Best things to do on Costa Tropical, Spain

A rocky beach next to a cliff emerging from the sea

There are so many things to do on Costa Tropical, from discovering charming towns to sunbathing on secluded beaches, from trails both inland and on the coast to surprising waterfalls and empty riverbanks, from a fantastic cuisine to a microclimate that allows any type of crop to grow here. This is in fact where Costa Tropical got its name from: the amount of tropical fruits that grow here.

Costa Tropical will surprise you through the diversity of things to do and see, and with the friendliness of the locals. Costa Tropical is still undiscovered by the tourist masses, and this is why here you can enjoy the perfect vacation, all year round.

Because of the Sierra Nevada mountains being so close to the Alboran Sea, the temperature on Costa Tropical is always in the high. Did you know that there are over 300 days of sunshine here? Costa Tropical is a perfect off the beaten track destination for a winter holiday! Forget the touristic Costa del Sol and choose to discover the local and authentic Costa Tropical.

 

This is my guide with the best things to do on Costa Tropical!

 

Where is Costa Tropical in Spain?

A night view from the castle over the town of Salobrena and the coast

Located in the South of Spain, in Andalucia, Costa Tropical stretches from the town of La Herradura in the west to the village of La Rabita in the east. It is also called Granada’s Coast because it is so close to the city of Granada.

The nearest airports to Costa Tropical are Malaga Airport and Granada Airport. Both airports are well connected by buses to the main tows on Costa Tropical.

The best way to explore Costa Tropical is by car, to have the freedom of moving around as you wish. My preferred car rental website is Holiday Extras, where you can book a car starting at £2/day.

 

Where to stay on Costa Tropical

Playa Granada Club Resort & Spa

A view of the room with the bed from Playa Granada Club Resort

Located in Motril and facing the sea, Playa Granada Club Resort is a great hotel to stay at when you visit Costa Tropical. From here you can easily drive to all the major attractions and towns along the coast and in the mountains.

The resort is very large, with outdoor and indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, wellness centre, a traditional hammam, beauty salon, kids club, and even a golf course. There is something to do here for every member of the family.

I did enjoy my second-floor room with both a sea and a mountain view. The room was spacious and the bed comfortable, and I loved the fresh fruit platter welcoming me from the table. I spent three nights here and my room was cleaned every day and the bed made. I even found my pyjama nicely folded on the bed.

I really enjoyed watching the sunset over the sea, from the sun beds on the beach front. The outdoor pools looked so inviting as well, but unfortunately it was a little bit cold at the beginning of March to jump in.

A sunset view of the pool from Playa Granada Club Resort, with two palm trees in the background

I had both lunch and breakfast here and the selection was overwhelming. All the food is freshly made on the day and you can see the cooks working in the kitchen as you walk around filling your plate. For breakfast I got to choose from a large continental selection of cold meats and cheeses, pate, eggs cooked in three different ways, sausages, mushrooms, baked tomatoes, and many more. There is a pastries selection which offers among others local delicacies, a fruit basket, a yoghurts & cereal counter and also a corner with lactose free and gluten free products. For lunch, the selection of foods includes fish, beef, pork and vegetarian dishes, with a great choice of desserts.

Check the reviews of Playa Granada Club Resort on Tripadvisor by clicking here, or click here to check the latest rates on Booking.com.

 

Where to Eat: The Best Restaurants on Costa Tropical

La Ventura

A plate with avocado, salmon and salad on top

The moment I stepped into La Ventura restaurant I was amazed by how beautiful decorated it is. Passing through the bar area, I noticed the guitar hanged on one of the walls and the large antique mirror overlooking the main entrance. Stepping through a tiny door I found myself in the heated patio, with a stage on the left hand side and a wall full of old photographs on the opposite side. The blue and white walls reminded me more of a Greek taverna than a Spanish restaurant. However, it couldn’t have been a more traditional local Spanish venue.

A chocolate cake with ice cream in the background

As the clock passed 9:30, the restaurant suddenly became full with locals. Here, for the price of a meal, you get to enjoy a passionate flamenco performance, for free.

The food was very good, and I was impressed by the starter: a “tower” of avocado topped with smoked salmon and salad leaves, served with balsamic vinegar. For the main course I had turkey in a white mushroom sauce and for dessert a moist chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. All was paired with a couple of glasses of red wine.

 

Sunahra Beach Club

A photo of a mushroom croquette with beetroot sauce and microherbs on top

I can only imagine how gorgeous this restaurant will be in summer, once the sun loungers will be laid on the beach and the fresh fruits cocktail bar open.

Sunahra is a gourmet restaurant decorated in a Balinese style where the chef combines the best flavours of the Mediterranean Sea and the climate of Costa Tropical. With beautiful views over the beach and the sea, a menu designed to wake up your senses, and live concerts on Sundays, Sunahra is a one of a kind restaurant in Motril.

Slow cooked pork cheek on a bed of pumpkin puree and two baby potatoes

I was lucky to have lunch at Sunahra Beach Club on a perfect sunny day, with temperatures raising to 25 degrees. As a starter I had chef’s special croquettes, filled with a liquid “explosion” of wild mushrooms and fine herbs, set on a bed of sesame mayo. This type of croquette is meant to be eaten in one bite, as the centre is very soft and melts in your mouth. It was indeed an explosion of flavour, perfectly paired with the gentle nutty taste of sesame.

The second course was fillet of Dorada on a bed of creamy celeriac puree and a sauce of pickled mussels, decorated with purple edible flowers and micro herbs. Delicious!

As a main, the slow cooked pork cheek on a bed of pumpkin puree covered with a beetroot sauce did not disappoint. The meat was tender, crumbling at the touch of the fork.

A plate with a chirimoya flan dessert on it

I tried two of their best desserts: the hazelnuts brownie dunked in chocolate sauce, which was decadent, rich and probably one of the best I’ve ever had, and the innovative chirimoya flan with mango ice cream and kumquats puree, which left me speechless. I had actually tried the chirimoya (also known as the custard apple) for the first time just the day before and I asked myself which planet did I live on until now and why didn’t I tried them before. They are absolutely delicious, and they can be found in any supermarket here in Spain. However, the season just passed so I have to wait until October to have them again. Just to get a picture of how this amazing fruit tastes like, imagine a combination between bananas, coconut, strawberry and mango.

 

El Verdejo Restaurant

Sea food croquettes and some olives in the background

You will find El Verdejo Restaurant on the seafront of Salobrena, on Paseo Maritimo. El Verdejo’s cuisine is a fusion between typical local dishes and modern avant-garde influences. 90% of the menu is based on fresh sea food and fish, from the local waters.

Be aware that the portions are large, but everything is so delicious that it’s hard not to choose a three-course meal. We started our dinner with marinated olives and cazon – which is dog fish kept overnight in a lemony marinade, lightly battered and deep fried.  This was followed by some delicious seafood croquettes and a plate of foie gras with a sweet beetroot twirl and two dips of mango and strawberry jam. The final starter was a platter of very light battered cod accompanied by homemade aioli. Only the starters were like a buffet fit for a king!

Fried fish with lemon and garlic sauce

For the main course I chose the grilled turbot with tempura vegetables, baked potatoes and pimiento del padron – a Spanish favourite!

A glass filled with leche rizada, a milky ice cream topped with cinnamon

Dessert was very decadent, a platter with death by chocolate (a very chocolatey cake covered in liquid chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles on top), a rather delicious blueberry baked cheesecake and fresh mango and pineapple pieces. 4 cakes were more than enough for the 7 of us. To finish, we had leche rizada, which is very hard to describe. Think of a very creamy ice cream, thin enough to be drank through a straw, flavoured with cinnamon, sugar and orange peel.

 

Bodega Cuatro Vientos

Not only that Bodega Cuatro Vientos is an excellent place to go if you want to experience a wine tasting with a view, but it also has an outstanding restaurant.

A platter of Iberian salami next to a glass of red wine

First of all, the location of this restaurant couldn’t be any better, on top of a hill, with views towards the sea and the African continent on one side, and the snowy mountain tops of Sierra Nevada on the other.

The portions here are huge, so keep that in mind when you order. I had a taste of some of their starters and the morcilla stood out for me. When you think of morcilla (practically a blood sausage) and the way it’s made, you would think it’s the same thing as black pudding, but you can’t be more wrong.  Creamy, with a gentle tanginess, a bit sweet with hints of onion and aniseed, a distinctive flavour that has nothing to do with the English black pudding. It was my first time trying morcilla and I was blown away by its taste. Same as everyone else, I thought until now that it was the same as the English breakfast component, so I never bought it.

A plate with sausages and morcilla - a Spanish type of blood sausage

Another treat, paired perfectly with the wine, was the Alpujarra jamon – a local dry cured-ham of the area. The house salad had all the ingredients to make it crunchy, sweet, and sour in the same time: vegetables, fruits, olives, almonds and tuna with balsamic drizzled all over.

At Bodega Cuatro Viento I tried for the first time the revuelto, a Spanish recipe for scrambled eggs mixed with different vegetables. Ours was with green beans and red onions.

For the main course I ordered the sirloin of pork (solomillo de cerdo) and oh my, you should have seen my shock when it arrived, and it was almost bigger than the plate. I don’t think I ever had a bigger steak before. It was served with three delicious sauces: aioli (garlic sauce), ranchero (a red capsicum-based sauce) and black pepper sauce.

A big pork steak with a side of vegetables

For dessert, we shared a selection of their most popular treats: tiramisu, Spanish flan (similar with a crème caramel) and the tarta de galleta casera – which was my favourite, a cake based on chocolate and biscuits which I am going to replicate soon at home.

 

Restaurant Katena

Sardines dusted with paprika and a bowl of olives

I can’t even describe in words how good the food is at Katena Restaurant and how attentive the staff was during my visit. I had the opportunity to sample some of their best dishes, which made my taste buds so happy. I have to start with my favourite dish, which was freshly cooked prawns on a bed of sea salt. The flavour of the prawns was so delicate that I could have eaten the entire platter just by myself.

A plate of cooked shrimp in their shell, on a bed of sea salt

Another highlight of the dinner was the main course, grilled fish with a side of spicy potatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaky when cutting but with a meaty consistency. Delicious!

Other dishes worth mentioning was the pulpo a la brasa – grilled octopus with garlic and olive oil, the house salad – a medley of fresh vegetables, papaya, asparagus, cheese filled piquillo peppers, sardines and purple tomatoes, the steamed mussels in white wine and the anchovies dusted with paprika.

Grilled fish with a side of potatoes dusted with paprika

For dessert, one can not go wrong with the chirimoya flan. Different than the one from Sunhara Beach Club, the flan here comes warm as it is baked in the oven.

 

Restaurant Miba

A view of Salobrena castle and the old town, with the sea in the background

Another gem of a restaurant on Costa Tropical, just outside Salobrena, belongs to Hotel Miba. The location is perfect, a couple of minutes’ drive from the town centre, offering stunning views over the castle and the valley below it. They also have a gorgeous sky bar with a lovely pool on the rooftop.

The food is outstanding, and I was sad to leave before dessert, but I had a bus to catch back to Malaga that afternoon.

We started our lunch with a fresh tomato, avocado and mozzarella salad covered in a light herbs and olive oil dressing, followed by a platter of Iberic salami, jamon serrano and manchego cheese. The platter was a perfect accompaniment for the red wine I was drinking.

A platter of Iberian hams and Manchego cheese

The second starter was a spicy marinated chicken with micro vegetables, covered with a crispy long twirl. The chicken was juicy and tender, full of flavour.

Sliced steak in a sauce, with fries

For the main I chose the marinated presa Iberico, which is a shoulder cut steak of the black Iberian pork. This cut of meat is tender as it is, but when marinated over night in a lightly curried sauce, it transforms into a delightful flavoursome meal. The steak practically melted in my mouth. This is that kind of dish that on the plate looks just ok, but it surprises you with a journey of layers of flavours.

 

What to do on Costa Tropical besides going to the beach

Go hiking

I love hiking and I would never say no to walking on a trail, be it mountain or coastal. Costa Tropical has many stunning hikes, both on the coast and inland, which have different difficulties. I will mention two of the hikes that I have done myself, and my impressions of them.

 

Cerro Gordo

A view towards the blue sea from the top of the cliffs

First of all, Cerro Gordo is a beautiful coastal walk, suitable for everyone, including children. The hike starts on Playa Naturista de Cantarrijan, a beautiful beach, very popular with locals. To reach the beach you have to drive down the hill, on a country road. In summer, to avoid jams, cars are not allowed to go down but there is a minibus that does regular trips and costs 1 euro. On the beach there are two restaurants, both very good. In summer, do remember to book if you want to eat here.

Our guide for this hike was Sophie from Activ8you, a local water sports and hiking company that caters for any type of traveller. They organise hikes, water sports, snorkelling, cooking classes, even flamenco workshops. In June, between the 6th and the 11th, they are organising this fantastic outdoors photography workshop led by a professional Dutch photographer. The workshop includes low light photography in the Nerja cave, underwater photography, action shots through mountain biking and many more. I am gutted that I can’t go because I will be in Trentino for Traverse during that time, but I do hope to join their next event. It sounds so fantastic, especially that everything is included, from the accommodation, meals, to all the activities and the use of professional equipment. By the way, Sophie is adorable, and she knows so much about the landscape of Costa Tropical. I can’t wait to meet her again sometimes soon, to do another hike together.

As I mentioned, the trail starts on the beach and follows the dried riverbed of Cantarrijan river. Then the path turns uphill and after a short 10 minutes climb, you reach the peak from where it’s mostly flat. The views are superb from up there!

3 people standing on top of a fallen tree, over a dry river bed

The hike passes the Caleta tower, one of the almost 100 Moorish watch towers spread along the entire Costa del Sol which were used to lookout for barbary pirates coming from North Africa. Their purpose was to warn the locals to go into hideouts, through smoke during the day and fire during the night.

Continuing, from Caleta tower, the path leads down towards Cala del Canuelo, a secluded beach with crystal clear water, very popular for snorkelling. A great way to finish this hike is by putting on a snorkelling mask and jump in the water. You can either bring your own or contact Sophie, who will wait for you with the equipment, even with a kayak if you want, on the beach.

 

Junta De Los Rios

A green river crossing through a canyon

One of the hidden gems of Costa Tropical inland is the hike to Juna de los rios, a proper natural paradise. Firstly, this hike is not very easy to find, so make sure you save this pin pointed map. There are two options to go to the start of the trail from the main road: either drive on a dusty uneven narrow single gravel track, very scary if you have a fear of heights, or hike down for 90 minutes on a trail. If you decide to drive down, you will need to pay 5 euros per person and another 5 for the vehicle.

From the parking at the bottom of the gorge, it only takes 10 minutes to reach the beautiful natural pools with green water and the spectacular 20 meters high waterfall. Do bring a pair of old trainers with a good grip and a waterproof bag, as you will need to cross the river a few times to reach the waterfall. Also, don’t forget your bathing suit at home. You can easily spend the entire day at Junta de los Rios, which is still a secluded place, so you won’t meet many other people. The stunning landscape is created by the River Verde and River Negro, which meet at Junta de los Rios.

A windy road through mountains

This is a very popular area with adventure sports such as canyoning, rock climbing, swimming through caves or jumping off waterfalls. There are many local companies who offer guided tours for adrenaline junkies, like TUUR Adventure Experts, who are a team of professional mountaineers from Andalucia.

 

Go skiing

Did I confuse you? Ski in the South of Spain? Yes! On Costa Tropical you can ski in the morning and sunbathe by the sea in the afternoon. Because the Sierra Nevada mountains are so close, it only takes an hour to drive from the coast to the ski centre. Between November and April, the mountains are covered with snow and the slopes are very well managed, with have great facilities.

Sierra Nevada Ski Resort is Europe’s most Southern ski resort but at a higher altitude than most of others. Many international ski and snowboard competitions are held here every year.

So, how does skiing in the morning and having tapas for lunch on the beach sounds like?

 

Rent a boat 

A group of people enjoying a speed boat ride on the sea

A wonderful way to explore Costa Tropical and enjoy the stunning view of the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains is by renting a boat. For around 400 euros for 4 hours, a group of six people can rent a speed boat to cruise the waters of the Alboran Sea at their own pace, relaxing in the sun. You can bring your own drinks on the boat (they have coolers to keep them cold) and snacks.

Take a snorkelling mask and jump in the waters of the Cerro Gordo National Park to explore the underwater world.

If you are lucky, dolphins will swim alongside the boat, jumping in an out of the water. They are known for liking to play around small boats.

A view from the water over Marina del Este

A great place to rent a boat from is Marina Del Este, in La Herradura. Here, at the end of the promenade, you will find Nautica Elite, and Jose will be more than welcoming and willing to help you make the perfect choice regarding the boat you want to rent. Nautica Elite is a small business that takes much care of all their customers, so you will know you are in good hands. He can even tell you where dolphins have been spotted that day, so you can head that way.

 

Visit a tropical fruit finca

A chirimoia fruit in the tree

As I mentioned in the introduction of this article, Costa Tropical’s name comes from the amount of exotic fruits that are grown here. Because of a perfect microclimate determined by the proximity of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Alboran Sea, it is possible to grow here anything.

Visiting a tropical fruit finca is a great way of understanding more about this microclimate and also learn about tropical trees and their needs. A finca is a piece of agricultural land, with a plantation and a farm house on it. One of the best local fincas that is opened to visitors, from where you can indulge in some delicious tropical fruit and learn how they grow in Spain, is Finca San Ramon, in La Herradura, which owns 12 hectares of tropical trees plantations.

Rita, the owner of the finca is a bubbly character who can’t wait to share her tropical fruits secrets with you. She actually gave me some great advice on how to combat pests on my mandarin tree which I just bough at the beginning of this month.

A plate with exotic fruits on it

Finca San Ramon is opened for visits from the 15th of September to the 15th of May, the months when most of the trees are ready to harvest. Rita owns everything in her garden, from tall avocado trees to delicate chirimoyas, from kumquats to cherry trees, from passion fruit to dragon fruit trees. Her garden is so pretty, with different trees on each side. Not only that, but the location of her finca couldn’t be dreamier, on a hill with stunning views over the sea.

At the end of the visit Rita prepared a tropical fruit feast, where I tasted the best avocado in my life, which was much better than the ones I ate during my trips to South America. Creamy, a bit sweet, made me wish I owned at least one avocado tree in my garden too. Rita runs an organic tree plantation which ensures that her harvest is always natural and full of flavour, without any nasty chemicals in it.

You can book a visit to Finca San Ramon by sending them a message on their Facebook Page.

 

Stroll around the charming towns

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the little towns and villages on Costa Tropical. They are charming, romantic and maintain their Moorish architecture.

 

Sexi (Almuñécar)

A fountain at the end of an alley, decorated with plants and flowers

How cool is this town’s name, Sexi? When the Romans conquered the town, they translated the Pheonician name of “Sks” into Sexi. Whilst today the town has changed its Roman name from Sexi to Almuñécar (which has Arabic origins), the locals are still called sexitanos. During the years the town has passed through many different cultures, but the locals have always kept the name.

Castillo de San Miguel stands tall above the town, built on the fortifications of a fortress dating back to the 1st century. It used to have 40 towers and 3 gates.

The entrance to the castle in Almunecar

The old town of Almuñécar is very picturesque, with cute cafes in lovely squares, a boutique hotel in a historic building and many independent shops.

The ruins of an old fish salting factory, overlooking the castle in the background

A very interesting site to visit in Almuñécar is the old fish salting factory build by the Phoenicians and developed successfully by the Romans. One of the most popular products made here was Garum, a fermented fish sauce used in the Roman, Greek and Byzantium cuisines. A little bit like what we know as Asian fish sauce these days. I can’t even imagine how it used to smell around the fish salting factory. It is an interesting visit though, especially that it is free of charge.

 

Salobreña

Sunset over the castle in Salobrena, with a view of mist raising from the mountains

6000 years ago, on a once upon a time a narrow peninsula going deep into the sea, the first foundation of Salobreña was laid down. Years passed by, with river Guadalfeo, which drains into the sea, filling the bay, creating the landscape we see today.

A tree with pink flowers taking over the facade of a house in Salobrena

Back in the medieval times Salobreña, with its imposing castle on the rocks, looked fearful and hard to conquer. Today, the old town of Salobreña couldn’t be more charming. As the whitewashed buildings follow the narrow cobbled streets uphill, towards the castle, I couldn’t stop every 2 minutes to photograph a wall full of flowers, or someone’s door painted in blue, or pink, or yellow, with colourful pots hanging from their windows.

Steps leading to the castle of Salobrena

The best views in Salobreña are from the castle. The sunset seen from up here is something special. Walking around the Albaycín (the old tow), you will stumble upon cute little bars with beautiful views over the valley. The Mirador square is a wonderful place to admire the view together with your loved one.

 

See a Roman aqueduct

A roman aqueduct

One of the secrets of Almuñécar is the Roman Aqueduct that you can visit… for free! Tucked away on a side street, just outside the city centre (click here for the exact location), stands a perfectly maintained Roman Aqueduct, dating from the 1st century! The structure measured 72 meters and has 2 levels with 9 arches.

As you approach from the main road you will see a fenced area with a gate, which you can easily open to get in. It’s not trespassing, as just a few meters down you will notice a children’s playground, used by the locals. As you look right, you will see the aqueduct in all its splendour. You can walk through it and observe it from all sides and angles. It is pretty spectacular, especially taking in consideration its age and that the stones you see are the same ones the romans were touching 20 centuries ago.

 

Visit interesting museums

The archaeological museum in Almuñécar

an Egyptian amphora which dates back to around 1500BC in Almunecar's Archaeological Museum

The archaeological museum from Almuñécar is also knows under the name of “The cave of the six palaces”. Whilst technically not in a cave but in a former section of the former Roman Palace of Sexi, the Roman name of Almuñécar.

The entrance to the museum is only 2.35 euros for adults and 1.60 euros for children and seniors. The museum is open every day from 10:30AM to 1:30PM and 4PM to 6 PM, and on Sundays from 10:30AM to 2PM.

Inside the museum you will find a collection of all the archaeological finds around Almuñécar, which tell the story of how the city evolved through time. There are statues, figurines, wine and olive oil containers, even pieces of jewellery. The most important piece of the collection is an Egyptian amphora which dates back to around 1500BC, when Pharaoh Apofis I was leading the country. Because of the hieroglips on the amphora, it makes it the oldest written document found in the Iberian Peninsula. How did the amphora get to Sexi? Probably through one of the trade routes between the African, Egyptian and Carthaginian cultures.

The archaeological museum of Almunecar

Even if the museum is not very big, you can spend hours here looking at each artefact, imagining what kind of story could have had and what was their purpose. For example, I was fascinated by a pair of earrings that barely made it through the passing of time. Crooked, almost broken, they made me thing of the woman who wore than, probably around 2000 years ago! Another intriguing object was the statue of a person holding what looks like a Chinese paper fan in its hand.

Unfortunately nobody knows the story of most of these artefacts and its let to our creativity to imagine it.

 

Visit the Preindustrial Museum of Sugarcane in Motril

A reproduction of a sugar press inside the Sugar Museum of Motril

You probably didn’t know, but Costa Tropical used to be one of Spain’s biggest sugar cane producers. Starting from the 9th century, the sugar canes have been exported from Papua New Guinea to Al-Adalus (the South of Spain which today we know as Andalucia) by the Arabs, who set up large plantations and build pre-industrial sugar mills. Back then, sugar was considered a spice.

Motril used to be a prolific economical agricultural area because of the sugarcane, with fields filled with the yellow crops as far as one could see.

One of the best places to learn about the history of the sugarcane in the area and how important it has been for the local community, is the Preindustrial Museum of Sugarcane located at Palma Sugar Refinery, in Motril. The museum has been built on the foundations of a sugar factory dating all the way from the 16th century. It has been built around the archaeological excavation and, whilst you can still see the ruins of the old walls, you can also experience how the machineries used to look like and function. Stepping into this museum is like going back in time. Life-size mannequins and large-scale machine reproductions are bringing this museum to life. You can hear, see, and even smell the medieval times. In the middle of the hall, an over 10 meters long heavy press depicts how dangerous it used to be to make sugar during those times. In another corner there is another press through which the sugarcanes would be passed, several times, until there was no more juice left. Everything was done by hand, and many people got injured and even died in this process, when their arms would accidently get dragged into the moving wheels of the press.

The visit to the Sugarcane Museum takes about an hour, and it consists of a guided tour in which you will learn everything about how the sugarcane was transformed into pure sugar in the medieval times.  The entrance fee is only 3 euros and the museum is opened Tuesday to Saturday between 10AM – 2PM and 4PM – 7PM, and on Sundays from 10AM to 2PM. On Mondays the museum is closed.

The Preindustrial Sugarcane Museum is a fascinating experience that takes you back in time through interactive props and the exceptional guide. Honestly, it is one of the best museums I have visited recently.

 

Attend a flamenco performance in Almuñécar

A woman dancing flamenco on the stage of a restaurant

Flamenco was born in Andalucia and here is where you will find the most authentic and passionate performances. Flamenco is not a dance but an artistic way of transmitting emotion through body movements, verses and guitar tunes. Flamenco is fiery, with sudden body movements, expressive use of arms, feet stamping on the wooden floor. It has emotion that you can feel from the first sound of the player’s fingers on the guitar’s cords.

Can you believe that I have been living in Spain for a year and haven’t been to a flamenco show until my visit to Costa Tropical? Sure, I have seen the impromptu 5-10 minutes shows in Granada, at Mirador San Nicolas, where very talented teenagers would start dancing in their jeans and t-shirts, but that didn’t compare at all with a proper performance.

One of the places where you can experience an outstanding flamenco performance is La Ventura, in Almuñécar. Every Thursday and Sunday, La Ventura organises live flamenco shows. For only 26,50 euros per person, you can enjoy a 3-course meal with 2 drinks included whilst being mesmerized by the flamenco performance.

 

Visit the Cuatro Vientos Vineyard, Museum and enjoy a local wine tasting

The courtyard of the winery, decorated with blue flower pots

Even if Rioja and Ribera del Duero are some of the most known Spanish wine regions, Costa Tropical produces some really good wine too. In fact, the wines produced here are just one step below the DOC on the wine quality ladder. Finca Cuatro Vientos has a privileged location, on a hill top between the mountains and the sea, near the village of Murtas. They produce the so called “Wines of Granada”, which have received many awards.

View over the vineyard, with the Sierrna Nevada mountains in the background. The peak of the mountains have snow on them

Finca Cuatro Vientos (which translates at “The four winds”) has its vineyards spread on over 30 hectares on the South slopes of the Contraviesa mountain range, at an altitude of 1,100 meters. Because of the climate and the many hours of sun the vineyard receives each day, the grapes ripe resulting in a better-quality wine.

Inside the cellars of the winery

The Wine Cellar is spectacular. Not only that it looks like a museum (which actually it also is), but it offers visitors the chance to store the wine they buy there and then return whenever they want to enjoy it in one of the enclosed areas of the cellar. To say that the cellar is big would be an understatement. It is massive, decorated in the most original traditional way.

Out of all the wines I have tasted, Josefina stood out for me. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, this wine tasted very peculiar and intriguing. It was sweet at the first sip but dry in the after taste. I have never tried anything like it before.

 

Taste Rum at Bodega Ron Montero

The entrance to the bodega, with a chandelier and a painting of the logo of the rum distilery on the wall

Bodega Ron Montero is a family run distillery founded in 1963 by Francisco Montero, a passionate man who wanted to create the perfect rum. He came from a family of sugarcane distillers and after a trip to Cadiz in his youth, he returned to Motril to develop his secret formula which later became Ron Montero. At the 50th anniversary of the distillery, a special rum dedicated to “Tio Paco”, as Francisco Montero is known to his employees and the local community, was created. Even if he stepped down from the management of Ron Montero, the distillery is still family run by one of his nephews who promised to keep the recipe of the rum and the way it’s made, the same.

A bottle of Rom Montero with two glasses filled with rum, ready for degustation

As you step into the bodega, you notice the barrels of rum layered on four different levels, one on top of the other. One of the things that makes Ron Montero so special is that every bottle has a little bit of that first batch of rum, created back in 1963. This is because the lower barrels, the ones where the rom is kept until it’s aged and ready to go in the bottle, are never emptied. Only half of the liquid is taken out, and the other half mixed with newer rom, waiting to be aged.

At the Bodega Ron Montero you can taste all of the three rums that they make: plata (a white rum great for cocktails), palido (a perfect rum to be drank mixed with coke) and reserva (the high quality aged rom made to be enjoyed on its own).

You can visit the Bodega Ron Montero for free, from Tuesday to Saturday at 1PM (for the English tour).

 

Play golf on Costa Tropical

The entrance to the golf club

Golf lovers need to know that there are 3 golf courses on Costa Tropical, one on the sea front and two inland, where they can practice their favourite sport.

Located on the beachfront on Motril, Los Moriscos is a golf club with 18 holes, a driving range and a clubhouse. Golfers who choose to play here can enjoy not only stunning views over the sea and the snowy mountain tops, but also high-quality greens and excellent facilities. The course is flat, so it is easy walkable. However, there are buggies and trollies available to rent. One green fee here costs 45 euros, or 95 euros for 2 + a buggy.

The other two golf courses, Granada Golf Club and Santa Clara Golf Club are inland, just outside the city of Granada. Both of them have spectacular views over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

 

Visit La Charca de Suárez bird reserve

The timetable of the bird's reserve

Motril is the home to the wetland reserve of La Charca de Suárez, which can be visited in a tour, for free. Be aware that the schedule changes during the breeding season. Unfortunately I missed the tour and didn’t get a chance to see the birds, but if you are interested in birdwatching, this is the place to go to.

The reserve is very serene, with over 160 species of birds. You can spot here different types of ducks, flamingos, cormorants, Eurasian spoonbills, coots, mallards, white wagtails, grebes and others.

You can see the opening hours in the photo above.

 

Discover stunning gardens on Costa Tropical

Costa Tropical has an actual Gardens route which you can take to visit 5 stunning gardens, all different from each other.

 

Kitty Harri’s Sculpture Garden  

A table and two benches overlooking the valley, with a view of the sea in the right corner

Kitty Harri’s Sculpture Garden offers an Alternative Art Environment and Experience in an idyllic location, in the hills of Costa Tropical. Open every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, Kitty’s garden spreads on two acres and is the home of over 160 pieces of art created by Kitty herself and other invited artists from all over the world. With views over the mountain range Almijara and Cazulas on one side and the beautiful Mediterranean Sea on the other, Kitty Harri’s garden is the perfect place to relax on a Sunday afternoon in the company of good baroque classical music played at the harpsichord by her husband Nick and his band, The Chamber Players.

A statue of a person in a row of other persons

Strolling around the terraced garden and discovering the sculptures, art installations and mosaics whilst listening to the music is a pleasure. You can borrow a catalogue at the pool bar to learn more about each sculpture and what it represents.

The entrance fee for Kitty Harri’s Sculpture Garden is 10 euros.

 

Jardin Nazari

A waterfall

Jardin Nazari is an oasis of calmness and relaxation, created in 1573, today one of the most important Islamic gardens in Spain. Also called “The little Generalife” (the garden inside the Alhambra, in Granada), Jardin Nazari is built on vertical levels, each one serving a different purpose. It is one of the few Nazarian gardens left in Andalucia and its special because of the way it was designed to provide visitors with the five most important benefits in life: spiritual, aesthetic, psychological, nutritional and scientific.

The first thing you notice when you enter Jardin Nazari are the tall trees, which are believed to act like a connection between the earth and the sky – heaven. Water, one of the main vital elements of life, flows through different parts of the garden, in different ways.

Many plants grow in the Jardin Nazari, from flowers, to spices, to fruits and vegetables.

Following a path down the cliffs you will find limestone caves, dark, with water dripping from the ceiling, where you can admire an array of stalagmites and stalactites.

A tall cave with a small opening and a view towards trees and vegetation

Jardin Nazari is a place for all senses, that encourages meditation. Here you will enjoy the beauty of flowers, the aromas of the blooms, the singing of birds and the flow of water.

The Jardin Nazari can be visited from Wednesday to Saturday between 11:00AM – 1:00PM and 5:00PM to 7:00PM, and on Sundays from 11:00AM until 1:00PM. The entrance fee is 3 euros.

 

Watch sunsets

The sunset seen from one of the windows of Salobrena castle

At the end of the day, just take a moment to yourself, stop somewhere with a view and watch the sun go down. Every night I spent on Costa Tropical, the sun decided to put on a show and paint the sky with beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red.

A kayaker returning back to shore, at sunset.

Whilst usually we are too busy to notice the sunset, at least when we are on holiday we can just stop from whatever we are doing and just look towards the sea.

 

Have you been to Costa Tropical yet? Do you want to go after reading my experience there? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Disclaimer: Please note that I have visited Costa Tropical in a press trip and I have experienced all the activities I wrote about in this post complimentary. However, all the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.

Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

45 Comments

  1. YES PLEASE. I also thought I would be more into French speaking areas of the world, but lately I am so much more into Spanish speaking area.

  2. My husband has asked me several times where I would like to travel to next and I always say SPAIN! He asks me why and I say – SPANISH OCTOPUS. HAHAHAHHAHA! My priorities are… Interesting, and DAMN TASTY LOL!

  3. I have always wanted to go to Spain and I have heard how beautiful it is. Looks really nice to have a vacation there.

  4. I am in awe of these photos! I NEED to get to Spain. Now. Your food photos always make me hungry as well.

    I think my favorite thing to do would be relaxing by the water and checking out the sunset.

  5. All things I would like to do as they reflect my idea of ​​vacation and relax! I visit Spain and i want always back!

  6. I’ve never been to Spain before, but it’s been on my bucketlist for a long while. I fell in love with all these descriptions and photos, as they are a great source of inspiration when it comes to summer trips. 🙂

  7. You are killing me! The pool, the scenery, the food… I am ready to hop on a plane right this minute! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  8. great shots you got here, it makes me want to be on holiday now! always love to visit spain maybe next year!

  9. I have heard lot about this place from my friend. It’s beautiful and your photos are nice too. I am planning to go there in the future.

  10. Goodness gracious! Isn’t Costa Tropical just so beautiful? I absoluetly love the whole place, the hiking, the charmind beautiful towns especially Sexi, the food, the boat trip! Oh my! I would have to spend over week to explore all these if I came to Costa Tropical!

  11. oh my god, I am speechless, so beautiful <3 I can't wait to go to Spain 🙂 the food and the landscape (tooooooo Precious)

  12. I adore Spain and can’t wait to go back. If I make it to Costa Tropical, this will be a great list to refer to!

  13. The spa does look pretty amazing. I would love to stay there. And La Ventura has my mouth watering. It looks like a great place to visit all around.

  14. I have been in this part of Spain and I love it, it is warm, true and exciting … here you can breathe the most authentic and true Spain!

  15. Such a well-documented post and the photos are amazing! We’ve been to Spain a few years ago but didn’t get to Costa Tropical, and with this post, it’s clear to me that we HAVE to go to Spain again for a holiday! Thanks for all your recommendations, and I am sure we will rent a car – we only rented one for a holiday in France but it gave us a lot of freedom to explore so we decided to do so more often on holidays, so thanks for the tip regarding car rentals as well!

  16. I have stayed in Spain for 2 years and I really loved my stay. Explored a lot so I can understand the beauty of the place. Really informative post and good food options mentioned.

  17. This was such a thorough guide! I truly appreciate the effort that you put into making sure you left nothing out, and now I feel like I must visit Spain! Your photos are stunning as well

  18. Wonderful..Glad you shared this amazing list. I am a travel bug and looking forward to experiencing Spain later this year this list will help me out.

  19. You leave nothing out in your post! Very detailed and the photos are well taken. I would love to go there and take in the views and the foods!

  20. Wow, this was full of surprises. I never considered this area, but it honestly sounds like the perfect place for me and my family. It’s so beautiful, and the skiing and hiking sounds like a dream. I will definitely find some time to visit now.

  21. I used to live in Cadiz! Southern Spain. I honestly can’t beleive I never visited Costa Tropical! How could I be in South of Spain, in Andalucia and not go here?! It looks beautiful.

  22. What an amazing selection of things to do. I always love when a place has so many different but delicious places to eat at and a variety of interesting and unique things to do.

  23. First, the food is pretty amazing. From your post, you have introduced me so many delicious and must eat food in Spain. I was in Spain a few months ago and fall in love with this country. It was a rush trip for group tour so I intend to do another free and easy Spain tour and explore like a local in the future. Renting a boat sounds great and hope to visit in summer this time.

  24. I live on the other side of the world and never travelled out of my country ever! Your post made me thought about travelling one day soon.

  25. Never been to this place but that place looks very vibrant to relax and unwind. Looks like you had a great time there!

  26. This looks like it would be such a beautiful trip. I have always had Spain on my travel bucket list. Now it definitely is there to stay!

  27. I’ve never been to Costa Tropical before but after reading your post, it is now a future MUST visit location! Such a gorgeous place with delicious looking food and such a variety of fun activities to do – seems like the perfect getaway vacation!

  28. Wow this is amazing I didnt realize Spain had a tropical aspect to it! The food looks so good and tasty and plated pretty too!

  29. Wow, this is so awesome, the pictures are so amazing. I would really love to visit the museum. And the foods are just so tempting.

  30. I have yet to make it to spain, and madrid airport for a few hours doesnt count! lol…this area looks so beautiful and so much to do, and eat! adding to my spain itinerary for sure.

  31. Spain has been on the top of my list for a long time and your pictures are making me want to go even more! Such a beautiful place it seems.

  32. A well-documented trip. I love the details. I can’t wait to visit the place and try that good food. Thank you for sharing this.

  33. The photos are so great! Even though I already tried different cuisines, your photos of Costa Tropical makes me want to crave for more.

  34. What a very detailed post about your trip. Love the pictures of the food and I enjoy watching the sunsets too, very peaceful and romantic.

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