Spain is definitely one of the first bucket list places when it comes to a perfect beach vacation. Let´s leave aside the touristy Costa Brava, Costa Blanca, and Costa del Sol. Where can you find the best beaches in Spain that are not packed with tourists?!
Where are they, these picture-perfect coastlines with green palms, fine sands, and blue waters?! Let´s talk details, shall we?!
Best beaches in Spain
Friends often ask me to recommend them some of my favorite beaches for an epic Spanish vacation. And this is the moment when I get completely lost in answer [lol]. While tourists often head to Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, which I admit partially makes me happy – they don´t end up messing up with my own vacation [lol], there´s more to the story here.
Let me clarify it, there’s nothing wrong with Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, and Costa del Sol. These are all great vacation choices, especially if you don’t live by the beach in your daily life or have never been to Spain before. The most touristic places are often the best-prepared ones in terms of infrastructure and services. Besides, there are many people who enjoy the buzz and go for populous places and crowded events. And that´s great.
Spain Off The Beaten Path
But I´d be lying to you if I say I’m not horrified every time I see in the Spanish Media places like Benidorm beach in the peak season. Seriously, that’s my idea of hell[lol]. I love having a bit of personal space, especially when it comes to a laid-back beach vacation.
As one of the most travel destinations in Europe, Spain off the beaten path is a tough one. Almost everywhere is touristic – but as always, let´s say some touristic places are less touristic than others.
So, where would I head for the best beaches in Spain?!
Costa del Azahar
Costa Azahar is the touristic name of the coastal area in the significantly less touristic province of Castellon. While the most popular ones between the international tourists are Peñiscola, Alcossebre, and Oropesa, many locals definitely put all their stakes on Benicassim.
If you´re a festivals fan, you might have actually heard of it because of FIB or Rototom Sunsplash. Benicassim is truly a sandy Mediterranean paradise. My
la Luz / Tarifa
Till recent years Costa de la Luz was my personal undiscovered area on the map of Spain.
Costa de la Luz includes the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva, and of course, Tarifa. Its beaches are bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and its desert-like white sands are epic. To name a few beaches: Zahara de
Tarifa goes as a separate chapter for me, cause it´s a personal crush. Some of the best beaches in Spain here- for sure!
Ok, we´re not talking about warm smooth waters as Tarifa sits at the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean meets Atlantic. But if you visited it even once – you’d know what I mean. Tarifa is one of those “love at first sight” places.
I even don’t know where to start. Long, huge, white-sand beach. Chilly surfer vibes: hipster cafes, surfer shops, cool people around. And let’s not forget the sea life: dolphins, whales, orcas… A boat tour ?! – Yes, please! The views of Morocco on the other side. Then you have the Parque Natural Los Alcornocales behind Tarifa with some amazing mountainous landscapes. I really can´t think of a better setting for an active beach vacation with some kite-surfing classes and local tapas.
Seriously, I’m sold here. Are you?!
Costa de Almeria
Situated in Southern province of Andalusia, Almeria often gets overshadowed by its famous neighbors.
The first thing to be mentioned here – some iconic Wild West landscapes of The Almeria Province. You´ll be surprised to find out that many of the top Hollywood Westerns were actually filmed in Almeria. You can even take a step back to the times of good old Westerns and visit Almeria´s Wild West Theme Parks. And let´s not forget Mojacar, definitely the prettiest one from Andalusia´s white villages.
But what about the beaches you´d ask?!
Of course, you have more beaches in Almeria – Monsul beach, Los Genoveses beach, Las Negras beach, Cala de Enmedio, Aguadulce beach etc. Although the epic landscapes of Los Muertos Beach have impressed me the most.
Another place with extremely beautiful beaches
No doubts, the most romantic Carribean-like place in Spain is Formentera. The best beaches in Spain are all here. It´s a very small island that could be reached by ferry from Ibiza (also Valencia/Denia in the summer months). There are not so many hotels on the island and basically, everything is overpriced. Nevertheless, Formentera is an exclusive natural paradise. It´s where celebrities and soccer players go to hide away from the rest of the world. Although they often rent boats to keep it even more private.
So, it´s not an actual off beaten path place, but it´s still quite exclusive.
You might visit Formentera as a day trip from Ibiza. With some
Ibiza or Mallorca in the offseason
I know what you´re thinking here, – Ibiza and Mallorca are very touristic. Yes, you´re right! But have you visited them in May or late September?! My last trip to Ibiza was in April and I stayed in a local homestay, rented a car to drive to the prettiest Calas – I literally had all this natural paradise to myself.
It would be fair to admit I was lucky with the weather, as April is a risky time to go. I remember years I was swimming in Spain in March and other years when the weather was nasty literally till June. You never know for sure, unless booking last moment. Anyway, when I say “it was cold” I mean people coming from warm countries. I once had an outdoor lunch in Ibiza in March, wearing a warm jacket, and a Scottish family (with little kids) sitting at the other table were clearly having a blast in their T-shirts and flip-flops. I bet they also went for a nice swim afterwards. So it really depends.
Also read: The Secrets of Ibiza: Must-Do List
Nevertheless, September and early October are almost always safe for the Balearic Islands to plan a perfect tourist-free beach vacation. So if you pick Mallorca and Ibiza, make sure to stay away from the big cities and remember that timing is a key here. You won´t believe how these places change when the summer craze is gone. Besides, if you want to combine beach time with occasional sightseeing (or maybe, parties) – it might be also your way.
Another alternative for the sun-beached shores here is Menorca. Although I’ve only been to Mahon myself. It´s most likely going to be one of my next vacation spots. So I´ll tell you more once I get a chance to visit.
When talking about best beaches in Spain you really can’t skip The Canary Islands. I’ve been quite a few times over the last years – Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura. I’m only missing Gran Canaria so far. Need some serious inspiration?! – Check this post: A Photographic Journey to The Canary Islands
Ok. Let’s be honest – it´s not about those Mediterranean waters again. But how about some volcanic landscapes and black sand beaches instead?! Technically The Canary Islands are much closer to Africa than they are to Europe.
Lanzarote & Fuerteventura
I did visit all of the three islands in the summer peak season: Lanzarote and Fuerteventura still felt very relaxed.
Playa de Aguila in Fuerteventura looked stunning, although with the waves it seemed more for the surfers. However, it´s the
As to Lanzarote, the trendiest beach Playa de Papagayo was packed. But the nearby Playa del Pozo was almost empty. There was a naked man walking along the beach (no judging! we´re on a vacay, aren´t we?!) the rest were dressed couples and families. Few people around.
However, if you really crave for an epic Canarian beach experience – head to La Graciosa Island. You only have to get on ferry that departs from Orzola, in the Northeast of Lanzarote. 20 min and you’re in a peaceful heaven.
Tenerife was a different story: the South part of the island is very touristic, while in the North – you can find paradise beaches off the beaten path. Lots of impressive black sand beaches. Although most of them have complicated access, strong currents and often seem like a better match for surfers.
In my opinion, Tenerife is the most impressive one from the Canary Islands in terms of landscapes, hiking, and activities. But it would be my last choice for a beach vacation.
Perhaps, there are a few exceptions here, like Playa de Las Teresitas.
Playa de las Teresitas in Tenerife is just a WOW kind of place. It´s not an off-the-beaten-path beach, for sure. But with such a wide and long sand line you can enjoy some personal space anyway.
Yes, water is not the warmest one and strong wind might spray some sand on you. But it´s a picture-perfect place where you could enjoy some exotic volcanic landscapes, Carribean-blue waters, white sands, and chilly island vibes. Besides, there´s a lot of space to walk and swim (and I remind again- we visited during the peak season). Another huge plus – lots of parking places around.
If you still convinced to have a beach vacation on Tenerife, also check Playa del Socorro, Playa de la Nea, Playa de Almaciga (near Playa Benijo), Playa de la Tejita, Playa Jardin,and Playa de las Vistas.