones or rather hidden coves, black beaches and white beaches (just not pink, you only find those in the Bahamas), fine sand or pebbles and located on the mainland, urban beaches or surrounding the Balearic or Canary islands.
Here are our first five of 10 total recommendations.
Islas Cies in Galicia
Islas Cies is an archipelago of three islands, Monteagudo, do Faro (Lighthouse Island) and San Martiño, the southernmost, located off the coast of Pontevedra/Galicia in the mouth of the Ria de Vigo. The most spectacular is a 4,000-feet-long beach of fine, white sand, called Playa de Rodas that connects two islands.
This beach has the clearest water and smooth access which makes is particularly suitable and safe for kids. The archipelago is a nature reserve, so no cars are allowed. It can only be reached in the summer by boat from Vigo or Baiona.
Protection of nature and restriction of tourism are a priority, so there are no rubbish bins on the islands. You have to take your waste back with you. There are plenty of hiking paths clearly indicated, but you are not allowed to stray. Although most visitors come for a day trip, you can also stay overnight at a small camping. Noi other accommodation is available, and you must make your reservation in the port of
Your luggage is transported in a bicycle pulled cart from the marina.
La Mata Beach, Torrevieja/Costa Blanca
This is my home beach so to speak as I live in the popular resort of Torrevieja about 90 minutes-drive from Alicante. La Mata is one of the stars of the many Costa Blanca beaches, an over 2.5-kilometer-plus long Blue Flag beach of fine, white sand with hardly any rocks except very close to the waterfront. There are spectacular views over the Mediterranean.
You find sun beds and straw umbrellas for comfort, cafés and restaurants for refreshments and, not far away, a salt lagoon with pink water and flamingos. Ideal for a relaxing day on the beach. But make sure to mind if warning flags are up ,because there can be undercurrents and choppy seas.
Playa de las Americas, Tenerife
Located on the southwestern tip of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, we find one of Europe’s most popular beaches, Playa de las Americas. This wide, white sand beach however, has a reputation as being a party beach.
If you are into peace, calm and quiet this beach is probably not for you.
But young people just love this beach with plenty of dancing, drinking and entertainment practically round the clock, That said, there are quieter corners to be found where you can enjoy swimming, water sports, sun beds, entertainment and even a golf course. And if you have enough of the beach, nothing stops you from exploring this island with its huge volcano Teide or the lush Orotava Valley and enjoying the colorful sunsets on the beach.
Cabo de Gata, Almeria
Back to the mainland and Andalusia in the South of Spain where you cannot miss Cabo de Gata. Cabo de Gata Nijar is a large and exceptional nature park. It’s of volcanic origin, defined by a rocky coastline on one hand and spectacular coves and sandy beaches on the other.
Added to that are wildlife and a protected area for birds and some villages, plus a lighthouse and watch tower.
If wonderful beaches and impressive nature are what you like most, this area is definitely for
No nightlife and partying here, but lots walks and swims on Monsul beach, one of the many, and maybe a boat trip to see it all from the water. Almeria is the nearest city and you will need a car to get from there to Cabo de Gata.
Located in the south of Spain in the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva, Doñana Beaches and Natural Park are the longest beaches in the entire country. Although it is a protected area, there is free and easy access to the beaches where the river Guadalquivir flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Maybe even more than the beaches, you will admire the incomparable nature of this swampland and the wildlife which includes the Iberian Lynx and many species of birds.
We’ll have more beaches soon because if Spain has anything, it’s lots of sea and sand.
See more beach recommendations here in Dispatches’ archives.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel and lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits among many other publications.