Nearby Otívar is a small village of about 1,000 residents located on the ancient and very scenic mountain road (well worth a trip out) connecting Almuñécar with Granada. The village has a few bars and restaurants, two banks (one with a cash dispenser), small shops and supermarket. Fresh fish is delivered to the village from the coast daily and local bread and delicacies can be bought from the two bakeries.
Situated in the Sierra del Chaparral, between the Sierra de Los Guajares and Almijara mountain ranges, Otívar is just 20 minutes inland from Almuñecar on the coast.
The Rio Verde of Otivar offers abundant outdoor sporting activities. It boasts many waterfalls and rapids, as well as deep ravines and gorges. One can go trekking, rafting, rock climbing, caving, and mountain climbing here.
Almuñécar is the biggest resort town on the Costa Tropical, very popular with Granadinos who pour out of the city every weekend and head off to the sea. It has a popular salt-water aquapark and a fabulous jazz festival each summer (in July).
10 minutes further along ther coast, La Herradura has one of the prettiest bays anywhere on the south coast of Spain. Two huge natural promontories, the Punta de la Mona and Cerro Gordo, protect a 2 km long beach fronted by a procession of restaurants, bars, hostals and shops. Unlike almost anywhere else along the coast, development has been restricted in height and you can still enjoy the contours of its natural setting. The village climbs up the gentle slopes leading up from the beach.
Throughout the length of the bay you’ll find plenty of chiringuitos (beach bars), and there are a number of watersports clubs. It’s a cheerful, peaceful, laid back place in the best tradition of Spanish seaside towns. A relaxed lunch at one of the beach bars is highly recommended – even in winter if the sun is shining!
The next resort town along is Nerja. Much more “international” with a strong British presence (you can have a curry here … ) it boasts 16 kilometres of beaches with powdery sand and sparkling clear water.
The heart of Nerja is its spectacular Balcón de Europa, a magnificent promenade along the edge of a towering cliff, with sweeping panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the small coves and beaches below, against an awesome backdrop of hazy blue mountains.
However, Nerja’s most spectacular attraction is undoubtedly its magnificent caves – a series of huge caverns stretching for almost five kilometres and home to the world’s largest stalagmite, a 32 metre high column measuring 13 metres by 7 metres at its base. Located three kilometres out of town there are archaeological treasures galore including paintings over 20,000 years old and other pre-historic remains.
One of the enormous natural caverns has been transformed into a concert hall, where many fabulous performances (classical and flamenco) are staged during the summer. The International Festival of Music and Dance takes place in mid July each year.
Even closer than Nerja, just on the other side of the huge Cerro Gordo promontory to the west of La Herradura lies a splendid but isolated beach, Playa de Cantarriján. It’s a favourite spot for many. Part of the sand and shingle beach has been designated a nudist bathing area, although the western end is normally occupied by conventional sunbathers. There are a couple of good beachbars/ restaurants open throughout the season.
Granada is, of course, a must-see city. Soaring high above is the spectacular back drop of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. And what a city lies below, a city of classical beauty, the jewel in the Spanish Crown.
The mesmerising Alhambra Palace and its exquisite gardens, one of the world’s greatest wonders; the narrow, cobbled streets and beautiful walled gardens of the ancient Arab quarter, El Albaicín; the magnificent Cathedral, just one of many superb examples of Renaissance architecture; the caves of Sacramonte, nostalgic legacy of the gypsies.
A city which inspired García Lorca, Andalucía’s finest poet, it is, above all, a people’s city, full of life and colour, energy and fun.
For something completely different, turn off the motorway (on the way to Granada) for Las Alpujarras. Between the highest mountains in Spain and the Mediterranean Sea, Las Alpujarras is one of the most enchanting and beautiful regions in the world, a joyous land of sunshine, snowy mountains and some of the most splendid scenery imaginable.
The Moors took refuge in these hills and resisted here, maintaining their customs and way of life for well over a hundred years after they were expelled from Granada in 1492 by their Christian conquerors. Las Alpujarras was their final battlefield in Spain.
Their legacy is to be seen everywhere: in the distinctive architecture of the mountain villages and in the intricate system of irrigation waterways which they built and which still keep the landscape green and fertile, fed by the snows melting high in the sierras above.
If you like walking or horse riding, this is the place to be.
As mentioned above, The Rio Verde of Otívar offers wonderful mountain activities. One can go trekking, rafting, rock climbing, caving, and mountain climbing here.
On the coast there are a million things to do – scuba, cavern and technical diving, horse riding and tennis, paragliding, climbing, and abseiling. In summer the water on this coast is very clear, with a visibility of up to 25m (80ft), and teeming with fish.