Monday 28 September 2020 9:00 am

Secret sunspots: the magic of Spain’s hidden beaches

The staggering beauty of Spain’s beaches is no secret. Each year, thousands of Europeans descend on the country’s sinuous coastline to savour seemingly endless stretches of sand caressed by mesmerising waves.

Indeed, there are few better destinations for seaside obsessives. From the rugged shores that meet the Atlantic and the crystal-clear lucidity of the Mediterranean, to the quiet, secluded coves and ever-evolving sand dunes, there’s a stretch of waterfront to suit every whim. And while the most popular beaches are often packed with contented sun worshippers, those in-the-know seek out the spots that fly under the radar for more relaxed, serene sojourns. 

High on the list of anyone looking to avoid the crowds is Playa de Castilla on the Costa de la Luz. Part of the incredibly diverse and protected Doñana National Park, this vast stretch of golden sand is backed by majestic cliffs and thanks to its off-the-beaten track location, it’s a surefire bet for a slice of peace and quiet. Such credentials also mean it remains free of development, with only a few chiringuitos serving fresh fish line the clifftops, so it’s the roar of the Atlantic that does most of the talking here. Fair warning: it’s also a favourite hangout among naturists so expect to see a smattering of bathers in the buff!

Many will be familiar with the oft-visited shores of the Costa Brava — it’s one of the most popular beach tourism regions in Spain, but few know about the idyllic charm of Cala Pedrosa near Tamariu. Literally translated as ‘stony cove’, the uneven path that leads to this beach means that after a short hike, it’s possible to arrive at a totally deserted beach. Surrounded by rock and pine trees on three sides, the views both upwards and out to sea are equally breath-taking. There’s a small restaurant in the bay but many bring their own snacks, allowing the possibility to switch off and soak up all the solitude that this pretty, pebbly bay has to offer. 

Elsewhere and the city of A Coruña sits on a peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic. The main beaches of Riazor, Orzán and Matadero are popular at all times, particularly with sun-kissed surfers out to chase the perfect wave. However, there’s also a series of tiny coves dotted further north that are well worth exploring for a day that’s less crowded and more laid-back. Playa de Adormideras and Playa de los Mouros are both enclosed by the region’s typically dramatic cliffs, which provide shelter from both sun and wind. Roughly a five-minute walk away from Playa de San Amaro — all the serenity of the beach just minutes from the bustling city centre. 

It wouldn’t be possible to complete a list like this without returning to the wilderness and for that, head east towards the distinctly furrowed coastline of the Asturias region. Here lies Barayo, a protected beach and unique ecosystem with a river that runs directly through to the Atlantic. A spectacular swathe of soft, honey-coloured sand, backed by dunes, eucalyptus trees, and 100m high cliffs, this beach is a nature lover’s paradise, a place where the simplicity of surrendering to the elements is all there is to do. There are no amenities and that’s part of the appeal — here, it’s just you, the sea, and the trail of footprints left behind you in the sand. When it comes to getting off-grid, this beach can’t be beaten — all the evidence required to prove that Spain’s beaches have so much more to offer. 

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