Anyone considering a summer holiday this year may be put off by the thought of a crowded beach on a Spanish Costa or the over familiarity of resorts packed with British tourists. However, there are areas of Spain that are not over-populated by tourists and offer beaches unspoilt by the masses.
The Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) on the sandy shores of the Atlantic in the South Western corner of Spain promises an alternative to the commercialised Mediterranean resorts. Stretching from Tarifa near Gibraltar to the border of the Algarve, The Costa de la Luz is a particular 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 combination of sandy beaches, friendly locals and great food make Costa de la Luz holidays a wonderful experience and one yet to be exposed on a large 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 can be strolling along a deserted beach, the next you can be exploring the charismatic 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 also boasts an impressive nightlife with its many bars and clubs encouraging a growing reputation as the “new Ibiza” or the “Malibu of Europe “.
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 is Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary, the Coto Donanan National Park, which is home to an unprecedented number of bird species. This corner of Spain is also one of the most historic, ranging from the 2nd century BC Roman site of Baela Claudia, about 9 miles north of Tarifa, hosting numerous temples and a restored theatre carved out of 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 those tired of commercialised Spanish holidays, the Costa de la Luz literally gives an insight into traditional Spain and has an array of attractions to match rival holiday resorts within the other Costas. The only difference is that for now, it is left relatively untouched, also meaning there are chances to find cheaper deals. directline-holidays.co.uk combine an efficient search facility using all the major tour operators with the ease to book online or over the phone to find a perfect Costa de la Luz holiday. Other recommended resorts in the Costa de la Luz include Chipiona which is close to Jerez and popular with discerning locals from Cadiz and Seville. For holidays closer to the Cadiz region, directline-holidays.co.uk offer Nova Sancti Petri holidays, a secluded beach resort with excellent golf and water sports facilities.