From beach to beach along the coast of Huelva (II): from Ayamonte to Vila Real


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At 636 kilometers from the computer from where these lines are being written, the second part of the route begins along the Huelva coast, the almost inhospitable Costa de la Luz de Huelva.

The last thing Christopher Columbus could see on the peninsula before leaving for the Americas from Palos de la Frontera, across Punta Umbría. Many have been able to imagine, from the towel, how the three caravels crossed ahead on the way to a New World. Caravels full of sailors from the villages of this route.

As a Christopher Columbus of the 21st century, and with the car as a vehicle, driving with the companion Atlantic remains appetizing. Because after leaving Punta Umbría, El Portil or El Rompido, what continues has a slight fado flavor.

El Portil

We leave El Portil behind to continue our route with the Atlantic as a faithful travel companion © iStock

The last villages before arriving in Portugal still have Andalusian white houses and beaches where silence reigns, so it is necessary to make a stop.

For example? La Redondela Beach, to which many came through the pines with a horse carriage back in the 60s. It is no longer what it was, but it is still one of those hidden corners of white sand that are worthwhile go

Nearby, on farms like Monterreina, foreigners from countries like the United Kingdom or even Japan have their piece of paradise with a slight Andalusian flavor and orange smell. You just have to shop around to check. There the neighbors speak in English and it is the perfect place to rest the last days.

Meanwhile, Madrid and Castilians let themselves be rocked by the waves of the Islantilla beach, full of hotels and urbanizations for their rest.

The beaches of Huelva, after all, are more familiar compared to its neighboring Cádiz or the funky Algarve.

Isla Cristina

The evening light illuminates the fishing boats on the pier of Isla Cristina © Getty Images

And where are families going to eat, both local and non-local? To the tuna paradise, a few kilometers from this town.

The route has a gastronomic stop worth mentioning in an entire paragraph. In Isla Cristina there is Casa Rufino, temple of this fish since 1956.

José Antonio Zaiño, his wife Anita and part of the family also in front are renowned for their cuisine, which highlights the fool, with eight tastings of different fish. If you want to opt for one, better be advised by the chef and his family - Isla Cristina for a lifetime. Although tuna is mandatory, of course.

Ayamonte alt=

Ayamonte, a town with an essential Andalusian flavor on our route along the coast of Huelva © Getty Images

Once we have a full stomach, and with the best gastronomic recommendation in the area, it is time to stop in Ayamonte.

As a small Huelva, but with a port, this town with great architectural grace is a town of popular joy in each of its beautiful squares.

Its buildings, faced by the Guadiana with the Portuguese coast, defend with salt shaker that it is an Andalusian town. And often town.

It welcomes you and says goodbye with melancholy, like the song that María Dolores Pradera sang.

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The picturesque historic center of Ayamonte © Getty Images

And referring to his song, although Portugal is already the neighboring country, it is impossible not to cross the imposing bridge that separates us to know the first villages of the Algarve.

It is mandatory excursion to spend the afternoon in Vila Real de Santo Antonio and buy a towel or a sheet.

And beware, because here the wicker baskets that are trending have been selling for years. Before, the Huelva grandparents crossed the river by boat to buy coffee and tobacco at better prices. Now the excursion with motorized vehicle continues with the excuse of renovating some corner of the beach house and the own home.

Casa Caravela, on the main street of this fishing village, is the best known store.

Vila Real de San Antonio

Vila Real de San Antonio welcomes the neighboring country © Getty Images

On this street, arranged a few years ago, they share awning design franchises, coffee shops in the area with English menus and shops with endless sheets and towels.

Many still have their bedding embroidered with their wedding trousse from these small shops, where modernity refuses to take center stage.

Its square, its tile houses, its hustle and bustle any weekend, make this pearl of the Guadiana shine that welcomes the Spaniard who crosses the border.

Vila Real de San Antonio

Vila Real de San Antonio Lighthouse © Wikimedia Commons (with CC license)

Following the route, and if you prefer to stop to eat reading the menu in Portuguese, there is another one of those places that remains intact with the passage of time and with its food more than delicious.

9.5 kilometers from Vila Real, and across the tourist town of Monte Gordo, is Altura and there is A Cheminé, which has been feeding Spanish and Portuguese for years.

Their rice, their cod and their exorbitant portions - a pechá of eating - but tasty would make anyone who appreciates the homemade food cry of happiness.

And they make many skip several villages along the route just to sit and eat at their white tablecloth tables. Maybe the place is not the most instagrameable, but it doesn't matter. Empty gut, heart without joy.

A Cheminé

'Surprise de chevre' by A Cheminé, in Height © A Cheminé

And to finish the route, because Tavira already feels somewhat distant - although if you can, it is worth walking through its streets - Cacela Velha.

At the top of a small hill, this town of white streets, blue touches, and remains of Moroccan locality, seems to remind us for a moment of Tarifa, or the distant Tangier.

In fact, between its streets it is counted as Cacela Velha, overlooking the Formosa River, it was an Arab medina.

An advice? Enjoy the views, feel the breeze of the Atlantic, and get lost on the path that leads to the shore of the beach … A walk of cacti and wild plants that make you feel like an explorer about to discover something.

And when you arrive, feel how calm and the Atlantic embrace you with Portuguese sotaque.


Ría Formosa

The Ria Formosa Natural Park, one of the most fascinating landscapes in the Algarve © Getty Images