The Genoveses beach: where the desert merges with the sea


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You are about to enter my favorite place in the world . So, please, treat it carefully because, despite the wild and rugged appearance, you walk through an extremely delicate landscape .

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The best beaches of Cabo de Gata

This is a strange land. It will not take long to realize. Here, the prickly pears, the pitas, the palmitos and the extinct volcanoes are the guards and custodians. Here, the silence of the desert precedes the water of the sea as if it were a solemn act of nature.

They say that this area is capable of stealing your soul and that it has no intention of making exceptions with anyone, so hold it tight or get ready to say goodbye to it and let it roam these places forever. But, quiet, nothing happens, mine has long fluttered among thrushes, bee-eaters, wrenches and the occasional kite.

Playa de los Genoveses

The nothing. Everything. © iStock

Los Genoveses beach is possibly the most famous of all those found in the Natural Park (on) of Cabo de Gata-Níjar ; that warm, fascinating and lunar-looking place that nature gave to the southern province of Almeria and, by the way, the entire world. The origin of its name comes from the invasion of a Genoese fleet that helped the Castilian troops in their fight against Muslims and landed there in the year 1, 147 in the framework of that campaign. Since then, the flag of the Almeria capital is the same as that of Genoa .

Formed by dunes of fine golden sand and with that Mediterranean Sea that embellishes everything, this wonderful beach is located 2 kilometers from the small and charming town of San José ; which I may talk about later, but first, let's go looking for what I consider my favorite corner of the planet.

Playa de los Genoveses

Pitas, owners and ladies of the place © iStock


The first thing is to get to San José . From Almeria capital, the distance is 39 km and the approximate duration of the trip is 42 min. To go to Los Genoveses beach, some indications in the town indicate where, as there is only one way to access. It will be then when you have to cross a dirt road flanked by windmills .

Look closely at them, they have become a characteristic silhouette of the landscape. But these "giants" are not like those who, in La Mancha, made the gentleman lose his mind. At least not their roofs and blades .

The roofs that covered these mills were rotating to face the blades in the wind and moved by a large beam that, in many cases, came from the masts of ships, some of them shipwrecked. And their blades were composed of triangular sails like those of ships. A beautiful recycling exercise where the sea seems to be the origin of everything.

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During the summer months, between June 15 and September 16, access to this area of ​​the Natural Park by car is quite restricted, as the increase in road traffic is an environmental degradation factor in these enclaves of high ecological value .

So if you want to go with your own vehicle, it is best to get up early, or take the bus that, from San José, takes you to Los Genoveses beach and its two beautiful little sisters: Mónsul and Cala de la Media Luna . If not, you can always go by bicycle or walk.

However you go to access it, enjoy, also, the road that takes you to this virgin bay, it smells like dust, steppe vegetation, esparto and sea salt. Once you have put your feet on the ground, the only way to get to the beach is to walk through a wild path between dunes of fine yellow sand and wild flora from which you could already start enjoying the magnificent views of the cove and the Morrón de los Genoveses, an 85-meter-high volcanic promontory that is proclaimed an almost indisputable icon of the place.

Al fondo, el morrón de los Genoveses

In the background, the sweet pepper of the Genoves © Getty Images


Due to the almost always friendly climate of the place, any time of the year is good. But it is true that, in the summer months, the amount of visits this silent place receives is increasing.

Perhaps it is due to its crystalline water, that it still seems to remain a redoubt of tranquility, or that it is a place that invites nudism. As if we could imitate with the body the nakedness of the environment under the sun; with its dunes and ours mimicking with languor, while the wet and salty breeze rocks the hills and turns them into waves of sand where yellowish tones become owners of the place.

Dunas de la playa de los Genoveses

Dunes of the Genoves beach © Alamy

Out of season, when the tourist emptiness returns his usual peace, it seems to be transformed into a totally different universe . If there is a season of the year in which it is advisable to go it is with the arrival of spring, when the few rains that choose this moor as a destination have already made an appearance.

It is just then when the Natural Park displays a color palette so surprising that it is hard to believe that we are talking about a semi-desert place. Without knowing very well how, the land that seemed barren sees red fields of wild poppies grow and a green mantle unfolds with flowers so yellow and purple that they could well get Dorothy to confuse them with the landscapes of Oz.

Fuera de temporada las flores lo invaden todo

Out of season the flowers invade everything © Alamy

It is more than likely that, at this point of the year, you can not soak yourself even more, because the water does not invite you to splash in it if your foot bones hurt from how cold it is. So, then, June and September are the ideal months to get close, because the heat is still the usual and the sun itches even when the light falls, but tourism is not at its best and the Natural Park is discovered lonely and Much more appetizing .


Being a virgin place, do not expect to find beach bars on the beach - luckily . If you want to eat there, you have to be yourself who prepares the menu.

Fill your blue beach fridge with lots of ice so you can keep the gazpacho or salmorejo, the melon very cold and don't forget about the typical official sandwiches for the beach: the potato tortilla and the breaded loin, for example . Of course, remember that, when you leave, you should not leave a trace of your passage there, so collect all the waste and throw it where it is due.

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If the beach menu does not appeal to you, the variety of dining options take you out of the beach, so, take the car and go back on your steps that I recommend several places that will take you to know and fall in love with some villages of the zone.

Back in San José, Ristorante Pizzeria Gelateria Vittoria is my favorite option since my early childhood. Located on the small and cozy promenade, its terrace has beautiful views of the sea. For me, there is only one dish and one dessert to order: the 4 cheese pizza, as it has tiny bits of nuts on top; and chocolate and yogurt ice cream. Never has a yogurt ice cream been so good.

If what you want is to eat fresh and well-made fish, almost anywhere you will have a great experience, remember that you are on the land - more like the sea - of the red prawn of Garrucha, the gallant of Carboneras, the rooster pedro, of the little chicken or the rock brooch. And that the settlements that have been formed throughout history in the area are fishing villages.

Yes, those typical villages with their low whitewashed houses and where peace becomes overwhelming. One of them is the Isleta del Moro, a town known for its diving and its fresh fish. There, the Hogar del Pensionista, at the top of the town, is presented as an establishment that usually appears in backpackers' guides and that not everyone knows.

It may be strange that a retired bar is recommended, but the Pensioner's Home is mainly a very fresh fish restaurant and exquisite rice . Despite the name, you will not only find retired people, but the people of the town and the occasional tourist with the duties done go up there to enjoy an unforgettable meal overlooking the entire bay.

Isleta del Moro, perfecto para comer mirando al mar

Isleta del Moro, perfect to eat looking at the sea © Getty Images

A few minutes from San José is El Pozo de los Frailes, a small hamlet of white farmhouses with clear Arabian air and a landscape that brings us the memory of an ancient and serene Spain.

In its surroundings you can see hills of volcanic origin with gentle slopes that end in the cereal fields that surround the town. If there is a reference place in El Pozo ; for his cooking, his love for quality products and good rice dishes, that is La Gallineta Restaurant .

The kitchen, on the other hand, is not the protagonist in the Bartreze Sur, but nothing happens, since its menu is based on sausages, salads and other proposals that go more than good to accompany its delicious gin and tonics, vermouths and cocktails in one of the sunbeds from your shaded terrace.

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In Rodalquilar, where the remains of an old gold mine lie and saw Carmen de Burgos, the first woman journalist in Spain, grow and be; Eating also becomes a gift rather than a physiological necessity.

Above all, if it is done in the Oro y Luz Restaurant or in La Tasquilla, where they serve an excellent tuna, loin tartare, but also anchovies, shrimp, salmon, monkfish and croquettes.

I suppose that you have already realized that there are few things more wonderful than tapas in flip flops between volcanoes and deserts, so I encourage you to continue searching among the towns in the area for that magical place and that will surprise you, perhaps, with a salmorejo without bread, but using the apple as a thickener, like the one they serve in El Cinto in Rodalquilar.

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Spending at least one night in "cabogatero" territory should be mandatory for everyone. Hotels, hostels, farmhouses or campsites are all nice places to stay.

An example is the set of eight whitewashed houses with common pool that form La Posidonia, in Rodalquilar. Also there you can find the Hotel Los Patios, where luxury, tranquility, technology and the simplest pleasures - have an outdoor shower in each private patio - meet in the same space.

La Posidonia

What do you fancy? © La Posidonia

In San José is the Hostal El Dorado from which you can see the whole town, even while you take a bath in its pool.

And something further from Los Genoveses, in the beautiful town of Agua Amarga, Cortijo Los Malenos offers the experience of staying in an ecological farm that has been renovated respecting the landscape, being a beautiful avant-garde space that offers a range of activities that go From diving to astronomy.

If what you have in mind is, in fact, a campsite, Los Escullos will always be a wise choice.

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Never forget your diving goggles, because you bathe in calm waters, those that allow you to walk meters and meters on foot without covering over the navel; and so clear that you can see for yourself that hides gardens of posidonia and deserts submerged by those who swarm at home all kinds of unsuspected marine beings .

This beach is a refuge for them, the whole Natural Park is. For us, too. There is no noise, there are no hotels, there is no tourist exploitation, there is only pure and untamed nature in this film scene that was molded millions of years ago at the whim of lava, fire, sea and wind.

The sand that forms the bay is cinema, not only for its beauty, but for having served as a decoration for numerous films, among which The Wind and the Lion (1975), with Sean Connery as the protagonist. It would not be the last time that the actor stepped on this place, because in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) he devoted himself to scare seagulls with his black umbrella on the neighboring beach of Mónsul: "And suddenly I remembered what Charlemagne said: my armies are the rocks, and the trees, and the birds of the sky. "

Dunas de la playa de los Genoveses

A movie set © Alamy

Having a beach and mountains, trails and spectacular seabed, if you are an athlete you will find in the area a number of options for sports if that being lying so many hours in the sun ends up depleting you. The area offers, for example, a series of routes with such poetic names as The Route of the Volcanoes and the Flowers .

For those who feel overwhelmed to discover that they walk on the valley of the ancient crater of a volcano, they can go to the La Casa de los Volcanes ecomuseum , located in an old building called PAF House (Precipitation, Tuning and Foundry), dedicated to the exploitation of gold ore in Rodalquilar, until the closure of the mine in 1966. Visiting it is to take an unusual geological walk that brings the visitor to know and interpret the landscapes of the Geopark of Cabo de Gata and its particular geological personality in the context of the extraordinary Andalusian geodiversity.

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You can also go to the village of Las Negras, inhabited almost exclusively by fishermen and the occasional hippie that has made the Natural Park their lair; and have a drink at sunset in La Bodeguiya - yes, with “y” - .

Or leave the sea a little behind and visit Níjar, where the local artisans, the few who are already left, continue to elaborate their typical pottery, their jarapas in the heavy looms and manually working the esparto, that much war and disease brought to the eyes of Almeria and that made us win the misunderstood nickname of "legañosos."

A shared publication of Abe The Ape (@abetheapedeco) on Jun 5, 2016 at 11:09 PDT
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The best beaches of Cabo de Gata