The Country Jumper contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!.
We were lucky to have a high of just 28°C (82°F) with overcast skies on a Saturday in mid August when we headed out for Costa del Sol hike. We’d chosen a coastal hike as opposed to the inland mountains so we could take advantage of the ocean air and stop for a dip once we’d completed our trek.
I did some research into where and how we could hike in the Nerja area and I had to do a good deal of Google excavation to find the route we ended up on.
Luckily, thanks to a car on lend, getting to Playa del Cañuelo was simple, about 20 minutes east out of Nerja, past Maro, following the little white sign off the roundabout. We arrived around 11:30 on a Saturday morning and the parking was already overflowing. The road out this far runs along the top of a ridge line and the beach is all the way down at the bottom of that ridge. There’s a shuttle bus that makes the journey but the queue to get on it was more than 50 people long, each equipped with chairs, tents, towels, coolers, floats and snorkel equipment, everything needed for a Spaniard to settle on the beach for the day.
We skipped the line and started to walk, it was downhill so very doable. But the dust kicked up by the passing buses encouraged us to take a little dirt path leading to the left, zig zagging across the mountainside and opening up to a full view of the long stretch of sand that is Cañuelo beach. The rocky sea floor turns the perfectly clear water into a shimmering blue glass that creates the most picture perfect vista.
The final bit of our path became quite steep and we bemoaned our status as non-mountain goats. But we fumbled our way down and got onto the beach. Long enough, this beach, despite being crowded, didn’t feel suffocating. It was spotted with colorful umbrellas already but still had plenty of elbow room. We turned to our left where high rocks offered a bit of mid day shade. There we took a moments rest before heading up the steep path to start the hike.
If you’re looking for this path it’s at the very far east end of the beach, left, if you’re looking at the ocean. It’s set back just a few feet from the sea, behind some trees. It is very steep and narrow and doesn’t really look like much of a path. But a few steps in you’ll notice the first blue spray painted mark, these are your trail guide from here on out.
On the other side of that first outcrop was another, small, empty beach. Had we had more time we might’ve attempted the descent. But a descent means an ascent and not only did we have some time constraint we also just weren’t keen to add to our elevation gained. So we cooed at its beauty from above and headed towards the watch tower. Following the blue markers we skirted past cacti and circumnavigated a dry but flourishing green river bed, I noticed a few of the bushes I brushed up against emitted a beautiful scent of wild spices, thyme, rosemary? I haven’t got a clue.
We reached the watch tower, about halfway through, a bit off the path but worth every step for a view straight out along the coast. From there you can see other watch towers which mark each outcrop of land in both directions, some have held up against time while others have withered and crumbled away. We snapped some shots and tried to get back to the path. We got a bit lost at this point, ending up in the middle of lots of greenery (read: brownery) though once we figured out which direction we needed to go we turned out to be about 20 steps from the perfectly formed dirt path.
Shortly we crossed paths with two Spaniards headed in the other direction who reassured us we were near our final destination. We climbed down off the ridge into playa de Cantarriján.
I didn’t time the walk but I would guesstimate it took us just over an hour. It wasn’t by any means strenuous but I felt I’d done just enough exercise to earn myself a Tinto de Verano at the chirringuito (beach bar). Restaurante La Barraca, the recommended stop on the beach, was a bit pricier than we expected or than what we are used to here along the coast. So we ordered a single portion dish to share, the waitress didn’t seem impressed with the choice and reinforced, more than once, that the cajun rice was for one person only.
After our refueling stop we dipped our dirty legs in the water, the overcast day discouraging us from getting fully submerged and we hopped on the €2.00 bus back to the top of the hill where we walked a quick 15 minutes along the main road back to the car.