The Costa del Sol has a good selection of beaches ranking from long stretches of sand to tiny pebbled coves depending on the area. None of the beaches are particularly wide, and the tide never really goes out more than a couple of metres except on windy or stormy days. Most beaches are cleaned daily from March to the end of September, and some localities clean their beaches all year round. Lifeguard services are available on many beaches during July, August and part of September, and some localities have teams of beach patrollers walking the beaches as well. Outdoor showers are available on many beaches and often have toilets, showers and changing facilities.
Beaches get very busy in the summer months, particularly on Sundays when local families flock to the beach together with friends, huge tents, enough food for an army and tons of sea gear. It’s not uncommon to see tables laid with a tablecloth, cutlery, plates and glasses with a television or radio nearby. These families arrive at around noon and pack up late in the evening. On the other hand, many beaches are almost deserted in the autumn and winter months when you can walk for miles and sunbathe in peace.
There are no private beaches on the Costa del Sol, and access is good and well-signposted from the A-7 (signs usually say “Acceso Público a la Playa”). Parking facilities are limited in some places, and during the summer attendants operate in many car parks. You’re not obliged to pay them, although many people do.
Beaches to the west of the Costa del Sol are generally sandy or having only small pebbles, although not all are well-maintained out of season. The best sandy beaches in the area are found on the east side of Marbella stretching from Los Monteros to the Don Carlos hotel. Estepona and Marbella have good beaches with excellent facilities, most also have access for the disabled.
Mijas Costa has few good beaches apart from the sandy bay at La Cala. The other beaches are narrow, often rocky with sea urchins, and are rarely cleaned out of season. Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos all have nice, clean municipal beaches with excellent facilities.
Malaga’s beaches are concentrated on the east side of the city where the Playa de la Malagueta, Los Baños del Carmen and the Playa del Palo are situated. The sand is grey and occasionally there are problems with pollution from the nearby port but in general the beaches are well-maintained and clean.
There are several long, grey sandy beaches on the east side and Nerja has many isolated coves. Some of these, particularly near Maro, are protected natural areas and vehicle access is prohibited. The sand is coarse, and beaches in some parts aren’t well-maintained out of season.
Nudism is generally not officially permitted on beaches on the Costa del Sol. On a few other beaches the authorities may turn a blind eye, but bear in mind that if you go nude on a beach where nudism isn’t officially permitted, you risk problems with the police if other people on the beach complain. Going topless on beaches is permitted and is quite common, although some beach clubs don’t allow it.
- All litter should be disposed of in bins or taken home
- Camping is prohibited on all beaches on the Costa del Sol, although special permission may be requested from city authorities
- Fishing is permitted only in certain areas
- Dogs are prohibited on most beaches all year round. If they’re allowed it’s usually from October to March only
- Beach bars with sports equipment must have an entry and exit lane marked by coloured buoys in the sea. Swimming is prohibited in this lane.
- Vehicles aren’t allowed on the beach. Most beaches have parking facilities nearby and these are for public use unless the parking area is part of a hotel or complex. In the summer at some car parks there may be an attendant who guides you to a parking space, most likely expecting a fee for the gesture.