Maro, set in an area of natural and still unspoilt beauty...
On the previous page of things to see in Maro, we described some of the places in and around the village, and on this page we give those that are a little further away, but equally fascinating. As usual, we’ve tried to add enough info so you know what you’re looking at, so you can get the most from your visit. [Photo right by Carlos Castro].
Maro is a fantastic opportunity to explore an area of natural and still unspoilt beauty. The beautiful Cliffs of Maro are a protected area with a number of unspoilt natural beaches to explore. Indeed, for those that are tired of fighting for room to spread their towels on the popular beaches, then the semi-wild beaches around Maro will come as a pleasant surprise. Kayaks can be hired at Maro beach to enjoy a spot of snorkelling and diving in the crystal clear waters off the beaches, or to see the enormous Maro Waterfall.
Along the headland you’ll find a number of fascinating ancient watchtowers, some ruined, some not. Also worth a visit is the Molino del Papel (paper mill), set in a cove which has a fascinating history, right up to today. But, if you’re just looking for an area to have a good hike in, then head to the huge National Park with its panoramic views of both mountains and the glistening Mediterranean sea, whose entrance is just next to the Nerja Caves.
At the bottom of this page you’ll find links to the first page of visits in and around Maro.
As ever, if you’ve visited any of these places, don’t forget you’re invited to leave a comment describing your experience, (note that a Facebook account is necessary).
With so many visitors to the Costa del Sol, it makes going to a natural beach and enjoying clean, crystalline waters something priceless. And you couldn’t wish for a more idyllic location than here, with a gorgeous turquoise sea surrounded not by concrete but by beautiful verdant nature. In fact, it is award winning.
It is not only the cove-like beaches along the border of the Cliffs of Maro Natural Area (see section below), that have benefitted from the fact that this coastal strip is rigorously preserved, but also the waters offshore because the protected zone actually extends out to sea. This has led to an explosion of marine life, because no fishing is allowed within this area. This, combined with the clear waters, makes it one of the best locations in Andalucia for snorkelling and diving. Just put a mask on and your head underwater, and you are almost guaranteed to see some type of marine fauna in amongst the coral reefs and sea grass!
Here’s our guide to the main beaches, travelling all the way to the edge of eastern Málaga, bordering with Granada province.
The small beach at the mouth of the cove is typical of those around here, with black sand and pebbles, and totally uncommercialised. For many, it is exactly this wild inaccessibity that appeals to those wanting to get away from crowded beaches with wall-to-wall cafes. Therefore, this beach is not as suitable for those with families and young children that may need various facilities like toilets/changing rooms, shops and cafés…
Access: via the N340 at km 298. Take a right hand turn and the road descends down a step slope onto the old road. Follow this until you reach the Molino de Papel where you veer right and drive down towards the beach, where you should be able to park and walk the rest of the way.
Due to its national park status, there are no facilities whatsoever, the only ‘facility’ is a ‘shower’ that has been created out of a natural spring that flows out of the mountains. Food and water must be brought with you.
From the beach you can see the ruins of the old watchtower known as the Torre del Rio de la Miel (Honey River Tower), which looks like it is just about to fall into the sea. Access is via the N340 at km 299. The track is in good condition, although during the summer vehicle access may well be restricted.
There are two beaches of medium size (roughly 150 metre long), separated by fallen rocks which can be walked over fairly easily. The half a mile long path down to them is through a wonderful natural landscape full of pine trees. In both calas you will find a pebble beach surrounded by tall cliffs and bordered by rocky outcrops jutting into the sea.
Access: via the N340 also at km 299. Park your car and take the dirt track which descends to the beach. Be careful though the 200 metre track can be quite loose under foot at times. But its seclusion means that even at the height of summer it never gets as crowded as other beaches.
Again there are no facilities at this beach, and if bringing the family don’t forget that everything needs to be brought with you – suncream, parasol, and food and water! Also if bringing children, be warned it is a Naturist Beach!
So therefore it’s not surprising that Maro’s natural beaches are regarded as some of the best to be found on any of the coasts of Spain. In fact, the beach closest to the village itself – La Calla de Maro – was voted number 1 in Andalucia, and even came second in the whole of Spain, by TV station Antena 3. Then in 2014, Spain’s Ministry of Tourism launched a campaign to promote Andalucía and a photograph of Playa de Maro (see picture above) has been used as a backdrop to many of the adverts included in all regional and national newspapers; (the ‘tu mejor tú’ slogan means ‘your best you’). Similarly, tourism videos with images of Maro beach have been broadcast on Spanish television.
It is worth bearing in mind that some of these ‘natural’ beaches that are free from hordes of visitors, are also free from amenities as well. But then just remember to bring with you everything you might need to enjoy a relaxing day on the beach, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time. As mentioned above, the snorkelling is fantastic here and is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and there many good spots within easy swimming distance from the beach. Kayaks operate from Maro beach under the supervision of experienced monitors.
By clicking on the icons on the map below you can get driving directions to each beach.
Maro Waterfall - Cascada Grande de Maro
Next to a large rock, Maro’s beautiful waterfall, la Cascada de Maro, drops 50 feet in front of a cliff-face down into the sea. While there are other waterfalls around, it is certainly the largest and is one of the hidden treasures of the Cliffs of Maro and Cerro Gordo. Approaching it in a kayak or canoe you first hear its thunderous sound before getting splashed by the waters cascading over the cliffs and the waves they generate – an incredible experience. Kayaks can be hired on Playa de Maro from March till October to go and see it – it’s only 5 minutes away from the beach.
La Cascada de Maro is fed from the Sanguino or Camplillo streams (arroyos) that originate with the overflow from the Manantial de Maro, a local spring that bubbles up with some force from the mountains behind and still supplies the village with all its water.
Cliffs of Maro - Acantilados de Maro a Cerro-Gordo
The Cliffs of Maro is a stunningly beautiful conservation area, spanning a narrow band of coastline, extending a mile out to sea, bordering the N340 road, between Maro in Málaga and La Herradura in the Granada province. It covers about 18 hectares, and is approximately 12 kilometres long. This is an area of great ecological significance for the diversity of species and for a rich marine flora and fauna, and protected under law as a ‘Paraje Natural’.
A unique pattern of ocean currents has created the perfect conditions for large fields of Posidonia sea grass to grow. This grass provides a safe haven for corral, sponges and brightly coloured fish, like the the Mediterranean rainbow wrasse. The limestone cliffs, which are the foothills of the Sierra Almijara mountain range, seem to practically tumble into the sea here. They have been eroded into incredible shapes such as arches and rocky outcrops rising out of the sea-bed.
Taking a boat trip will enable you to visit some stunning, out of the way spots, including some almost untouched and sheltered bays. On the way you might see dolphins swimming out in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile at the base of the cliffs there are also some amazing undersea caves such as the Cueva de los Genoveses and the Cueva de la Cajilla.
The cliffs tops also provide home to a large number of wild plants, including protected and rare species such as the Sea Lavender. The Spring is a lovely time to see all the wild flowers in bloom before the heat of the summer. There are also a large number of animals including a variety of sea birds, eagles, kites, mammals such as the weasel and fox, toads, frogs, geckos and the chameleon.
Important information regarding access and use:
This is a natural area and many roads are old or are just dirt-track. In the winter or in bad weather the roads may become damaged or become impassable. During the summer, due to the risk of fires many of the roads are closed to vehicles. For access please check at the town hall. The beaches here are also natural, and apart from in a few case there are no facilities on them. Please make sure you respect the area, do not pick the wild flowers, and take your rubbish home with you.
Note that on the direction map at the bottom of the page, there is only the one point shown for the Cliffs of Maro, but of course in reality they stretch from Maro all the way to Cerro Gordo, near La Herradura.
The Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama mountain park
Not only is there a slice of precious natural habitat on the Maro coastline, but there’s a much larger one inland. The enormous mountain parkland behind Maro and Nerja is called the ‘Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama,’ named after the three sierras (mountain ranges) it covers. It will give you a chance to experience a completely natural and unspoilt area of Spain. It covers 40,600 hectares and stretches 40 kilometres east to west, and 20 kilometres north to south. The entrance to the parkland is just before the Caves of Nerja.
For more information, including details on the wildlife you may be able to see there, and the large picnic / barbecue area called El Pinarillo – read our full description of the area here.
Note that on the direction map at the bottom of the page, there is only the one point shown for the Mountain Park, but of course in reality they stretch for miles behind the Maro caves.
There are six watchtowers in the Nerja area, two of which we’ve covered in one of our Nerja pages – Torre de Macaca and Torre Vigía La Torrecilla. The other four are past Maro – Torre de Maro, Torre del Rió de la Miel, Torre del Pino and Torre de la Caleta. Read the full story of Málaga’s watchtowers here. [Above: Torre del Pino in the foreground, followed by Torre de Caleta].
The tower-beacons were mostly built in the last quarter of the 16th century as part of a complex defence system. Their objective was to monitor an area of coast that was very attractive to pirates, and therefore especially dangerous to local farmers and fishermen. If there was any presence of danger to the other towers and their accompanying villages, then the towers (which were in line of sight with each other) would communicate either by means of smoke signals during the day, or with fires lit during the night. Special attention was paid to the placement of watchtowers in areas such as the mouths of rivers, from which enemy galleys could stock up on water, capture prisoners and loot the territory, or even disembark for an invasion; and perhaps even act as an escape point for Moorish defectors trying to flee to Muslim Morocco. Certainly the towers around Maro fit this criteria, being built close to the mouth of the Rio de la Miel as well as various small coves.
Some of the towers were repaired and refashioned over the years, especially in the 1700’s and during the War of Independence in the early 1800’s, but many fell into a dilapidated state. In the 1830’s, even while smugglers were literally landing in the coves that the towers had originally been designed to protect, some, like the Torre de la Miel, stood in semi ruin. Those that still stood though, would be used again by the state for Carabineros (an anti smuggling force), then for the Guardia Civil, right up to the 1940’s. None are now in use.
The 16th century Torre de Maro is built on a square platform, it is 11 meters high and at its base its perimeter is 23 metres. It was made with masonry and lime mortar. The entrance was high up the wall accessed by a ladder that was brought up in case of danger.
Access to the tower is at the 297 kilometre point on the old N-340 coast road. There is a signpost there which points to a track with crops on one side and a woodland on the other. After about a kilometre you’ll arrive at the platform where the tower is situated. Apart from seeing the tower itself, the views from around it are magnificent - which of course is the original reason for it’s positioning!
As a bastioned fortification it was equipped with two bronze cannons, one directed towards Nerja and another towards Playa Cañuelo. By all accounts the tower at Algarrobo Costa (La Torrenueva) was built by the same engineer and actually modelled on its design, so we know precisely what it should like. By the 1770’s the tower was again in a state of ruin thanks to the lashing of the sea in another storm, and that was the way it would stay, and in the 1850's it cracked in half. However, Torre de la Miel was to see one last piece of action. In the 1940's, the anti-Francoist guerrillas hid their weapons in the basement of the delapidated tower, (for a fuller account of the story see below under El Molino del Papel).
Access is from the car park for the Molino de Papel beach from where there is a path to the tower, very close to the left bank of the mouth of the Río de la Miel, and the Molino de Papel.
It is now on a private estate, next to the so-called "House of the Italian", on a high rocky ledge, among pines. It is 12 metres high and 18 metres in diameter, and like all of the nearby towers it is made of of masonry and lime mortar, and of a truncated cone shape.
Fortunately the tower has been refurbished over time and is in a good state of preservation. However, as it is on private land, surrounded by a fence, so there is no public access to it.
The 9 metre high Caleta tower was another built at the end of the 16th century, with the usual conical shape. The base is solid, then there is a room with high, south facing up openings. It culminates on top with a roof that conserves part of the parapet. It would have been the link between Torre del Pino and Torre Vigía de Cerro Gordo (near La Herradura in the province of Granada). It was refurbished in 2008.
It is situated on a steep headland between Cañuelo and Cantarrijan beaches, and access up to it is difficult, so possibly best done as part of a walking group.
Paper Mill - Molino del Papel
Just behind the beach named after it, Playa del Molino de Papel (see above), is a large building that was originally built as a paper mill in the 18th century. It was constructed by Manuel Centurión Guerrero de Torres, Governor General of the province of Guyana, who, after returning from South America, was entrusted by King Carlos III with several paper mill projects in the area. The one near Maro started operating in 1800.
The wheels in the mill were turned by the rushing waters of the Rio de la Miel, and much of the paper that was produced here went to the playing card factory near Málaga. Incredibly, De Torres, who was actually a local man born in Nerja, managed to secure the monopoly for his mill for the export of playing cards throughout the Spanish Empire. The paper mill was in operation until the end of the 19th century.
Ironically, although the mill was built by a local aristocrat, the Miel valley was later known as ‘Little Russia’ as a result of the communist sympathies of those that lived in it. So much so that the anti-Franco government guerrillas, known as the Maquis, were looked after by local people, including a certain Antonio Urbano Muñoz, who lived near the beach and concealed weapons under straw in the basement of the part of the delapidated Torre de la Miel tower (see above). This he was doing right under the noses of the Guardia Civil, who at that time were using the paper mill as a lookout post and base for interrogating people suspected of sympathising with the guerrillas.
He got away with this for years until, in 1944, Franco’s forces discovered a huge cache of arms, ammunition and radios there, and a large numbers of Maquis fighters as well as suspected sympathisers were subsequently arrested. Fortunately, Antonio got away in time. In a final twist of fate, one of those arrested was a descendant of the family of Manuel Centurión Guerrero de Torres.
This is still an area regularly patrolled by the Guardia Civil, because in recent years this beach has being used as a landing place for drug smugglers as well as people being smuggled from North Africa. However, for most of the time, the Paper Mill is now a quiet, secluded place, and its buildings, some of which are are partly derelict, are currently being rented out. It is currently owned by local landowners Azucarera Larios, and there have been plans in recent years to turn the building into a series of craft workshops, or even an environmental awareness centre.
To get there, take the right-hand turning about 300 metres past kilometre 298 on the N-340. You should be able to park anywhere there as it is a designated ‘mirador’ point, (a beauty spot to look out from and take pictures). You then walk along a track, which is actually the original old coast road, that winds its way down to the Molino de Papel, (and then to the beach).
More visits around Maro
There is plenty to see in and around Maro village itself. From the Balcón de Maro there are lovely views to the sea and mountains. On the plaza there is Maravillas church, and just below it the ruins of the village’s main industry for 300 years, the Ingenio de Maro.
There is also much to explore just outside the village. A short walk away is the awe inspiring Caves of Nerja, one of the most visited tourist attractions on the Costa del Sol, now with the added attraction of the Detunda Botanical Garden. In the grounds of the caves is the San Isidro Hermitage, the picturesque end point of May’s pilgrimage.
Slightly further away, but still in walking distance, are the impressive ruins of the San Joaquín sugar factory, the Roman Road, and the photogenic Puente del Aguila aqueduct.
Maro pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Maro, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.