1. Go hiking
There are many and varied hiking options for visitors to the Cabo de Gata natural park. Coastal paths mingle with mountain trails to create a very pleasant environment for hikers and walkers of all abilities. We've put together a list of some of our favourite routes to give you some ideas.
More Information About Our Hikes in Cabo de Gata
2. Explore the beaches and hidden bays
The beaches of Cabo de Gata have been described as some of the most beautiful in Spain and we're inclined to agree. From the well known and iconic Playa de los Genoveses and Playa del Monsul, to the small, secluded bays tucked away beneath the rocky cliffs, the beaches of Cabo de Gata natural park are something very special. There are so many of them that you could visit a new one every day for a fortnight and still not see them all. The stretch of beaches immediately to the west of San Jose is especially picturesque.
3. Walk along the clifftops
Although we've already mentioned 'hiking' above, the clifftop paths deserve special mention alongside the beaches of Cabo de Gata. Connecting those marvelous beaches are stunning stretches of volcanic coastline, with jagged rocky cliffs plummeting into the foaming sea below and crammed with narrow ravines full of volcanic chimneys protruding from the transparent waters. The GR92 hiking trail which runs right along the coast of the park takes in many of these clifftop paths which are well worth a visit for a long hike or a shorter stroll. The section connecting San Jose to Los Escullos is approximately 8km long and especially beautiful.
4. Watch the sun set into the Mediterranean sea from El Cabo de Gata
The peninsula of the Cabo de Gata natural park and the wide sweeping bay of Almeria create a fantastic backdrop to watch the sun set straight into the sea on an otherwise south facing coast. Sitting in the coastal town of El Cabo de Gata, either on the sandy beach or outside of one of the handful of beach cafes while the sun goes down is a lovely experience.
5. See the flamingoes at Las Salinas
Bird life accounts for much of the wildlife species found in the Cabo de Gata natural park, and the flamingoes of the Las Salinas salt flats are one of the most well known. From the various bird hides dotted around the inland lagoons just to the east of El Cabo de Gata it is possible to enjoy the sight of flocks of these slender, pink birds foraging or in flight. The hides aren't too close to the water though, so a good camera or pair of binoculars is a definite advantage for visitors.
6. Have a drink in San Jose (or any of the beautiful coastal villages)
The sparse population, peace and quiet of the Cabo de Gata natural park is one of the main advantages for many villages, but that doesn't mean there is nowhere to get dinner or a drink either. San Jose in particular, one of the larger of the coastal villages, is an idyllic place to spend an afternoon. Walking on the small sandy beach before sitting in one of the handful of sea front cafes/restaurants by the harbour is a very pleasant experience. Or you could try Las Negras, El Cabo de Gata or Aqua Amarga as well.
7. Visit Almeria
This relatively large city is less than an hours drive from the Cabo de Gata natural park and provides a wonderful old town and alcazaba for exploring, along with a much more metropolitan release or seafront promenade for anyone who wants a change from the quiet isolation of the park itself.
8. Car Tour the Sierra Nevada Mountains
The Sierra Nevada mountains, home to the most southerly ski resort in Europe, with peaks rising up above 3000m is an impressive sight from the park itself. However, it is well worth getting a closer look by taking a car tour of the area. With other mountain ranges nearby as well, such as the Sierra de los Filabres and the Sierra Almahillas and the Tabernas Desert lying in between, the natural beauty on offer within a couple of hours drive is amazing.
9. Visit an extinct volcano
The volcanic history of the Cabo de Gata natural park is the reason it has such a unique and fascinating geology. The evidence of the violent volcanic history is all around the park, but especially so on the peaks or bowls of the extinct volcanoes. The Caldera de Majada Redonda just to the north of Los Escullos is one of the most accessible. For anyone expecting a steaming crater and pointed cone this might seem underwhelming, since 15 million years of erosion have softened the peak and crater. However, the wide opening where the magma broke the mountain side (which you enter through) is a wonderful entrance to this peaceful and tranquil space.
10. See the gold mines, museum and botanical gardens at Rodalquilar
The gold mines at Rodalquilar are an impressive sight. Gold mining was prevalent in this region for about 100 years on and off, between the mid-late 1800's up until as late as the 1980s. At one time these mines were recognised as some of the largest in Europe with over 1400 workers living in Rodalquilar for that reason. Today, however, they have been closed for almost 30 years and the workers houses form a ghost town. However, the open cast mines still offer a beautiful place to stroll around, alongside the museum and the botanical gardens also on offer in Rodalquilar.
11. Go cycling
Anyone with a mountain bike or even a hybrid has numerous options for cycling trails in the Cabo de Gata natural park. Many of the hiking trails marked on maps are wide and primarily gravel based allowing them to be passable by bike relatively easily. For road cyclists there is slightly less on offer since the park is actually relatively small so any longer loops sticking entirely to the handfuls of roads might not be overly exciting. However, for casual cyclists looking for a short to medium ride there are some interesting routes, such as cycling around the tip of Cabo de Gata or riding up to the Torre de los Lobos as we tried.
Cycling around the tip of Cabo de Gata | Cycling to Torre de los Lobos
12. Visit a local market
Cabo de Gata hosts several markets throughout the week including those at San Jose, El Cabo de Gata and Campohermoso as well as larger markets on the outskirts of Almeria. In addition to offering some very fresh and very low price fresh produce, meat and fish, these markets are still the most accessible way to get access to fresh food in this remote natural park without driving into Almeria (we only saw 3 small supermarkets during our stay, 2 in San Jose and 1 in El Cabo de Gata).
These are things we've enjoyed in the Cabo de Gata natural park but if you have any of your own suggestions or comment, please share below. We'd love to hear from you ......
Other Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Visit the Cabo de Gata -Nijar Natural Park - Andalucia, Spain
10 Hiking and Walking Routes in the Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park