Earlier this week, on the recommendation of a rather cute waiter at the local pizza restaurant, we visited one of the Costa Tropical’s most beautiful beaches. The two sheltered bays of Playa Cantarriján are situated west of Almuñécar, in the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Park, just on the Granada-Malaga border. It was a bit of a mission to get to, hence its popularity with nudists I imagine, but the effort was well worth it.
It would seem that he who dares, wins.
Images of Playa Cantarriján | GranadaSpain
We went wrong a couple of times and I ended up directing my Dad (visiting from the UK), driving a Volvo Estate, down a steep, unmade track which came to a dead end. I have been down similar tracks before, that have led to a beach, so I wasn’t phased, until we ended up in someone’s fruit orchard. We didn’t give up though.
Before I go any further it is important to note that the beach is only accessible by car from September until June. In the peak months of July and August the track is open only to a regular shuttle bus service which ferries people up and down from the car park to the beach all day.
As with so many of Granada’s best beaches this is a hidden gem. Check out the location map at the bottom of this post.
If, like us, you are approaching from the East (Granada, Salobreña, Almuñécar) you take the N-340 coastal road past La Herradura (or turn off the A-7 E-15 motorway at La Herradura) and follow signs for Nerja/Málaga.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Cerro Gordo Tunnel and take it slow as you need to turn off very soon after you come out the other side. Ignore the first turning on the left but turn off at the dusty parking area where you see the Costa Tropical Mural (see image top left in the collage opposite). Unfortunately the rather battered sign for Playa Cantarriján is only visible if you are approaching from the other direction.
Once off the road you will see the bus stop and the sign indicating the track to the beach which winds down through a beautiful gorge filled with pine and inhabited by Cabras Montesas – wild mountains goats – and mucho más – much more.
This 1.4 km concreted track takes less than five minutes and brings you right to the beach where there is plenty of parking space available (September-June).
You will know that you have overshot the turning if you see the motorway viaduct looming up ahead on a large bend. Fortunately there are a couple of places where it is possible to turn around and go back the way you came, including a large and well signed tarmac parking/picnic area on the left.
Approaching from the West (Nerja, Málaga) on the N-340 is easier as you are on the right side of the road to turn off and the sign for the beach is actually visible if you are taking it quite slow.
You will know that you are close when you can see the beautiful wooded gorge dropping down to Cantarriján on your right and the motorway viaduct looming large above you on your left. Go past the parking/picnic spot on your right and turn off into the parking area by the Costa Tropical Mural (top right image of the collage above). If you get to the Cerro Gordo Tunnel, you’ve missed it.
On Cantarriján Beach
When you get there you will find one of the prettiest, sheltered beaches on the coast. As we made our way down the track, which cuts through Natural Park, I knew that we were in for something special when we spotted two wild mountain goats lingering amongst the pine. They seemed as interested in us as we were in them, until I got my camera out that is.
On the first beach are all the amenities. There are two restaurants to choose from and we ate at La Barraca which I can definitely recommend for service, ambience and a pretty good seafood lunch. There are also sunbeds with umbrellas and tables for hire (€5 a bed), kayak and pedalo rental and calm, crystal water which was the perfect temperature in sun-baked, yet still off-peak, June.
The second beach, which is even more picturesque than the first, is accessed by walking east round the headland under an overhanging cliff. You may have to paddle round depending on the tide.
To bare all, or not to bare all? Don’t sweat it.
The fact is that the vast majority of the people on the beach were completely naked. However, you should do whatever makes you comfortable as the vibe on Cantarriján is very much live and let live.
And everyone dressed for lunch, which is all you need to know really.
Me? I went the full bikini! I was there with my parents and my four year old and we had a lovely and relatively ‘modest’ time.
I would say that the second, more remote beach, is perhaps more hardcore nudist (for want of a better phrase) and there was not a child to be seen. Oh, and no dogs either by the way.
Top tips for Cantarriján
* If at first you don’t find the beach… keep trying
* Book your table for lunch as soon as you arrive at the beach
* Take care to apply extra sun protection to those sensitive parts where the sun don’t normally shine
Find more information on the best beaches on the Costa Tropical here. We would love to hear from you if you visit Playa Cantarriján and found this post useful. Please use the comments box below to let us know if there is anything that you would add. And do tell us about your favourite beaches on the Costa Tropical.
This map has been zoomed in on the start of the track to the beach. You can zoom out to get the bigger picture on how to get there.