Cabo De Gata Natural Park

The beautiful Cabo de Gata Natural Park is only about an hours drive from Vera Playa and it has two sides to it; the eastern side which includes the villages of Las Negras, Rodalquilar and San Jose and the western side which is around Cabo de Gata village.Each side is quite different as the east has the mountains and beaches with the fantastic volcanic rocks and outcrops and the western side is flatter with the long straight beaches each side of Cabo de Gata village with the salinas or lagoons behind.These salinas are home to many bird species including Pink Flamingos.Starting in the east at Las Negras, which is a small village with apartments and rooms to rent. The traditional windmill at the entrance has now been fully restored to its original condition. There are walks to the east towards the “hippy” commune at Cala San Pedro. There is a coastal path west from Las Negras camp site leading to Playazo Beach. This path starts with quite a steep uphill section and in places is narrow with steep drops.Driving west there is a concrete road leading to Playazo Beach just before Rodalquilar village. Playazo is a lovely beach at the end of a valley which has Castillo de Rodalquilar part way down and a Castillo de San Ramón actually on the eastern edge of the beach. The valley has easy level walks through palm groves. In summer up to 90% of people, Spanish and tourists can be using the beach naturist.More adventurous walkers can start from here to walk up to the communications installation and tower at Faro de Los Lobos by going over the “saddle” at the western side of the beach. This track is narrow and rough until it joins a tarmac road leading to the top. Vehicles are not permitted to drive to the tower. The road is gated about half way up.
Rodalquilar village has a new centre to it and is the headquarters of the Park. It has offices and an information centre that explains the volcanic history of the area and has a very detailed model of the mineral mining, including gold mining, which is the reason for the existence of the village. The old miners’ village is in ruins by the side of the modern houses. Behind the village is the remains of the mine workings; huge buildings with large concrete settlement tanks below.The mountain behind Rodalquilar is honeycombed with tunnels and workings which closed in the 1960’s.Isleta del Moro is a small pretty white fishing village with a large headland. There is a small supermarket here and restaurants. Scuba Diving is available from here as well as from San José just along the coast.San José is the largest town in this area and has quite a large harbour with many restaurants and bars.Several supermarkets are on the main street. There is an information centre here with maps of the area and articles from the local area for sale.
From San José there is a track (normally in good condition) leading westwards along the coast towards Cabo de Gata village. In the height of summer vehicles are not allowed down the track and a bus service is put in place.This track leads to Genoveses, Barronal, Monsul and Media Luna beaches. Genoveses is the first beach you come to, there is a large car park with a walk to the beach through a habitat with many birds.The beach is divided into two by a natural outcrop of rock about 4 metres high, it is easily walked over. Naturists tend to use the beach west of this outcrop. Behind the beach are easy walks through the unspoilt countryside. For the more adventurous walkers there are paths to small coves over the coastal hills. Walking boots are advisable as the paths can be rough and rocky. If planning a longer walk, don?t forget to carry water with you.Continuing west along the track the next beach is Barronal. There is no parking on the actual track but when you find it widens and permits parking, there is a path through the dunes leading to the beach. It’s a lovely beach and is normally 100% naturist.Just over the huge sand dune is the car park for Monsul Beach. This is a very large picturesque beach with its fantastic rock shapes formed by its volcanic history. It is another beach that has two parts, during the summer season naturists use the whole beach but away from the main season if you go round to the right hand side of the beach, that’s where you’ll find other naturists.
Only 500 metres further on is another car park with Media Luna Beach. This is a smaller and quieter beach.Just after Media Luna the track starts to go uphill and has some gates which mark the end of the drivable section. Through the gate it is a good walk with views along the coast to the tower and communications masts at Vela Blanca before it goes downhill to the Cabo de Gata Lighthouse (faro).The vehicle access to the lighthouse is via Cabo de Gata village, so from San José you take the road out towards the motorway and then at a large roundabout with boat sculptures on it, turn left to go past the Centro Michelin Experimental test tracks to Ruescas and turn left again, signposted Cabo de Gata.Just before the village there is a car park with a bird hide looking out over the salinas (lagoon).This is the first chance to look for the flamingos. Cabo village has several supermarkets, although not as well stocked as San Jose’s.There is also a pharmacy and butchers. Saturday is market day in the morning with clothing, shoes and very good fruit and vegetables. If you walk onto the seafront and turn right the Bar Mediterraneo serves huge tapas with each round of drinks.From Cabo follow the coast road past the abandoned church to Almadraba de Montelva Village. The salinas are still being worked and you can see the mounds of salt on the left hand side. Just a little further on at Fabriquilla the road leaves the beach to go up and round to the Cabo de Gata Lighthouse. There is an excellent beach all the way from Cabo village; it’s long and straight, very different to the beaches reached from San JoséOur personal view is that the beaches of Genoveses, Monsul and Barronal are some of the best we’ve found in ten years of travelling round Europe.Graham and Lesley