In recent years, Malaga has grown into a chic, contemporary and culturally vibrant hub where there’s always something going on. From the Picasso and Thyssen museums to the graffiti-adorned Soho District there’s so much to see in the way of stunning, intelligent art. Music-wise, top bands and artists regularly put on sell-out shows across the city. What’s more, the eating and drinking scene in Malaga is as enjoyable and unpretentious as any you’re likely to find in Andalucia, with as much emphasis placed on tradition as there is on innovation.
But Malaga’s charms certainly don’t begin and end with the city itself. Stretching away in both directions are some of the finest strips of sand to be found anywhere in southern Spain. And with this in mind, we’ve put together our pick of a few of the best Malaga beaches, broken down into six different categories. Some are within walking distance of the city itself; others are further along the Costa del Sol. All are absolutely fantastic.
Beaches for the Stressed & Overworked
It almost goes without saying that it’s hard not to relax on a beach when you’re used to the daily grind back home. There are, as ever, though some beaches that are particularly suited to unwinding. Playa del Campo de Golf, on the outskirts of Malaga city, is a good bet if you’re looking to flit between quiet sunbathing and a round or two of golf on the neighbouring Parador Hotel’s golf course (Golfenparadores.es).
However, if you really want to drift off into a world of your own, the most idyllic spots tend to be beaches near Malaga like Maro or El Cañuelo, to the east of the city on the way to Nerja, where you’ll find little else other than the soothing sound of waves to disturb your gentle dozing.
El Cristo in Estepona, to the west, also offers a perfect package of peace, tranquillity, beautiful surroundings and some superb snorkelling opportunities.
Beaches for Surfers
Thanks to the strong levante and poniente winds that periodically lick the south coast of Spain, surfing, kitesurfing and other water sports have become very popular in Malaga province. A couple of the best spots include Benalmadena, a few kilometres to the west of Malaga, El Castillo, just below the castle of Fuengirola, and El Chaparral, between Fuengirola and Marbella, where the swells reach perfect size for beginner-intermediate surfers on a windy day.
Surfing equipment is usually available for hire or purchase at reasonable prices from local surfing businesses (Yumping.com), and lessons are offered too.
Beaches for ExplorersOccasionally, sunbathing may get boring and cold water or choppy waves may make swimming seem off-putting. In such cases, it’s nice to be able to wander off and look for something else to do. Baños del Carmen offers this alternative, since it’s home to Malaga’s first ever public and mixed bathing spa, El Balneario Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Wikipedia.org). The historical landmark, which opened all the way back in 1918, has survived years of redevelopment planning (just) and makes a peaceful seaside setting even more appealing.
If underwater exploration is more your thing, you can go scuba diving in numerous locations along the Costa del Sol, such as Torremolinos and Benalmadena to the west, La Cala del Moral to the east and Nerja further to the east. There are diving schools in these areas that offer exciting courses and opportunities to explore the coast’s coral reefs and wrecks.
Beaches for Kids
If you’re travelling as a family then you’ll doubtless want to make sure that your kids are kept entertained for as long as possible as you relax. Several Malaga beaches, such as Playa de San Andres, Pedregalejo and La Malagueta boast children’s play areas that can keep the little ones busy for hours.
What’s more, the safety measures in place across all of Malaga’s city beaches are reassuringly rigorous and up-to-date. La Malagueta is the first beach in the world to use the ‘orange point’ lifesaving device (Sos-orange.com), which is essentially a rope powered by an electric motor that is used to haul people (not necessarily kids, of course) back to safety if they swim themselves into trouble.
Further afield, again in Nerja to the east of the city, you can rent kayaks from Burriana Beach and paddle down to Maro, passing caves and waterfalls as you go.
Beaches for Naturists
While most will prefer the crotch-covered safety of popular beaches, others may be happy to to let it all hang out on one of the coastline’s selection of nudist beaches, which, naturally (pardon the pun), are fewer in number.
Malaga city’s only nudist beach is Guadalmar, which can be found by the mouth of the Guadalhorce river in the San Julian neighbourhood. Further west is Benalnatura, a quiet corner of Benalmadena sandwiched between two apartment blocks and hidden among palm trees. The facilities are rather good, with showers, toilets, a barbecue area and even a chiringuito (beach restaurant) that only serves naked patrons. The beach is clean and well looked after by a devoted nudist association.
Going east, beyond Nerja and Maro, is Cala del Pino, a tiny and well-hidden strip of sand reached via a steep path among jagged rocks (it is advised not to be naked at this time) from the coastal A-road. When there’s no wind to disturb the normally crystal-clear water, snorkelling conditions are perfect, with many brightly coloured fish and underwater rock formations to swim amongst. However, word of secluded idyllic beaches gets around, and this treasured stretch has begun to fill up fast in the summer months.
Beaches for Partygoers
The Costa del Sol is well known for its bouncing nightlife, and its beaches have a big part to play in that. La Malagueta – Malaga city’s largest and busiest beach – not only offers an ample selection of buzzing bars and clubs but also hosts the closing ceremonies of the annual feria during the first two weeks of August. Things get incredibly noisy, colourful and generally pretty chaotic but for keen partygoers it’s a must to put in the diary.
For wild shenanigans elsewhere, you could spend the afternoon knocking back mojitos in chiringuitos in Las Acacias, or jump in a taxi and head for Marbella’s famous Nikki Beach Club (Nikkibeach.com). The private parties held at this beach club are famously stylish and full of wild, carnival-inspired entertainment, which for many can be the highlight of a holiday.
Like our pick of a few of the best beaches in Malaga and looking for a fabulous place to stay in the area? Check out our collection of luxury Malaga villas to rent.