The beaches in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Almería are found in an incomparable protected setting that makes them truly special. Many might lack basic amenities, and some are hard to get to, but all are surrounded by an extraordinary landscape that resembles something from another planet. The crystal clear waters and fine sandy beaches will delight all who visit the area. Here are the 10 best beaches in Cabo de Gata.

    1

    Mónsul beach

    The park's most famous bay, surrounded by a peculiar desert landscape

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    It's easy to reach Mónsul beach from San José and the car park is fairly close by. At this fine sandy beach you can relax and swim surrounded by nature. On the way to the beach you may well see some of the animals that inhabit the area, such as foxes and lizards.

    The rock that dominates the bay is known as 'la peineta de Mónsul' or 'Mónsul's comb' due to its form, and is one of the best-known sights from Almería's beaches. A couple of tips: take food and drink with you as there are no services here. Also, have a Plan B up your sleeve in case the wind picks up, as you will need an alternative.

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    2

    Genoveses beach

    A family-friendly beach very near San José

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    Genoveses beach is the first beach you will come to on leaving San José (the next two are Mónsul and Media Luna bay). This is the perfect spot if you are looking for an easily accessible family-friendly beach (it is the best in this regard, along with Playazo de Rodalquilar), although, logically enough, it is busier than other beaches that are farther away.

    That said, the chances that you will be packed in like sardines are very low, as it is very big and there is plenty of space for everybody. The sand is very fine and the water warm and shallow, making it an ideal place to take children. You should be aware that the car park charges in the summer months (from June to September).

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    3

    Cala del Plomo bay

    Enjoy a day's snorkelling in shallow waters

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    Cala del Plomo bay is one of the area's most special and beautiful. To reach it, you have to drive 7 kilometres along a dirt road, but it's well worth it. This is a great bay for swimming – the water is the ideal temperature, it is well sheltered from the wind, it has a sandy part and another pebbled area and you have to go quite a long way into the water to get out of your depth.

    Wear comfortable footwear and take food and drink if you're planning on spending the day here, as well as goggles or a mask for diving – you won't want to miss the vast number of colourful fish that swim close to the rocks.

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    4

    Cala Rajá bay

    A beach with views of the Dedo reef

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    One of the major attractions of Cala Rajá is that it is well protected from winds off the sea from the east. It also has great views of the Dedo reef (it's easy to spot – its name means 'finger' in Spanish) near the famous Sirenas reef and the Cabo de Gata lighthouse.

    Access is a bit tricky – you can park relatively near, but you have to go down 20 metres over about 150 metres. It's recommended that you wear appropriate footwear and take water and food with you. On your return, stop at the lighthouse lookout point and enjoy the most famous view in the area.

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    5

    Fabriquilla beach

    A spot well-sheltered from the wind

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    Fabriquilla beach is alongside the Cabo de Gata lighthouse and although it is not well-known for either its beauty or services, it nevertheless offers a great benefit, which is that it is well-protected from the wind, making it one of the few beaches you can visit when the Levant blows from the east.

    It is also a very wide beach with fine white sand and warm, crystal-clear water. Once you are inside the Cabo de Gata Natural Park it is easy to access, as it is well-linked to the car park. If you are travelling with children it will be one of your favourite choices, although, as is often the case, it can get quite busy.

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    photo by Benreis (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Playazo de Rodalquilar beach

    One of the most family-friendly and easily accessible beaches in the park

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    Playazo de Rodalquilar beach is the beach nearest to the charming little village of Rodalquilar. If you are looking for maximum comfort, this is your place. The access road is well-paved and there is a large, free car park.

    This beach is popular with naturists, although they tend to go to the left-hand side only. After sunbathing and swimming, visit the ruins of the San Ramón castle to the right of the beach, built on a sand dune with fine views of the beach and the cliffs at La Molata. This is a really nice beach with easy access where you can enjoy a lovely swim at any time of day.

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    7

    Los Muertos beach

    An idyllic beach with smooth pebbles and crystal-clear waters

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    The gorgeous Los Muertos beach is one of the most beautiful in the park (don't miss out on it simply because it has smooth pebbles instead of fine sand), although access is a bit complicated. To reach it you have to descend a slope for about 20 minutes (of course, the worst part may be returning at the end of the day).

    Its main advantage: having the clearest, cleanest water in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. Underwater you will see multi-coloured fish, so don't forget your goggles and fins. We recommend you go early in the morning and walk for a while until you get to the end of the beach, heading left before you put your towel down. Don't forget to wear comfortable footwear and take food and drink. There is a charge for parking in the summer months.

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    photo by isol (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    San Pedro bay

    A lovely walk that takes you to a gorgeous bay

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    You'll find 2 options to get to remote San Pedro bay: either hire a small boat from the village of Las Negras or park the car and walk downhill for 45 minutes. Although it might require more effort, the walk down is rewarded with incredible views, which is why it is the one we recommend.

    Although it is one of the most difficult to reach bays, it is nevertheless one of the most popular, with a beach bar run by a community of people who live here year-round. Don't leave without visiting the ruins of San Pedro castle, where you can take a fantastic photo of the bay with its fine white sand and turquoise waters from the perfect point.

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    photo by Damián López Martín-Prieto (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    9

    Las Negras

    A town beach with all the services

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    The beach in Las Negras is in one of the liveliest, most popular villages in the area, especially in high season. Its great advantage, apart from the ambiance, is that you can choose from a number of bars and restaurants and have a fantastic paella, dish of fresh fish or tapas, before or after the beach.

    The Cabo de Gata Natural Park has many great spots to explore. In Las Negras, you will find a unique, unspoiled landscape that will captivate you so much that you'll want to return each year to find a new part of it!

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    10

    Cala del Príncipe bay

    Total disconnection behind a jagged rocky outcrop

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    Cala del Príncipe bay is really hidden away, so much so that there's no mobile phone coverage here. However, this has its advantages. At most, you will only ever find 2 or 3 other people here enjoying the crystal-clear waters and the fine sand, even in the high season. This is because it's hard to get to.

    To reach the bay, you will need to park your car at the Genoveses beach and walk to its easternmost point. When you reach the steep outcrop of rock at the end, you will need to climb it and follow a path that first takes you to Chica beach and then to Príncipe bay. We recommend you follow your GPS instructions and wear appropriate footwear. Some parts of the descent are rather complicated.

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    Ana Garcia Mellado | Contributing Writer

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