Avoid Crowded Costas To Discover A Secret Spain

By: Ross Marchant

Tourists considering a summer holiday this year may be put off by the idea of a crowded beach on a Spanish Costa or the over familiarity of holiday resorts packed with British tourists. There are however, areas of Spain that are not over-populated by tourists and offer unspoilt beaches. The Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) on the sandy shores of the Atlantic in the South West corner of Spain offers an alternative to commercialised Mediterranean resorts. Stretching from Tarifa to the border of the Algarve, The Costa de la Luz is a favourite with the Spanish. In fact you may find yourself longing for company as you stroll along the near deserted and tranquil beaches.

With restrictions on development meaning many of the beaches remain unspoilt, Costa de la Luz holidays enjoy a notably Andalucian atmosphere with a strong flamenco tradition and extraordinary carnivals and religious processions. Holidays on the Costa de la Luz feature superb Andalucian cuisine with tapas bars and superior fish and seafood far outweighing more predictable tourist menus. The mix of golden sandy beaches, friendly locals and excellent cuisine ensure holidays in the Costa de la Luz are a wonderful experience and one that is yet to be exposed on a grand scale.

However this is not to say it does attract a number of discerning holidaymakers with the insight to appreciate what is on offer, namely the near perfect windsurfing conditions and the world class surfing.

Although the attractive beaches are vast and often seem deserted, they are also within reach of some of Europe's most fascinating cities meaning you can be in touch with the best of both worlds. This particular area of Andalucia is populated by historic cities rich in culture and tradition such as Cadiz, Seville and Jerez, or beautiful hilltop towns like Vejer and Arcos. One minute you are strolling along a deserted and unspoilt beach, the next you could be exploring vibrant Andalucian cities. An excellent example, Tarifa boasts a labyrinth of boutiques, surf shops, terraced cafes and restaurants dotted around the streets which wind up towards the late-Gothic 15th century church of San Mateo and a great castle overlooking the town. Tarifa boasts an impressive nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs encouraging a growing reputation as a ‘new Ibiza' or even the ‘European Malibu'.

Other holidaymakers are drawn by the more relaxing pursuits of walking, bird watching and horse riding or simply soaking up the Spanish sun. In fact, the Costa de la Luz is a magnet for birdwatchers. Between Cadiz and Southern Portugal lies the largest wildlife reserve in Europe, the Coto Donanan National Park, home to an unprecedented amount of bird species. This area of Spain is also one of the most historic, with the 2nd century BC Roman site of Baela Claudia, around 9 miles north of Tarifa, which hosts many temples and a restored theatre carved from the side of a hilltop. Another nearby picturesque town, Vejer de la Fontera, sits high upon the hills with a 16 century church and a delightful Spanish plaza incorporating spectacular views.

For tourists tired of commercialised Spanish resorts, the Costa de la Luz shows the real, traditional side of Spain with an array of attractions to match far bolder holiday resorts that lie within neighbouring Costas. The only difference is that for now, it is left relatively untouched, also meaning there are chances to find cheaper deals. More recommended resorts in the Costa de la Luz include Chipiona, situated close to Jerez which is popular with Cadiz and Seville locals.

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