Is this the best beach on the Costa Del Sol?
If you're prepared to venture away from the main resorts there is a host of hidden gems to uncover
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane, and mainly before you take off from your chosen airport here in the UK.
There's a very, very good reason why the Andalusian coastline has been such a magnet for British tourists for so long. During the summertime this is one of Europe's warmest corners, with many spots boasting well over 300 days of sunshine per year.
The water is clear, the villages in the foothills remarkably unspoilt in comparison with the larger coastal towns such as Benidorm, and you're only a couple of short hours away from home - so there's no jet-lag, or even fatigue once you land.
For the best sunbathing on the Costa Del Sol, though, you have to look a little further from the most famous (and therefore busiest beaches), and to the Los Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo natural area. A protected micro-region that stretches some 1814 hectares, it sits sandwiched by Malaga and Granada, comprising stunning secret coves, beautiful beaches, and dramatic cliffs, fringed by forests and serene foothills.
Driving through this landscape is nothing short of spectacular, and, providing you have decent air con (temperatures round here can easily top 35C during peak season), nothing short of a true pleasure, not least once you pass the town of Nerja.
Due east from here, roughly 13km, you'll reach a sign for El Canuelo, a somewhat unknown but utterly unmissable cove that is just a few minutes from the N-340 highway. As you draw near to the car park and see the small number of parasols and bathers that know about this place one thing becomes immediately clear - this might be the best beach on the Costa Del Sol.
Riding the shuttle bus from the top of the cliff takes just a couple of minutes, and the price is just a couple of Euros per person, with children getting their lift for free. Pulling up at the drop off point you'll see two restaurants - the oldest looking of which is the best (although more expensive than eateries in busier locations), and definitely rates as one of the best seafront meals you'll have in this corner of the world.
Of course the real appeal is the beach itself, which is shingled, rather than sandy (as so many around these parts are), and thanks to its natural geography offers the perfect answer to families in search of a great day out.
The tidal and weather systems are calm as a result of the shelter from the hills, the sea's shelf a gentle rather than steep incline - ideal for younger children - and the water teeming with life, making for wonderful snorkeling. That's if you don't want to simply kick back and relax, of course.
Image (C) Carlos Martin Gaebler