With a port that’s the busiest on the Costa del Sol, Malaga is frequented by cruise liners, private sailing vessels and motorboats alike. It’s a great starting point from which to explore the coastline on either side of the city, whether you prefer developed resorts or pristine beaches. Here’s our pick of the best places to visit from Malaga by boat, from the buzzing shores of Torremolinos in the west to the low-key charm of La Cala del Moral to the east.
Point your compass along the Costa del Sol coastline.
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Point your boat west of Malaga and the first marina you’ll find will land you into Benalmadena, the town of choice for many expatriates on the Costa del Sol. Step ashore to explore the lively chiringuito (beach bar) scene off the Santa Ana and Carihuela beaches, or head to Playa Malapesquera next to the marina for a game of volleyball. If you’re all beached out, walk to the cable car station and take a dizzying 15-minute ride to the top of Mount Calamorro for some awe-inspiring views.
Leaving the boat in Benalmadena, head north to visit Torremolinos, one of Malaga’s major resorts. Reached with a fifteen-minute taxi ride, it’s home to Crocodile Park, where you can meet 5km (16ft)-long Gran Paco, Europe’s largest croc, or there are some smaller specimens if the thought of a giant reptile fills you with fear. Spread over 7km (4mi), the town’s six beaches range from parasol-packed Playa Bajondillo to the quieter sands of Playa Guadalmar, the only nude beach within the Malaga region.
If you’re after a little culture, glide into Fuengirola and disembark for Sohail Castle. Occupying a hilltop from which enemies could be easily spotted, this historic landmark dates from the twelfth century and was significantly enlarged in the late 1400s. It’s also the setting for two of the region’s top events – a beer festival in July and a medieval market the following month. Anyone not up for a historical interlude can chill on one of the town’s several beaches.
Puerto de Cabopino
There aren’t many spots on Malaga’s western coastline where nature holds court over beach bars and paved promenades, but Artola-Cabopino is one of them. Found on the west side of Puerto de Cabopino marina is a stretch of beach that has been saved from urbanization. The golden stretch of sand sits within the Dunas de Artola nature preserve and there is a nudist beach too. This area is also the site of the Costa del Sol’s tallest watchtower. The 15m (49ft)-high Torre Ladrones or Thieves Tower was built in the 1400s to keep an eye out for pirates and today it makes for a great subject for keen photographers.
The east coast of Malaga is less geared towards tourism than the western side, as is evident from its few-and-far-between marinas. The first you’ll reach is El Candado, home to an intimate pebble cove served by the Candado Beach chiringuito, where you can sip cocktails and nibble tapas from Balinese-style beds and wicker sofas. If time allows, take a 35-minute walk or hop in a taxi to Pedregalejo beach, where skewers of sardines (espetos) are cooked in boat-shaped BBQs on the sand.
Peñón del Cuervo
Playa Peñón del Cuervo makes for a picturesque sight, with a golden swathe of sand and a giant rock, or penon, jutting out of the glistening waters. This stretch of coast is also a protected area owing to the presence of the Malaga houseleek, an endangered plant species. Stroll for ten minutes along the boardwalk from the El Candado marina and you’ll reach a zone equipped with several brick barbecues and wooden bench tables – the perfect spot to enjoy some grilled meat or fish with ice-box beers. The beach is also a popular spot for informal evening gatherings known as moragas.
La Cala del Moral
Rarely featured on tourist hit-lists, La Cala del Moral offers a typical east coast Malaga experience. It’s a small working town with a spacious beach and a buzzing main square, Plaza Gloria Fuertes, which is framed by bars serving inexpensive drinks, tapas and main courses (raciones). If you’re there on a Friday, head to Calle Maspalomas to browse a street market selling everything from fruit and veg to clothing and footwear. A six-minute taxi ride from the El Candado marina will get you into town.
Caleta de Velez
Apart from El Candado, Caleta de Velez is east Malaga’s only other marina and is worth visiting for its fish market (lonja), one of the best on the Costa del Sol. Continuing on the nautical theme, bob over to the popular seafront restaurant Eclipse, where you can try the Malagueño speciality pescaito frito, which consists of a heaped sharing platter of fried squid, cod and prawns. West of the port, the beach runs uninterrupted to the modern resort town of Torre del Mar, taking around 40 minutes on foot.
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