by Karla Erovick
The Costa del Sol is the most amazing 150 kilometers of beautiful beaches, sparkling azure seas and sun drenched sand. It is the perfect destination for the Diva who is in search of the perfect climate and beach vacation.
Located in the Andalucia region of Spain, it combines white-washed towns with Moorish architecture. Although I know few people who have experienced the charms of the Costa del Sol, over 23 million people visited the region last year, so it’s hardly a secret. During my stay, I visited three distinct Andalucian towns, all with their own attraction and charm.
Marbella is the favored destination of the beautiful people, jet-setters and celebrities the world over. Marbella’s beautiful 26 mile beach, bayside resorts and nightclubs have it all. Stay at Puente Romano for ultimate pampering, located in a lush garden setting in Moorish style villas. The resort cuts a swath to the beach as it winds through tropical gardens and landscaping. The resort’s private beach, restaurants, and nightclubs are some of the finest with guaranteed access for guests.
If you choose a relaxing vacation, there is a spa and workout facility with your choice of three distinct lushly landscaped outdoor pools. The beach promenade stretches for miles along a gorgeous coastline and makes for wonderful strolls at dusk. The inviting private beach offers beach chairs, umbrellas and round platforms. It will be a tough choice as to where to enjoy sunbathing as the three pools are amidst tropical foliage and each are idyllic. You could easily mistake Marbella for Santa Barbara; both have mountains framing a beautiful palm-lined, sun-drenched coast and a near-perfect climate.
The beach vendors have tents in which they sell their wares catering to beach-goers, selling cover-ups, shisha pipes (which they also rent) and various crafts and art pieces, all to make your stay more comfortable. You can also rent kayaks or jet skis. Marbella is nearly an hour’s drive from the Malaga Airport. There are numerous taxi’s available for hire. Puerto Banus is home to some of the world’s largest yachts, shopping, the famed Nikki Beach Club and stylish restaurants and clubs, and only a quick ten minute taxi ride from Puente Romano.
This charming Andalucian hill town overlooks the beautiful Mediterranean and coastal town of Fuengirola. The town’s center is located on a hilltop featuring winding narrow cobbled streets with shops and restaurants. A horse-drawn carriage transports visitors up to the top of town. The restaurants serve Spanish cuisine, tapas and barbequed meats right off the grill in a delightful, authentic environment.
Hotel Mijas is a lovely and inviting retreat with many offerings for the weary traveler. Unwind at the beautiful pool or in the spa with a variety of tantalizing treatments. The hotel offers poolside dining, a restaurant and bar. Most rooms have balconies with sweeping views of the Mediterranean or the pool.
Spend a few hours strolling up to the town center where you will find charming restaurants and shops offering a variety of wares. A beautiful plaza with fountain, church and concert venue anchors the town. The bull fighting ring is the only one in Spain of its shape.
Stroll along the tree-lined promenade and enjoy the views of the white-washed hillside town. Enjoy the history of the narrow streets, only wide enough for a single car, but forced to accommodate modern delivery trucks. You could spend a day or a week in Mijas and still not experience all of its lovely charms. Or stay here and make day trips to the towns of Ronda, Seville, and Granada.
Directly above the hotel, via a staircase are several restaurants all with outdoor dining, which all look delightful. I chose the El Puerto Italian restaurant which turned out to be a perfect choice. The owner speaks English and visited the U.S. while serving as a chef on a cruise line. His pictures add a personal touch to the small restaurant. The food is excellent and the service is responsive.
Getting to Mijas from Malaga is a 30 minute ride by taxi. Buses also run to Mijas from the Malaga Bus Station. Mijas is a 60 euro cab ride from Malaga Airport.
This is a jewel on the Costa del Sol; an Andalucian seaside town where in-the-know Europeans vacation each summer. Famous for its Caves, this charming town features narrow winding cobbled streets, great restaurants, interesting shops and more beaches than you can possibly explore, along with warm and friendly residents.
The heart of the town is the Balcony of Europe, the site of a former Moorish castle. Today it is the site of numerous restaurants, shops and access to some of the most charming beaches imaginable. Nerja can be reached from Malaga, about an hour’s drive or by bus from the Malaga Bus Station.
Getting around: Walking is the preferred method of transportation, with most attractions a mere 10 minute stroll. Merchants are friendly and accommodating. It helps to speak a little Spanish which they appreciate and reciprocate. The Tourism Office located near the Balcony of Europe offers tourist maps, brochures and assistance to tourists.
Shopping: The narrow streets feature a variety of shops and restaurants all worth exploring. A trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the leather goods store with offerings of beautiful clothing, of which there are several from which to choose. When I was there in summer, one of the stores was offering an extra 30% discount to encourage buyers. Being a Tango Diva, I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful coat.
Beaches: From the center of Nerja, there are seven beaches all a ten minute stroll. The beaches vary with the amenities available and the size of the beach. For my five day visit, I planned to experience a different beach every day. The maps available at the Tourist Office show what services each beach offers. If you plan to stay at the beach more than a couple of hours, a beach umbrella is a necessity. Acceptable beach attire for women ranges widely from Muslim women covering heads and bodies to topless European women.
During siesta time (3 to 6 pm) most shops and restaurants close. This is the perfect time for a nap so you will be ready for the night-time activities. One of the curious things about Nerja is that they cater to Western travelers with early dining (8 pm) at most restaurants. The Spanish eat much later so the restaurants have a second seating.
Nightlife: There are numerous restaurants and bars and many of them offer live music. Check the schedule for Flamenco Shows which happen several times per week. The evenings are lively as the Plaza comes to life with people of all ages, drinking coffee, eating ice cream and strolling near the Balcony of Europe. Young girls are dressed in their finest as they cruise for boys all under the watchful eyes of their families.
As a solo diva, it is fun to dine al fresco and watch the procession or to be a part of it. You can ride in horse-drawn carriage around the town in about 20 minutes for a reasonable fee. There is even a disco on the weekends.
Restaurants: Nerja offers a variety of cuisines including tapas and seafood. Some places offer roof-top dining, while others offer sea-views or street scenes. If you long for the companionship of other Westerners, visit the British pubs; they are plentiful. Otherwise, frequent the small locally owned restaurants where you will have an authentic Spanish experience. The grocery store located on Calle San Miguel is a great place to purchase bottled water, fruit and other snacks. Their hours are irregular, so shop early in the day.
Adventures: There are water sports, rock climbing, paragliding and other adventures available if you are so inclined. A visit to Nerja wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Nerja Caves. You can take a taxi, or take the local bus, which is only about 15 minutes or if you are feeling adventurous you can walk there, but it is all up hill.
The Caves are phenomenal, well lighted and marked with exhibit information in appropriate places. I suggest not going on the weekend or you will find yourself tangled up behind extended families. Once there, you will find a gift shop, restaurant and museum. Since it is a tourist attraction, they will take your photograph and later sell it to you.
My visit to the Costa del Sol was a wonderful mélange of nightlife, shopping and relaxation. I can’t wait to return for another visit when I can explore even more of Andalucian Spain.
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Adventure Activities in Nerja: www.nerjaadventures.com
Marbella: Hotel Puente Romano
Mijas: Hotel Mijas
Nerja: Hotel Balcon de Europa is a beautiful accommodations located above a stunning beach on the Balcony of Europe, in the heart of it all.
Hostales San Miguel is a clean, small privately run hotel with a swimming pool on the roof located conveniently close to everything. Private rooms with bathrooms and small balconies are available for great rates.
About the Author:
Karla Erovick is regular Tango Diva writer, authoring articles on Dubai and Panama. She loves to travel to undiscovered destinations and is always planning her next exotic trip. She is the author of a dating guide for women entitled, “Love to Date—Date to Love: Unlocking the Secrets of Dating.”