Spain Beaches

Encircled by oceans, seas, straits, gulfs, and countless isolated bays, Spain is the perfect year-round retreat for anyone whose idea of a holiday includes lounging on a beach in Spain with a good book. For nearly 11 months of the year it is possible to visit the beaches in Spain and come away with a healthy tan and a relaxed attitude.

The most popular beaches in Spain are located between Malaga and Gibraltar on Spain's Costa del Sol. Though because they offer relatively easy access via direct flights to Malaga, these beaches are often crowded and the fishing villages that once existed have been replaced by high-rise apartments.

The Costa del Sol is also the best place to find nude, otherwise known as naturist or clothing optional, beaches. The aptly named Costa Natura on the Costa del Sol was the first beach in Spain to be declared officially naturist in 1979. In addition to having one of the best public nude beaches in Spain, the Costa Natura is also a resort with 200 beachside apartments and full, clothing optional amenities. But at beaches in Spain—as in many Mediterranean countries—clothing is really more of a suggestion than a requirement. And while most popular beaches in Spain have unwritten bathing suit rules, the isolated coves and mostly untracked strips of sand that line the coast are unofficial nude beaches in Spain, where the uninhibited can tan, swim, relax and really get in touch with nature.

A more secluded option in the south of Spain is the Costa Calida. The warm coast, as it is known, lies on either side of Cartagena and boasts some of the best sand beaches in Spain. On the Atlantic side of the Andalucian coast, travelers find the beaches west of Huelva a warm respite, and relatively un-crowded except in July and August.

Stretching from the French to Portuguese border, Spain"s northern coast, also known as the Basque coast, offers a welcome contrast to the crowded Costa del Sol. Known for its surfing, ease of access, and some of the cheapest beach villas Spain has to offer. A drive or train ride from San Sebastian to Bilbao reveals many isolated beaches, rocky cliffs and post-card perfect fishing villages to explore. If you are staying close to San Sebastian you can locate some of the cheapest beach villas Spain offers, and rent a surfboard and make day trips to the beaches around Zumaia, Zarauz, or Hondarribia near the French border.

The best sand beaches in Spain are located away from the mainland itself in the Balearic Archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. Although they're known mostly for the nightlife found on Ibiza, the Balearic Islands offer some of the best sand beaches in Spain. Of the four main islands in the archipelago, Minorca and Formentera are less populated and still retain an air of adventure and seclusion. In Minorca, the best option is to rent a jeep and go beach hopping. On the island"s northern coast, look for Arenal d"en Castell, and Arenal de Son Saura, two of the most secluded beaches in Spain. But if you are truly looking for deserted island type beaches, Formentera is the best option. Undeveloped and secluded the Playa de Mitjorn is arguably the most popular beach in Spain for those looking to shed their clothes and cares.

So whatever your holiday, Spain is a beach lovers paradise year round. Just make sure to book your hotel accommodations well in advance for the Costa del Sol, bring your wetsuit for an early morning surf along the northern coast, and pack a sense of adventure—and maybe some water—for a jeep tour of the remote Balearic Island beaches.

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