A heatwave was announced in the Axarquia region last week, and we decided to escape and spend a couple of days at the Atlantic coast, at the Costa de la Luz. The Atlantic coast is usually a bit cooler, with fresher air than the Mediterranean Costa del Sol where we live.
Tarifa, we thought. A well-known Surfing spot with famous beaches. Trying to find a place to stay very last minute in the high season with our puppy dog RockY was a bit of a challenge and finally, we found something in Conil de la Frontera, about 60 kilometers north of Tarifa.
From ur hometown Sayalonga it's a 3 hours drive. Going there we have chosen the free motorway - the old N-340. It's a drive along the coastline, you pass the popular villages of Estepona, Fuengirola, Mijas, and Marbella (called Marbs, these days) - but it's quite narrow, crowded and has got lots of roundabouts near Algeciras which made our puppy dog getting sick #poorbaby. On the way back we opted for the paid motorway, which is a much easier drive on the modern build A-7 - but it's 15 Euros to be paid at 3 pay stations. You chose.
Conil de la Frontera! I must admit I never heard it before. The entire Costa de la Luz we never traveled, and I don't know why. When we arrived on a Saturday afternoon it was super busy, the middle of July is high season. The beach was packed. The village was packed. Spanish tourists and families - we did not hear a single word in English or German throughout the 5 days we stayed.
We had booked an apartment on Airbnb in the center of Conil. WhoopWhoop, what a change for our rural tranquil Campo life. Sitting on the balcony and just watching the sea, sunsets, and people was brilliant. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on most Spanish beaches from May until October. We tried one of the Chiringuitos for dinner but were refused entrance with our RockY, too. Shame. BUT:
A friend had recommended famous dog beaches just 10 kilometers south of Conil: El Palmar de Vejer, Zahora, and Los Canos de Meca. Wow! And Wow, again! That's what I call a beach! Kilometers long. Wide. White Sand. Dunes. And: Dog-friendly! Every morning we went for a long walk on empty beaches around 10 am, followed by breakfast.
El Palmar de Vejer is a surfers hot spot. Full of young trendy people, hipsters, or how do you call them today? It's not so touristy, still more a backpacker village along the coast. We loved the relaxed atmosphere. We didn't like all the cheap Burger and Pizza places. Can't have it all, me thinking.
A great healthy breakfast we found at the AFrame Oasis restaurant: Kurkuma Latte and a Chia Fruit bowl is the best start in the day, isn't it?! They do smoothies, bagels, and all sorts of good food.
Watch out! The next beach is Zahora Beach. Stunning! The downside is the parking. Parking places charge 3 Euros and you get a voucher for a specific Chiringuito. Make sure you chose the right parking place connected to the restaurant you like. Make sure the place is open: we paid 3 Euros for our morning walk and the Chiringuito was still closed at 11 am. When we returned for dinner (yes, we wanted to spend our voucher) we found out: it's ONLY redeemed for food and ONLY if you spend more than 50euros. Ah. It felt like a rip-off - we had a voucher for a shabby-looking place called De Juan, how are we supposed to spend 50 Euros on food? We went next door: to the Sajorami Beach Restaurant and Pizzeria which was customer-friendly and nice.
We had lots of fun and were surprisingly amazed by the Costa de la Luz. Really liked it. The cooler temperatures. The fresh Atlantic breeze - no it's not cold, it's still Spanish summer heat but it's easier to breathe. A not-so-hidden-gem is Vejer de la Frontera, a white-washed Spanish village 8 kilometers inland on a hill. Some say it's even nicer than Frigiliana. We went there but couldn't find parking, again the high season, but we could spot the beauty of the village.
Another highlight I noticed is the green jogging and bike track beside the road. If you are a runner or like to bike the track connects Conil and the dog beaches, which is around 10 kilometers. It might go on further, but we haven't spotted it.
Getting there by plane: It's a bit more difficult to reach, therefore more Spanish tourists coming by car? The closest airport is Jerez which is 70 kilometers from Conil, main airline is Ryanair. Gibraltar is 100 kilometers from Conil. Malaga Airport is 200 kilometers.
We still haven't been to Tarifa. It's quite obvious that we have to go back to the Costa de la Luz. If there is another heatwave in August we might pack our bags again.