Nerja is deservedly renowned for its beautiful beaches, but it is only the start of a magnificent stretch of coastline that extends all the way to Almuñecar. They draw a good crowd during the summer but at this time of year you can often enjoy a whole beach to yourself!
This walk starts in the car park above Playa Cañuelo, explores the rocky coastline of the Los Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo natural park and ends up on my favourite beach east of Nerja, Playa Cantarriján.
How to get there
At Nerja, take the turnoff for Maro on to the N-340. Bypass Maro and continue east on this road, also known as the Carretera de Almería, for about 10 minutes. Look out for a signpost on the right for Playa Cañuelo. Take this right and you’ll find a good-sized car park. A wide concrete track winds down to Cañuelo beach, about 1.5km.
From June to September, a shuttle bus carries visitors up and down to Cañuelo on this track. It would be no fun hoofing back up here in 40 degrees heat!
Playa Cañuelo is a wide stony beach with crystal clear water.
We had the beach to ourselves, bar a couple of hikers sipping beers in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it chiringuito that almost blended in to the trees. You can just see it to the left in the photo below. Walk east past the chiringuito to the end of the beach.
Clamber over the rocks here.
Or just take off your shoes and wade through this section. It’s about 50m and the water is ankle height.
Once over the rocks you begin to climb, nothing too strenuous but you need to watch your footing. Here and there you’ll come across blue-painted stones and red arrows to assure you you haven’t gone astray. Continue following the path through the pines.
The kids loved this part of the walk. Afterwards they called it “the beach mountain jungle adventure walk” which is pretty accurate. Lots of variety to keep the kids engaged.
After a bit you will pass the gorgeous Playa de los Doncellas, one of many hidden coves only reachable on foot or by boat/board.
At this time of year, you’ll need to look out for processionary caterpillars, more info on these here. They are especially dangerous for children or dogs. We came across a lot of old cocoons in the trees but thankfully no live caterpillars.
Before long, a smaller path diverts to the right off the main path. This leads to an old stone tower, Torre de Caleta, one of many watch towers from the 16th century dotted along this coastline that guarded against invaders from Africa.
This is the perfect spot for lunch with a view.
After lunch, remember to walk due north to meet the main path again. From here it’s easy peasy, all flat or downhill.
Don’t forget to keep looking back! These are some of the best views on the south coast. The photo below was taken from the Caleta ridgeway looking back at Playa Cañuelo in the midground and Nerja lost in the mist in the distance.
The path continues winding down to the riverbed that flows out on to Cantarriján beach.
From here, follow the concrete path down through the car park to the beach.
And what a beach to end on!
Check out the route on Wikiloc.
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