CARBONERAS

Cabo de Gata
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Welcome to Carboneras

Carboneras is located in the north-eastern corner of the Cabo de Gata Nature Park, just 45 min away from Almeria Airport. Approximately 8,000 residents call Carboneras home. While the town is quite small by most standards, it is one of the largest in the Cabo area. With a great selection of new and stylish hotels, Carboneras makes a great base for exploring the nature park and its impressive beaches. The famous Playa de los Muertos is only a 10-min drive away. But Carboneras itself has 4km of sandy beaches. The beach promenade is lined with bars and restaurants – the perfect place to relax when you want a break from the sun.

Seaside promenade in Carboneras – Cabo de Gata, Spain
Seaside promenade

Looking at Carboneras’ landscape today, it is difficult to imagine that at one time it was covered with trees – but it actually was! In fact, the name Carboneras comes from the 16th century when several furnaces where built in the area to make charcoal from local lumber. It was then loaded onto ships, many of which were destined for the coast of northern Africa.

The production of charcoal brought a lot of prosperity to the area which had been sparsely populated due to its isolated location. In the 19th and 20th centuries the main economic activity changed to the cultivation of esparto grass which was exported to England and used for the production of paper. Around this time the fishing industry started to develop as well.

Today, tourism is just one of the several industries within Carboneras. Although it is surrounded on all sides by the Cabo de Gata Nature Park, it is technically not part of it. Because of this, it does have a rather large industrial area that is home to a cement factory, a thermal power station, a fish farm and one of Europe’s largest desalinization plants.

Town hall building in Carboneras – Cabo de Gata, Spain
Town hall building

Beaches in the town of Carboneras

Stretching from Playa de los Muertos in the south to Playa del Algarrobico to the north, Carboneras has a lot of beaches – 17km of them to be exact. None of the beaches outside of the town have any amenities. However, the 4km of beaches next to the urban zone do have them. There you can expect to find parking, lifeguards, bathrooms & showers, shaded areas, trash cans, etc.

Bars & restaurants along the beachfront promenade – Carboneras, Cabo de Gata
Bars & restaurants along the beachfront promenade

PLAYA DE LAS MARINICAS & PLAYA DE CUEVA ALTA

  • 1.3km long | fine sand
  • Located south of downtown Carboneras, between the fishing and industrial port
  • Have all basic amenities but are quieter than the other beaches in town
  • Great for families with children because of its shallow waters, sport facilities & playgrounds
  • One end is beautiful (looking into town), at the other end is the industrial port
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PLAYA DE LOS COCONES Y BARQUICOS

  • 600m long | fine gold sand
  • Located next to the traditional fishing neighborhood of Los Cocones
  • It’s normal to see small fishing boats resting on its sand
  • Great for families with children because of its shallow waters and variety of beach sports around (football, volleyball, etc.)
  • Hotel Las Palmas is located here right next to the beach
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PLAYA EL ANCÓN

  • 1.5 km long | fine golden sand
  • Together with Playa de los Cocones y Barquicos, it’s the most frequented beach in town
  • Fully equipped
  • Great snorkeling in the calm crystal clear waters
  • Surrounded by a promenade with plenty of bars/restaurants
  • Offers great views of the Torre del Rayo (lightning tower)
  • Hotel Trébol is located next to this beach
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PLAYA LOS RONCAORES

  • Located on the north end of town, pass Playa del Ancón
  • Quieter beach
  • Hotel CH Cabo de Gata is located next to this beach
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Beaches South of Carboneras

PLAYA DE LOS MUERTOS

Views of Playa de los Muertos from the lookout point – Cabo de Gata, Spain
Playa de los Muertos
  • 1.2 km long | small pebbles
  • The most famous beach in Cabo de Gata
  • It’s necessary to park and then walk downhill for 15 min to reach the beach
  • Features a huge free standing rock and beautiful water
  • Nudism is common
Link to full guide about Playa de los Muertos  FULL GUIDE TO PLAYA DE LOS MUERTOS

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PLAYA DE LA TORRE VIEJA & PLAYA DEL CORRAL

  • Both beaches are about 200 m long | gravel & thick sand
  • Located next to the industrial port
  • Undeveloped, no amenities
  • Parking right on the beach
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Beaches North of Carboneras

PLAYA DEL ALGARROBICO

Playa del Algarrobico – Carboneras, Cabo de Gata (Spain)
Playa del Algarrobico
  • 1.4 km long | golden sand & some stones
  • Located 4km north of Carboneras town
  • The first beach of the Cabo de Gata Nature Park
  • Great snorkeling
  • Nudism is common
  • In the early 2000’s the construction of a macro hotel started in this beach. After many local campaigns, the construction was stopped in 2003. Currently there are plans for its demolition
  • Used as movie set for Lawrence of Arabia (1962). A replica of the city of Áqaba in Jordan was built in the beach, made up by around 300 houses. Over 400 extras were hired & over 400 horses + over 150 camels were brought from the Sahara
  • Following the road a couple of kms north of Playa del Algarrobico is the Mirador de la Granatilla (Granatilla look out point) with great views over the beach
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CALA LA GALERA

Playa La Galera – Carboneras, Cabo de Gata (Almeria)
Playa La Galera
  • 800 m long | some dark sand but mostly pebbles
  • Located 2km north of Carboneras town
  • Undeveloped, no services or amenities
  • Great snorkeling
  • Located off the same dirt road that goes to the Torre del Rayo
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Top Accommodations in Carboneras

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What to Do in Carboneras

TORRE DEL RAYO

The Torre del Rayo (tower of lightning) is located just north of Carboneras town at the edge of a seaside cliff. You can climb to the top of it and enjoy some fantastic 360º views of the coastline including Carboneras, Playa del Algarrobico and the interior mountains.

The tower was built by the Moorish Nasrid dynasty to defend against pirate attacks. It is the oldest structure in Carboneras.

SAN ANDRÉS CASTLE

The castle is located in the center of Carboneras, next to the water. This military fortress was built in the 16th century to defend the town from pirates and Moorish attacks. You can walk through a couple of rooms with exhibitions – it is nothing extraordinary but since it is free, you can’t really complain. The terrace on top of the castle probably has great views and that alone would merit a stop, but unfortunately it is permanently closed.

MOLINO DE VIENTO DE VELA LATINA (LATIN SAIL WINDMILL)

Molino de Viento (Windmill) in Carboneras – Cabo de Gata, Spain
Molino de Viento (Windmill)

This original windmill is located in the center of town and is worth a visit. This type of windmill uses a cloth sail that was inherited from Mediterranean ships. It is different than the windmills found in La Mancha which used blades. The windmill houses a museum about mills and the local culture around them.

SAN ANDRÉS ISLAND

The little island in front of town can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the beach. It is a great place for snorkeling and diving.

Festivals in Carboneras

FIESTA DE MOROS Y CRISTIANOS

The festival is celebrated around June 13th in honor of San Antonio de Padua. During the festivity, locals stage a battle between Moor and Christian forces. It begins with Arab troops storming the beach, however, the Christians having already being alerted are there waiting for them and the battle ensues.

Besides concerts, there is also a procession with the image of San Antonio that travels throughout the town and ends at the San Andrés Castle.

FIESTAS DEL PESCADOR Y DEL TURISMO

The festival of the fisherman and tourism is celebrated on August 15th. The main activity is a marine procession in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. After the procession, the local fisherman invite everyone to enjoy a meal of sardines. This day of celebrations ends with an open-air mass.

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