The Costa Tropical, not as well-known as the Costa del Sol to the West, is also less crowded and just as idyllic. It’s in Granada Province, and much closer to sights like the Alhambra than many places along the Costa del Sol. Here, the mountains run down to the sea, turning the coastline into harshly beautiful promontories and coves, often with sunlit beaches at the bottoms. La Herradura is a lovely unspoiled beach between the promontories Punta de la Mona and Cerro Gordo. Not far away is the Marina Del Esta, a yacht harbor, and all along the coast you’ll see water sports, scuba diving, and other pastimes that take advantage of the clear water and the wide variety of sea life here.
Most outstanding of the Costa Tropical is the pueblo blanco Salobrena, where you’ll find the modern beach and the historic Moorish castle. The town of Almunecar is also nearby, and eastward is the Costa de Almeria. Along the beach you’ll also find ancient watchtowers, mute witnesses to a time when the Costa Tropical was a turbulent and dangerous place to live.
This whitewashed village stands out against the darker rock it’s built on. The Moorish castle resting above it and sugar cane plantations all around it turn it into one of the more picturesque of the towns on the Costa del Sol. Because of its location near the Sierra Nevada, you can actually stay here, go snow skiing in the morning, and then go sunbathing and waterskiing in the evening! Or you can go snorkeling near the artificial reef built near the huge rock of Penon.
6000 years of human history have passed through the location that’s now Salobrena, including Celtiberians, Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Moors, and Christians, and all have left their traces. The Moorish castle dates to the tenth century, the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario built on the site of a mosque in the 16th century.
Hike to the top of the town to gain a panoramic view of the Sierra del Chaparral, the orchards of subtropical fruit trees, the sugar canes. Or stroll the flower-filled paseos and observe this historical town yourself. A museum in the old Town Hall is very informative.
Lower, near the beach, you’ll find bars and restaurants catering to locals and beachgoers alike. At the Parque de la Fuente you’ll find refreshing shade and a fountain before you get to the the beach. Concerts, plays, and films are available all year, and the castle hosts outdoor theater in the summer.
A perfect day trip from here is to the Alhambra palace, only a forty-minute drive. Or you can drive to the Sierra Nevada or the Alpujarra Mountains.
Where To Stay
The Hotel Salobrena is just outside town, but has a garden, pool, and solarium, and it’s on the cliff edge, giving it a panoramic view. The Hotel Salambia is similar, but a bit higher up. For travelers on a budget, there are hostales in Salobrena including the Hostal Mari Tere and the Hostal Miramar. If you’re traveling alone or in a small group, you can also find four pensiones.