Guide: the best beaches in Spain

Jun 05 2014

Guide: the best beaches in Spain

If you were to ask someone to name something good about Spain, you could almost bet your mortgage on “the beaches” being one of the most common answers you would get back.

The country is world renowned for its beach quality and culture, and it’s one of the main driving forces behind Spain’s thriving tourism industry and large expat community, who flock to Spain in search of a new lifestyle.

And with the recent uncertainty surrounding the government’s proposed holiday rental licences, it’s hoped that the lure of Spain’s natural beauty will continue to entice buy-to-let investors to invest in the current bargain Spanish property prices.

Less than two weeks ago, news emerged that Spain sits at the top of the table out of 60 other competing countries in the Blue Flag Programme; the programme which gives coveted awards to outstanding beaches. It means Spain has more Blue Flag beaches than any other competing country in the world.
With beaches in Almeria and the Valencia region being among the latest additions to Spain’s boastful Blue Flag portfolio, it now takes the country’s total number of Blue Flag beaches to 550.

• The Blue Flag certification is operated by the not-for-profit and non-government European Environmental Foundation, with the awards originating in 1987. They are given to beaches (and marinas) which are said to comply with strict standards relating to hygiene, cleanliness and care for the environment. They must contain a good quality of water, are safe and have good amenities for the public.

• Beaches given the award are then regularly checked in order to ensure they remain in compliance with Blue Flag’s strict set of standards. If any beach falls short of these standards, its Blue Flag status is removed.

Listed below is a breakdown of our guide to the top five best beaches in Spain, as well as some interesting facts.

Top Five: Guide to the Best Beaches in Spain

1) Playa de Ses Illetes – Formentera, Balearic Islands
Ses Illetes, as it’s usually shortened to, is on the island of Formentera just south of its better known counterpart, Ibiza. Many would envisage paradise to look like this beach does, with its aqua blue swimming pool-like water colour and exotic shape making it unique and somewhat separating it from your average beach.

2) Playa de las Catedrales – Ribadeo, Galicia
This beach won the 2013 Travellers’ Choice Awards for the best beaches in Spain hosted by TripAdvisor, with its large rocky landscape providing picturesque imagery you won’t get from most beaches in Europe, let alone Spain. The beach itself can be overshadowed – literally – by the enormous rocks forming the landscape of the area, and providing fantastic views from Spain’s north coast of the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Biscay.

3) Playa de Bolonia – Tarifa, Cádiz
Tarifa is located on the southern tip of Spain just miles from Gibraltar, though what this spacious beach offers is a peaceful setting away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists a few miles north east. The beach looks out on to the Strait of Gibraltar and nicely blends the peace and tranquility of a pleasant beach with plenty of greenery generated by the dunes and trees.

4) Playa de Cofete – Morro del Jable, Fuerteventura
This secluded beach is another hidden gem in Spain’s rich portfolio of great beaches, and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean towards the Western Sahara approximately 70 miles away. Hemmed in between the mountains and the ocean, the beach is popular for sunbathers who prefer to relax in peace and is only accessible by dirt roads making your adventure there a rather interesting one.

5) La Concha Beach – Donostia-San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa
Often found near the top of ‘Best Beaches in Spain’ lists, La Concha Beach is shaped like a horseshoe surrounding the southern side of the Bay of La Concha. The beach is located very much in a developed area with tall buildings overlooking the landscape of the beach and bay, and as such it can get busy with tourists during the peak season.

Best Beaches in Spain: Interesting Facts:

• Spain has in excess of 7,000km of coastline
• Overall quality of all the country’s beaches is said to be improving year on year
• Spain’s notable coastal regions are commonly referred to as Costas (e.g. Costa del Sol), of which there are more than 15

Article by David Johns