There’s something on offer in the province of Cádiz to please every type of beach-goer: from hidden coves and vast, windswept bays to charming inner-city beaches.
Aptly referred to as the “Coast of Light” – Cádiz boasts mile upon mile of golden sanded coastline lapped by the gleaming turquoise waters of the Atlantic ocean.
Read on as we take you through our pick of the best beaches in and around Cádiz.
1. Caños de Meca
Despite being little more than two lines of low houses skirting a clifftop, the tiny hamlet of Caños de Meca is a hugely popular summer spot for holidaymakers.
Once considered the focal point of the hippie and bohemian movement of the 1960s, the village still retains its laid-back charm to this day.
The hamlet derives its name from the large number of freshwater springs – known as caños– which tumble down the surrounding cliff faces.
Located to the north of Barbate and accessible via a road cutting through thick pine forests, Caños de Meca is also home to some of the best beaches in Cádiz – famed for their soft white sand and reef-filled, crystal clear waters.
The village beach – located at the foot of steep wooden steps – is lapped by turquoise waters and overlooked by the natural parklands the area is famed for.
Also to be found in Caños de Meca is the famous Cape of Trafalgar – where a lighthouse atop a rocky bluff looks over a wide sweep of sand beneath.
For the exhibitionists out there, the area is also home to many secluded nudist beaches!
If you’re looking for a chilled, post-beach snack as you watch the sun go down in Caños de Meca then check out Ohana.
This funky beach bar has a laid back vibe and simple yet satisfying food on offer such as burgers, salads and grilled fish.
There’s also often live music, so you can watch the sunset with a drink in hand before dancing the night away!
2. La Caleta
If urban beaches are your thing, then La Caleta in the city’s old town is widely considered as one of the best beaches in Cádiz.
This famous beach is steeped in history, having been formerly used as a natural harbour where Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans anchored their boats.
Dominated by an impressive white wooden pavilion that looks straight from a Victorian postcard, La Caleta has a relaxed, family-friendly vibe and its sheltered positioning means it benefits from calm waters perfect for swimming.
Small, colourful sailboats bob at the end of moorings close to the shore, and across the water, at the end of a long peninsula, the San Sebastian castle forms a dark outline against the sky.
Glance to the left and you will see the distinctive, star-shaped fortress Castillo de Santa Catalina, perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea.
You’re also a mere stone’s throw from the city centre – meaning wonderful seafood restaurants such as El Faro are within walking distance when you start to get peckish around lunchtime.
There are also great bars nearby such as Quilla where you can grab a cocktail and watch the sunset – the perfect way to round off a lazy beach day!
3. Playa Bolonia
No rundown of the best beaches in Cádiz would be complete without the inclusion of the magnificent Playa Bolonia.
Located a 20-minute drive from the town of Tarifa, this spectacular wild beach is known as being one of the most beautiful in the entire region.
Its privileged positioning on the edges of El Estrecho Natural Park means Bolonia enjoys preservation status and is protected from future development projects.
Backing onto a site of well-preserved Roman ruins, the beach boasts 4 kilometres of silky white sand edged by cobalt blue ocean, framed against the dramatic backdrop of Europe’s largest sand-dune.
Intrepid visitors often choose to climb this steep sandbank to marvel at the amazing views on offer from its summit – which span acres of natural parkland and encompass the nearby town of Tarifa and coastline of Africa.
Beach-goers can also opt to break up the sunbathing with a tour of the Baelo Claudia Archaeological Complex, which houses one of the best examples of Roman construction in the world.
Here visitors can wander the ruins of a sprawling Roman villa, which includes the remains of a marketplace, numerous administrative buildings and an amphitheatre.
Entrance is free for citizens of the European Union, and visitors can enter up until 30 minutes before it closes at 14.30.
If all that history makes you hungry, jump in the car and head for lunch to El Tesoro restaurant, a 20-minute drive from the beach.
This hidden gem boasts spectacular views of Bolonia from its terrace, and the food is delicious too!
For a more laid back, rustic vibe Ventorillo El Nene is also a great option. This low key venta – or roadside restaurant- is located a 15-minute drive from Bolonia beach.
It’s hugely popular with locals and famous for its delicious grilled meats and generous portion sizes.
4.) Playa Zahara
Much like its neighbouring Bolonia, Playa Zahara in the small fishing town of Zahara de los Atunes has resisted the onwards march of development.
Despite being attached to a town, this gorgeous wild beach remains uncluttered by large hotel chains or high-rise buildings.
Playa Zahara is well known as a superb swimming spot, and the shallow, transparent blue waters teamed with pristine white sand make it the perfect beach for families with small children.
It’s also famous for its spectacular sunsets – rumoured to be some of the most impressive in the province.
Locals often take to the sand of an evening to watch the sun sink over the ocean and keep an eye out for the distinctive green flash -an optical phenomenon that occurs shortly after dawn or dusk – staining the sky as the light fades.
The small town of Zahara de Los Atunes abounds in shabby-chic, bohemian charm and is home to a variety of stylish restaurants and independent fashion boutiques.
The town is named after atún – tuna- and the fish features heavily on the menus of the surrounding eateries.
If you’re after sampling some for yourself, stop in at El Refugio – a fabulous beach bar with views over the ocean- and try the grilled atún rojo.
Alternatively, head into town and grab a bite at an elegant seafood restaurant Ramón Pipi– a popular spot amongst the locals. The clams in white wine sauce are to die for!
5.) El Palmar
Known as the Surf Capital of Andalucia due to its frequent high winds and impressive waves, El Palmar is a long, straight stretch of beach spanning 4 kilometres, located a short drive from the charming coastal town of El Cónil.
It is accessed by a series of elegant wooden walkways leading down to the picture-perfect white sand.
El Palmar continues to remain below the radar of most tourists, frequented instead by Spaniards from around the country.
The windswept beach is overlooked by a grassy strip lined with bohemian beach bars and small, independent shops selling surfing gear, handmade jewellery and clothes.
If you’re in the mood for a low-key lunch, head to El Palmar institution La Cervecería. This popular local bar is a great spot to snack on fresh prawns washed down with ice-cold beer,
If you fancy something more formal, try Casa Francisco. This traditional restaurant is famous for its delicious, fresh seafood.
Be sure to sample the mouthwatering rice dishes, such as arroz negro – black rice- with grilled squid and prawns.
6.) Las Calas de Roche
If you’re looking for the best beaches in Cádiz away from the crowds, then head for Las Calas de Roche!
At the Southern limit of Urbanizacion Roche – an exclusive residential development with its own beach – loom red cliffs, which undulate at intervals to form a series of secluded coves.
Accessing these coves is tricky – involving navigating a dirt road before descending a steep flight of wooden steps to the shoreline – but the rewards are worth the effort!
There are numerous coves dotted between the cliffs, including Cala del Aspero, Cala del Pato Roche and Cala del Encendida Roche.
The inconvenience of the entrance means many visitors bypass these hidden beaches in favour of the more easily accessible ones, which means you could wind up having a cove all to yourself!
After all, what’s better than your own private beach?
Remember, these coves are off the beaten track with no facilities nearby, so it’s best to pack a picnic and plenty of water to see you through the day!
7.) Playa La Fontanilla
The pretty town of Cónil de La Frontera is a popular summer destination for visitors seeking to base themselves near some of the best beaches in Cádiz.
But you don’t have to go far to find some sea and sand – Cónil has its very own stunning beach, Playa La Fontanilla, a short walk from the town centre.
Perfect for families, this beach is close to nearby facilities such as showers, toilets and lifeguard stations and has clear, shallow waters ideal for little ones to splash in at low tide.
It’s also not far to walk to find a spot of lunch – Francisco la Fontanilla restaurant is located directly alongside the beach and enjoys wonderful views from its bright, airy dining room.
With its proximity to the sea, it’s no surprise that fresh seafood is its main fayre and plenty of dishes on the menu take the local speciality – tuna – as their star ingredient.
8.) La Barrosa
Situated a short drive from the town of Chiclana, La Barrosa is a family-friendly beach renowned for its sparkling white sands and pristine blue waters.
Awarded blue-flag status for excellence and named by the Telegraph Newspaper as one of “Spain’s Best Beaches”, La Barrosa is also famous for its water sports facilities.
Its choppy Atlantic waters teamed with the distinctive high winds – levante– that Cádiz is known for make La Barrosa the ideal spot for kitesurfing and wind sailing.
The large beach is divided into sections depending on your mood – a bustling family area with plenty of beach bars giving way to quieter virgin sands, the ideal spot to relax in peace and quiet.
If you fancy staying nearby for lunch, Atenas Playa is an upmarket, stylish beach bar with fantastic views and fresh, modern food. It’s also the perfect spot to catch the sunset with a cocktail!
Alternatively, modern tapas bar El Arból offers a range of excellent fusion dishes such as tuna tartar and bite-sized hamburgers.
It’s located an 8-minute walk from the beach, so not far to stagger when the hunger kicks in!
9.) Playa de Los Lances
Starting in the achingly cool town of Tarifa and stretching north towards the cork forests of Alcornocales natural park, Playa de Los Lances is one of the most popular beaches in Cádiz.
Often seen dotted with kite surfers when the wind picks up, the expansive 10km stretch of yellow sand retains a wild and unspoilt feel due to the lack of nearby development.
Tarifa is famously the point where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean converge – walk along the peninsula dividing Playa los Lances from the neighbouring Playa Chica and you will see a different ocean on either side.
Whereas Playa Chica offers limpid Mediterranean waters perfect for bathers, the wilder Atlantic waters to be found on the rugged Playa los Lances attract adrenaline junkies seeking water sports.
When it comes to beachside eating, if you’re in the mood for an upmarket lunch, Michelin-starred chef Dani Garcia recently opened Bibo Beach House on nearby beach Valdevaqueros, a 13-minute drive from Los Lances.
Food is beautifully presented fusion tapas and the restaurant also benefits from its own private car park.
If you’d prefer to head off the beach for lunch, stylish modern restaurant Mic Moc is located a five-minute walk from Los Lances in the harbour and specialises in tasty, innovative dishes with a wide selection of vegetarian options.