Nerja beach guide... Playazo Chucho Torrecilla Salón Caletilla Calahonda Chorillo Carabeo Carabeillo Burriana
10 more reasons to visit this beautiful pueblo...
The perfect holiday combination - sun, sea and 10 sandy beaches!
Nerja has a good variety of sandy ‘playas’ (beaches), most with easy access and good facilities, as well as shops, bars and restaurants close by. The beaches are well maintained throughout the year. The sand is mostly a greyish colour rather than yellow.
Although Nerja has proudly achieved the world-wide Blue Flag award in the past for some of its beaches, it lost the awards for its two main ones, Burriana and Torrecilla beaches, in 2014. This was because of the ongoing problem that the town does not have its own sewage treatment plant. Now, due to a recent EU ruling, these coveted flags for cleanliness and facilities cannot be awarded to towns that do not have one.
To be fair, Nerja’s beaches have not changed in their standards or maintenance during this time and the town hall is finally building its water treatment plant. Every year plenty of bathers go swimming in the sea off Nerja’s beaches. However, there has always been a long running issue over the cleanliness of the sea around the Nerja area. There is no clear advice, as the cleanliness of the water can depend on the day and local wind conditions.
Despite losing their Blue Flags, the beaches of La Torrecilla, Burriana and El Chucho in Nerja received the Spanish ‘Q for Quality’ award in 2014. The ‘Q for Quality’ badge is awarded by the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality (ICTE), and recognizes the improvement of services provided on beaches, and therefore the value it adds to the tourism on offer in Spain.
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).
Click on beach icons for driving, walking and cycling directions.
Guide to the beaches - west to east
Playa el Playazo is a long, wide beach that is situated on the western outskirts of Nerja between the Tropicana urbanisation and the mouth of the Rio Higueron. The sand is of a typically Mediterranean type; dark and grainy.
Access is very easy to it, either by crossing the Rio Chillar on foot at the eastern end, by bus, or by car. There is public parking in several places along its 1.8 kilometre length.
Due to its out of town location El Playazo has less slightly less facilities than other Nerja beaches, but on the plus side it is therefore usually less crowded, with tourists preferring to use beaches more centrally located. That in itself makes it more popular with locals, but not overly so, so the more adventurous holidaymaker looking for a ‘real’ undeveloped beach, will always find a spot to themselves, even in high season.
Indeed, much of the beach has a deserted, almost rural feel to it and is bordered by small farms and sugar cane plantations, making it one of the most authentic beaches in the area. Furthermore, rather than being lined at the rear by concrete and buildings, one of Playazo’s charms is that it offers wonderful glimpses of the lush Vega de Nerja farmland on the other side of the beach road, as well as the dramatic hill and mountain scenery in the distance.
Nevertheless, it is not completely deserted, there is quite a large hotel and four chiringuitos along it. These beach bars and restaurants all offer fish and meat dishes and tend to be lower priced than the restaurants on Nerja’s more popular beaches.
El Playazo is the longest of Nerja’s beaches and the reason why many local families choose to put their marquees up and spend the whole day here.
Also, along with the Playa de Burriana it is one of the beaches to celebrate some of the local fiestas, especially San Juan (around the 23 / 24 of June). At both of these locations large numbers of the locals congregate to celebrate this special night with outdoor dancing and a municipal bonfire.
As Nerja doesn’t have a port, El Playazo is also the beach where most boats set sail from, and therefore has a boatyard also. The beach is excellent for water sports as well as for swimming in having been awarded for its cleanliness in the past.
Services on Playa el Playazo include:
• Free car parking • Bus stop • Beach cleaning• Hammocks, sun loungers and parasols for hire • Showers • Phones • Litter bins • Toilets and showers • Lifeguards in the summer • Children’s play areas • Exercise apparatus
El Chucho beach
El Chucho is a small, well maintained, stretch of dark sand between the old watch tower at Torrecilla and where the Rio Chillar meets the sea, (el Playazo beach lies on the other side of the river). It is a fairly short walk from the centre of Nerja, but it is also accessible by bus. There is some amount of free parking on the streets behind, but more guaranteed is the parking around Playazo beach.
There is a nice promenade – paseo maritimo – which links El Chucho with Torrecilla that was opened in 2010. It is very popular with cyclists as well as pedestrians going on an early evening stroll.
While there are no chiringuitos along the beach, there is a kiosk that sells drinks and refreshments, and it’s a short walk to the bars and restaurants on Torrecilla beach. It’s also possible – though a little further – to go via the river path over to the chiringuitos on Playazo beach.
El Chucho is fairly sheltered and because the water deepens gently it’s a good place for the kids to go paddling. However, there are rocks here so wearing flipflops or sandals may save stubbed toes! Still a firm favourite with families though.
The beach can get crowded during the summer, and the presence of the popular hotel Perla Marina immediately behind it increases the volume of visitors.
El Chucho beach is only 280 metres long and 30 metres wide at it’s greatest extent, and sometimes with high tides that width can reduce down to a thin strip. Also, with one end being bounded only by the Rio Chillar, there is nothing to stop sand drift during winter storms, so it’s not unusual to see the lorries replenishing the beach!
Services on Playa el Chucho include:
• Disabled access • Showers • Toilets • Sunbed rentals • Lifeguards during the summer months • Kiosk • Promenade
El Torrecilla beach
La Torrecilla is a small beach in the west of Nerja at the end of Avenida Castilla, but after Burriana beach it is probably one of Nerja’s most popular beaches. This is because it is in one of Nerja’s more developed and modern tourist hotspots, but within easy walking distance from the older part of the town. Also, it has many facilities on offer, and has a promenade that runs the full length of the beach.
Torrecilla is also an easily accessible beach, with no less than five entrances to it – one at each end and three more along the promenade. Being so conveniently located, the beach can get busy during the summer months.
Torrecilla’s promenade overlooking the beach runs from El Chucho beach at one end – starting at the old Moorish watchtower – and runs all the way to the base of Plaza de los Cangrejos.
There is no immediate parking behind other than what you can find available on nearby streets, which can be difficult to locate at the height of summer. Paid parking spaces, or simply walking to the beach given its central location, are the best options.
For refreshments Torrecilla has everything you’d want, from bars and restaurants to kiosks for snacks. Plus there are also numerous other eating places within a very short walk from the beach, particularly around Plaza Fabrica de los Cangrejos and on Avenida Mediterraneo. Plaza Cangrejos also has entertainment and special events during the summer, organised by the local town hall.
Torrecilla also benefits from a ‘Biblioplaya’, a kind of beach library, where you can borrow a book to read, providing you can show some type of identification. There are various books available, many in different languages like English, German, French or Italian. In order to expand the library visitors are also encouraged to donate any books they’ve brought with them or bought in Nerja, at the end of their holidays. In addition to books, there are also magazines, newspapers, and even games for the kids available too.
The beach takes its name from the nearby La Torrecilla tower built to protect Nerja from raids by North African pirates. It was bombarded by a British ship in 1812 during the Peninsular War against Napoleon (1808 – 1814), known in Spain as the War of Independence.
Torrecilla’s beach consists of the usual dark sand and pebbles. It is 300 metres in length and approximately 40 metres wide. The rocky outcrops at the ends of the beach are popular with fishermen, so do be careful when swimming or snorkelling in these areas! Also be aware of quite strong currents around these areas too.
For those wanting to base their holiday around Torrecilla there are numerous hotels and apartments including the imposing Rui Hotel Monica.
Services on Playa el Torrecillo include:
Toilets • Showers • Lifeguards • Disabled access • Sunbeds, chairs and umbrellas rented out • Promenade • Refreshment kiosks
El Salón beach
The picturesque Playa El Salón, surrounded by palm trees, is not far from the Balcón de Europa. A charming little spot where you can still see fishing boats and even fishermen’s houses built into the cliff face behind the beach, (now used as summer houses).
[Photo left: Paco Haro Ramirez]
El Sálon is about 200 metres in length by 20 metres wide (depending on the tide) and has medium grain, dark sand.
As there are rocky cliffs either side of El Salon, the only way to access the beach is by foot. It is a pleasant little walk though, down a decoratively cobbled alleyway, (photo right), called Calle Salón to the left of the Toboso Hotel, at the end of which there are a few winding steps down to the beach.
However, when the sea is out enough it is possible to also access the beach from La Caletilla, the next beach along to the east.
The nearest parking, is the underground car park near the town hall.
Being so centrally located and with hotels nearby, the beach is often quite busy, especially in summer, in fact, along with Playa Calahonda, it is probably the busiest in the area. Its close proximity to all the shops, bars and restaurants in town also means that there are few facilities on the beach apart from a little kiosk selling refreshments.
Like Playa Torrecilla, El Salon also has a ‘Biblioplaya’, a kind of beach library, where you can borrow a book to read providing you can show some type of identification. There are various books available, many in different languages like English, German, French or Italian. In order to expand the library visitors are also encouraged to donate any books they’ve brought with them or bought in Nerja, at the end of their holidays.
Every August 14th the ‘Fiesta Blanca’ or White Feast is celebrated in which locals and tourists come along dressed in white. The whole area is decorated with torches creating a magic atmosphere, and in the evening there is music and live entertainment.
Services on Playa el Salón include:
Toilets and public showers • Changing facilities • Lifesaving team (summer) • Access for the disabled • Hammocks, sun loungers and parasols hired out • Refreshment kiosk.
La Caletilla beach
In the centre of Nerja, to the west of the Balcón de Europa is the little Playa la Caletilla, situated right in front of a hotel. It is set in a beautiful cove surrounded by a rocky cliff face that is mostly green with vegetation, with quiet crystal blue waters and palm trees, giving it a wild, almost tropical feel.
This tiny beach, composed of the usual dark sand, is only 50 metres or so in length and between 15 and 30 metres in width, and can disappear completely with high tides or if the sea is rough.
What La Caletilla lacks in services is more than compensated by it’s central location close to amenities, making it an ideal beach for families. You can also walk to El Salon beach, which is the next beach along to the west.
To access the beach you will have to go under an arch called the ‘Boquete de Calahonda’ to the left of the Balcón, down the stairs to the neighbouring Calahonda beach, and instead of stopping just continue along the small walkway around the base of the Balcón; from here you’ll go down a few steps to La Caletilla beach on your left.
Despite the beach’s limited size, it is hugely popular in the summer due to its convenient location and picturesque setting.
The hotel Balcón de Europa, directly behind it, provides the services for the beach. However, contrary to many peoples first impressions, la Caletilla is certainly not a private beach, though because it can be accessed from the hotel it is very popular with its guests. Note that the loungers are usually reserved for hotel guests!
The only place close by to eat in is at the hotel restaurant. Naturally, prices tend to be slightly higher than in surrounding restaurants, but the food is good and it’s terrace offers unbeatable views of the beach and sea during the day, or for watching a beautiful sunset in the evening.
Services on Playa la Caletilla include:
Rental of sunbeds, chairs and umbrellas • Restaurant and bars (at the hotel)
La Calahonda beach
For decades Calahonda beach has been one of the most well-known of Nerja’s beaches, featured on nearly all of its postcards. Its iconic status is mostly because of its location next to the famous Balcón de Europa, the centre of virtually every tourist’s itinerary in Nerja.
However, Calahonda is also undoubtedly a beautiful beach, and has featured both in film and on television. Raquel Welch appeared here in the 1967 film ‘Fathom’, and in Spain it was made particularly famous by the television series ‘Verano Azul’.
Calahonda is in a sheltered little cove, hemmed in by cliffs and rocks, about 120 metres long and just over 20 metres wide with dark sand and pebbles. When the wind comes from the west – especially during the winter months – these cliffs provide great shelter, making the beach a great choice for those wanting somewhere to sunbathe when holidaying in Nerja during off-peak seasons.
Among the rocks on the eastern side of the beach there sometimes appears – depending on sea levels – a wide sandy stretch of sand, which can be a welcome discovery on days when the beach is heaving with people. From here it also is possible at low tide to access the next beaches to the east – playas Chorillo and Carabeo – which, along with the rocks beneath the Balcon de Europa, are particularly popular with snorklers and scuba divers because of the clear tranquil waters off shore.
This picturesque little Nerja beach is accessed by a pathway under an arch called the ‘Boquete de Calahonda’ to the left of the Balcón de Europa, (when approaching from the centre of town). While for most people negotiating the steps as they zig-zag down to Calahonda beach is not too taxing, especially as it is in a number of stages, those with a pushchair or wheelchair may found it rather difficult. Families with children old enough to walk unsupported should have no problem – and they are certainly here in great numbers at the height of summer. Note that access to Playa la Caletilla can be gained this way too, around the base of the Balcón.
Local fishermen can still be seen on Playa Calahonda either repairing their nets, pushing their traditional little boats out to sea, or returning, dragging their craft back up the beach hopefully with a big enough catch of fish to be sold to the local restaurants. However, as the years go by their numbers are dwindelling. Adding to the idyllic scene are a few old dwellings built into the cliffs, which at various times fishermen may have either lived in or stored their fishing equipment there; and with their painted blue doors and white walls they look very picturesque.
Although, unfortunately, there is no longer a restaurant on Calahonda, there are several above where you can enjoy a snack or a meal on the terrace and gaze down on the beach. There are plenty of shops around the Balcon de Europa that sell beach items, snacks and drinks, open most of the year around.
There is no parking near the beach, with the nearest being the paid underground car park behind the tourist information office, accessible from Calle la Cruz.
Services on Playa la Calahonda include:
Beach Showers and Public Toilets • Rental of sunbeds, chairs and umbrellas • Kiosk with snacks • Lifeguard (in the summer) • First-aid .
El Chorrillo beach
Three small but very picturesque coves to the east of the Balcon de Europa, known also as Los Chorillos de Nerja, separated by large boulders and the rocky cliffside behind. El Chorillo is between the Calahonda and Carabeo beaches.
Together the coves measure 60 metres in length, and the high rocks that shelter them make it an ideal spot for snorkelling and scuba diving in the beautifully tranquil blue waters that surround them. When the tide is out there is approximately 20 metres of sandy beach which can get quite crowded at the height of summer.
Part of the charm of the Playa del Chorillo is that it has none of the usual tourist facilities like showers, sun loungers or restaurants, which means that it can be a nice secluded place to relax. But it also means that if you intend to spend any length of time in the coves – come prepared. Being so close to the Balcon though means that you haven’t got far to restock though.
The easiest access is by foot along the Calahonda beach, (this is the beach to the east of the Balcon de Europa which can be reached down large steps though the wall next to the Balcon).
The coves can also be accessed via a footpath that runs along the cliff dropping steepily from Calle Hernando de Carabeo. It is not an easy path though, which probably makes it unsuitable for families with prams or young children, or people that use wheelchairs. Accessing the coves from Calle Carabeo is easier via the stairs that run parallel to the Carabeo hotel.
Playa Carabeo is a small, sheltered cove located between Calahonda and Carabeillo Chico beaches. It is approximately 15 metres in width by 120 metres in length, and is surrounded by steep sided cliffs.
Despite being right next to Calle Carabeo it is hidden from view, which ensures (along with the steep steps that lead down it) that it’s often overlooked by tourists during the summer months, making it a relatively quiet, intimate beach, though situated just a few minutes walk from the Balcon de Europa.
Like all the beaches in Nerja it is composed of typical Mediterranean dark, coarse sand.
It can be accessed from steps found at the eastern end of Calle Carabeo. Note that these steep steps (over a hundred of them!) come off a small viewing platform just off Calle Carabeo, and aren’t really suitable for anyone with mobility problems or families with push chairs, etc. It possible though (when the tide is out) to reach Carabeo from Burriana beach.
Its facilities are limited but during the summer there are sunbeds for hire, as well as lifeguards and showers, and it is regularly cleaned.
There are no restaurants or bars, though there is a small kiosk that sells snacks at the height of the season. On the other hand, Burriana beach is only a short walk along the shore where there are plenty of bars and chiringuitos.
There is no parking down here of course, but there is a large car park nearby, north of Calle Carabeo.
Playa Carabeo, as well as the calle (street) above, were apparently named after an Italian gentleman called Hernando de Carabeo, who took part in a military assault in Nerja during the reign of Philip II.
Playa Carabeillo is a pretty little cove which can be accessed from the popular Burriana beach or from the steep steps found at the eastern end of Calle Carabeo. When the tide is out it looks as if it’s just the western end section of Burriana, but when it’s in, thanks to the lush vegetation and large boulders around its sides, Carabeillo resembles an inlet on a tropical island. Yet it is within a few minutes from the centre.
Carabeillo, or Carabeillo Chico as some call it, is one of the shortest beaches in Nerja at 70 metres long and a width of just 10 metres, and so when the sea is in, it makes a wonderfully secluded spot, ideal for those looking for quietness and relaxation. Also, its relatively difficult access means that is less crowded even during the high season.
The beach of course consists of typical Mediterranean dark, coarse sand and pebbles.
Because of it’s relative isolation Carabeillo offers very few amenities, except for showers, toilets and during the summer months, a lifeguard service. However, a multitude of bars and restaurants are only a short walk away on Burriana beach (tide permitting), or, if you’re feeling fit, back up the 100 odd steps to Calle Carabeo Prolongacion above.
Access to Carabeillo is usually via Mirador del Bendito, a pretty little square with a vine covered pergola providing shade for those just wishing to take in the fantastic views of the beach and the surrounding sea. And for many that see the steep steps leading down to the beach, that is as far as they get! Which often includes older people as well as families with very young children, and those with mobility impairment. On the other hand, when the tide is out it is a simple job to walk along the shoreline from Burriana beach.
Parking is available in the centre of Nerja as well as to the north of C/. Carabeo, plus a few spaces are sometimes available on the street behind the Mirador.
For many, when they think of Nerja, they think of Burriana: probably the number one of Nerja’s ten beaches despite it’s fairly difficult access by foot. It is undoubtedly the most comprehensively equipped beaches of Nerja, making it the most popular beach with families, (Spanish and foreign alike).
It is about one kilometre east of the centre of town, and can be reached by car or by foot (though it is quite a steep descent down to the beach). The walk down to Burriana though is worth doing part of the way (before you really descend to the beach), as the view of its bay with the mountains behind, is quite breathtaking. This combination of Burriana’s natural beauty and its facilities makes it the busiest of the local beaches during the summer.
Although the area immediately behind Burriana is quite built up, with up to five-storey buildings, it is not a sprawling eyesore as the surrounding cliffs prevent further development. In fact, many holiday-makers choose to stay in these apartments and hotels for its convenience to the beach as well as their access to the palm lined, paved promenade, filled with shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Burriana beach is about 800 metres in length by 40 metres wide (depending on the tide) and has medium grain, dark sand, and its sea has a moderate swell which get deep relatively quickly.
Its large promenade is named ‘Paseo Maritimo Antonio Mercero,’ after the producer of the 1980′s Spanish hit TV series ‘Verano Azul’, which was set in Nerja. It was this much-loved program that many Spaniards say put Nerja firmly on the tourist map. There is a commemorative sculpture to Antonio – a director’s chair – located about halfway along the promenade.
There are some great restaurants on the promenade, ranging from traditional outdoor Chiringuitos which serve delicious fresh fish and paella, to more international establishments such as pizzerias and even an Indian restaurant. Many have large terraced areas and are very reasonably priced. Restaurante ‘Ayo’ is probably the most well known. Sr. Ayo cooks the paellas over a open-wood fire himself – and you can go back for seconds! Ayo, now in his mid-Eighties, is a much loved local character and still full of energy, making a visit a must (even if you’re not that keen on paella!), when visiting Burriana – if not Nerja itself. As you can find out here, Ayo has a connection to the discovery of the Nerja Caves (that other Nerja attraction!), and he claims that back in the 1950’s he was one of the children who discovered them.
Many of the bars and restaurants have British owners so have widescreen TV’s and – naturally – show all the English football matches and other sporting events.
The beach is well equipped, covered by lifeguards, regularly cleaned and suitable for families, and there are plenty of ‘palm’ shaded sunbeds for hire, to keep the fierce sun off young skin.
There are now quite a lot of water sports available at Burriana, such as: windsurfing, parasailing, paddle boarding, various types of ‘banana boats’ to dive off, paddleboats, or you can go ‘extreme’ with jet skis. There’s even a diving centre where you can rent the necessary scuba equipment in order to visit the magnificent undersea flora, fauna and seagrasses along the cliffs. Also, you can rent a kayak and journey to La Caleta de Maro in the crystal clear waters, visit the nearby caves and see the waterfalls cascading over the cliffs – something not to be missed. This sea kayaking has become very popular in recent years thanks in no small part to the efforts of the local company, Educare Aventura (for more details – click here).
During the season, there are also larger craft anchored off shore (reached by dinghies), that offer day cruises along the coast.
Another reason Burriana is very popular with families is that apart from all the other facilities, there are a couple of proper children’s play area with slides and climbing frames, etc. Plus, there are a wide selection of ice cream parlours, souvenir shops, a supermarket, and shops where sunscreen, flip-flops (very useful at times when the slightly pebbly sand is burning hot!), beach toys, and umbrellas, etc, can be bought. For older children, there are three volleyball courts on the beach.
Like Torrecilla and Salon beaches, Burriana also has a ‘Biblioplaya’, a kind of beach library, where you can borrow a book to read providing you can show some type of identification. There are various books available, many in different languages like English, German, French or Italian. In order to expand the library visitors are also encouraged to donate any books they’ve brought with them or bought in Nerja, at the end of their holidays.
Next to the beach you can also find a pretty walk up to the gardens of San Juan de Capistrano, a tourist residential area built around a large pond and waterfall, set amongst lush tropical gardens, (see photo right).
At various times Burriana beach has received the EU ‘Blue Flag’ and Spain’s ‘Q for Tourist Quality’ award, with the latest being in 2016 for the ‘Q’ award. (According to Spain’s official website – The Q for Quality flag “differs from other standards in that it focuses especially on the tourism sector, with specific emphasis placed on the needs of the end user. Q for Quality does not only mean that the beach in question meets the necessary quality standards, but also that its facilities and services are constantly being improved to ensure customer satisfaction.”) Unfortunately, because of the town’s lack of a water treatment plant (sewage works), it has made it difficult to regain the particularly prestigious Blue Flag award. However, as many have pointed out, even if Nerja did possess such a plant (which is still some years away), it wouldn’t stop the occasional drift of ‘black water’ from other points along the coast appearing in the sea off Burriana; which, by the way, only appears occasionally under certain wind / tidal conditions, contrary to some scare-stories you might read.
Walking from the centre is easy enough, it’s the way back up afterwards that’s the hard bit as it’s situated at the foot of Calle Filipinas, or what some have nicknamed ‘Cardiac Calle’ due to its steepness! So, not very suitable for young children, families with push chairs and prams, older people, and the disabled. Therefore the most popular way to get to Burriana is by car or taxi, or if you’re already on the neighbouring Carabeillo beach, then when the tide is out it’s just a short walk along the shoreline, (but do remember that Carabeillo is only accessed via over 100 steps from the Mirador del Bendito, though!).
By car, drive north from Nerja centre (towards Almeria) along Avenida de Pescia (the main avenue leading west from the centre), until you reach the roundabout; then turn right off onto Calle Filipinas (at the residential area called ‘Urbanizacion Verano Azul’), and follow it downwards to the beach.
If you are lucky enough to be staying at the Parador de Turismo, it has it’s own exclusive lift down to Burriana beach!
Parking isn’t easy, but is possible either down Calle Filipinas or on the road that runs the length of the beach, or in the public carpark built a few years ago.
Unfortunately, at present there is no bus service to Burriana beach from Nerja.
Services on Playa Burriana include:
Access for disabled people • Paved Promenade • Supermarket • Shops • Kiosks, cafes, bars, restaurants • Nautical rentals Exercise Equipment • Children’s play areas • Beach volleyball • Toilets • Showers • Beach Cleaning • Litter Bins • Lifeguards • Public telephone • Tourist Information (summer months) • Rescue Services • Parking (limited)
Nerja pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Nerja, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.