Wild pristine beaches, many small coves, crystal clear Mediterranean Sea waters, nature almost untouched by human hands, breathtaking views from countless viewpoints, charming small villages, old fortresses and watchtowers, relaxed atmosphere… All of that, and so much more, is waiting for you in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, one of the most unspoiled corners of Europe. Believe us, this place and its beautiful postcard-like scenery will enchant you! In this post, we’ll show you amazing places in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, perfect for a one-day trip from Almeria. Vamos!
Note. We’ll show you places we visited, and places we wanted to see but we didn’t have more time and energy. Feel free to choose those that appeal to you most to prepare for your perfect trip to Cabo de Gata. If you want to see all of the mentioned places, or even more, we suggest you stay in the area for at least 3 days.
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About Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park (es. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata-Níjar) is a protected natural area located near Almeria City in Andalusia, Spain. It was founded in 1987, which makes it Andalucia’s first Maritime-Terrestrial protected park. In 1997 the area was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and in 2015 UNESCO World Geopark. It’s the largest protected coastal area in Andalusia, where all development is strongly regulated, guaranteeing the maximum preservation of the area.
In Cabo de Gata you’ll find only a few small remote villages and not many roads. Because of that countless intact and non-touristy places are there to explore. There you’ll find some of the best beaches in Spain, marvelous rock formations, calm sea waters perfect for swimming or scuba diving, and unique flora and fauna. Cabo de Gata can also offer you dozens of hiking trails and peaceful places where you can just sit, relax and admire the views.
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is the perfect destination if you want to connect with nature, explore off-beaten places, or just spend your holidays in remote and peaceful surroundings without the loud and busy nightclubs in sight.
Fun fact: Cabo de Gata landscapes served to create backdrops for some movies! Most famous include: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, or “For a Few Dollars More”.
One-Day Trip From Almeria To Cabo De Gata-Nijar Natural Park
There are many amazing places to explore in Cabo De Gata-Nijar Natural Park. Let’s start with the ones we’ve seen. We started our trip in Carboneras village and finished at Playa de Monsul.
Playa de los Muertos
Playa de los Muertos (eng. Los Muertos Beach, Beach of the Dead) is one of the most famous and iconic beaches in Cabo De Gata. Many consider it to be one of the best beaches in Spain! It’s a 1.2km long pristine beach, mostly filled with small pebbles, featuring a huge standalone rock formation (in our opinion resembling a reptile’s face, some kind of turtle or lizard). Crystal-clear water has a beautiful light blue shade and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
You won’t find any facilities on Playa de los Muertos – there are no bathrooms, no restaurants or shops, no lifeguards. So be sure to bring everything you need with you.
How to get to Playa de los Muertos? The beach is located under a cliff and access to it isn’t very easy or pleasant. From the parking lot, you need to walk down for about 15 minutes. You can choose between two paths. The main path starts near the information point and is the easiest one, although also the longest. The second path starts at the end of the parking area and is steeper, and shorter. Unfortunately, if you have mobility issues, you probably won’t be able to go down.
Before you head down to the beach we suggest you admire it from the viewpoint located near the parking lot, Mirador de la Playa de los Muertos. In our opinion, the beach looks most impressive from it!
One more thing left to clarify… Why does such a beautiful beach have such a gloomy name (reminder: Playa de los Muertos = Beach of the Dead)? Its name comes after numerous dead bodies from shipwrecks that the sea currents dragged to this beach.
Carboneras is a charming and vibrant town located only 6km from Playa de los Muertos. It’s one of the biggest towns in the area full of hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and small shops. Technically, it’s not a part of Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park but it’s just surrounded by it on all sides. Thanks to that, you’ll spot quite a large industrial area there.
So why are we even writing about Carboneras town? We really enjoyed it and we think it deserves some recognition. Once a small fishing village, now a town that can be proud of its
beautiful beaches, a long promenade with stunning sea views, and a pleasant old town.
In Carboneras you’ll find points of interest like San Andres Castle which served a defensive purpose during pirate attacks, Carboneras historic mill, beach promenade, and 17km of beautiful beaches. Only in the ones closest to the town center, like Playa de Carboneras or Playa de Los Cocones, you’ll find amenities like bathrooms, showers, or lifeguards. None of the beaches outside of the town have any.
Playa Los Escullos
Playa Los Escullos (eng. Los Escullos Beach) is a nice and wide beach that mostly stands out thanks to the fossil sand dune and unique arc formation. From the beach, you can admire great views over the Sierra del Cabo de Gata mountain range. Among the mountains, there is El Fraile, the highest peak in the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park of volcanic origin. In the area, you’ll also find Saint Philip Castle, two restaurants, and a hotel.
Mirador de La Amatista
Mirador de La Amatista (eng. Viewpoint of La Amatista) offers one of the best views in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park. From it, you can admire beautiful views over the coast, cliffs, the small seaside town of Isleta del Moro, and El Fraile, the highest mountain in the park. Viewpoint was built on the site of the former watchtower.
Playa de los Genoveses
Playa de los Genoveses (eng. Genoveses Beach) is one of the most popular beaches in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park. It’s a wide 1.2km long beach, filled with dark golden sand, calm shallow waters, and pristine landscapes completely untouched by men. There you also won’t find any amenities so don’t forget to bring any stuff you might need. Visiting Playa de los Genoveses is definitely one of the best day trip ideas from Almeria to Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park.
Interesting fact: the beach is named after the Genovese fleet that in 1147 took shelter there, before supporting Spanish troops reconquering Almeria.
How to get to Playa de los Genoveses? The beach is located only about 3km from San Jose town, and to get there you need to follow a gravel road. You can do that by car, by bike, or on foot which takes about 40 minutes. During high season you can also reach the beach by bus, which runs every 30min from 9AM to 9PM.
If you travel by car, keep in mind that during high season, access to the beach by car is limited and as soon as the parking is full, the road is closed and after that, the only way to get to the beach is by foot, bike or public bus. Parking is located relatively close to the beach, about 150m. During high season parking is paid and costs €5/day (June 2023), and is free the rest of the year.
Playa de Monsul
Playa de Monsul (eng. Monsul Beach) is one more amazing beach in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, located only 4km further from Playa de los Genoveses. It’s relatively small, only about 300m long, and filled with dark sand. Standalone rock, crystal blue waters, cliffs, massive sand dunes, and mountains in the background create an impressive view. Playa de Monsul is one more pristine beach with no amenities, ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving.
Interesting fact: some scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie were shot there!
How to get to Playa de Monsul? The beach is located further on the same unpaved road that Playa de los Genoveses, about 5km from Sam Jose town. The parking lot is located about 300 meters from the beach and it’s paid for during high season. Entry rules work exactly the same as for Genoveses Beach, so please read them above.
San Jose is a small beach town located in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, right at the entrance to the road leading to the famous Playa de Monsul and Playa de los Genoveses. Many travelers choose this city as a base for discovering the area. What is there to do? Not much to be honest – wandering among whitewashed houses, eating in one of many restaurants, shopping, sunbathing on the beaches, or swimming in the sea.
The main town’s beach, Playa de San Jose, is nice but definitely not as spectacular as others in Cabo de Gata. It’s about 250m long, filled with nice golden sand. Its advantage? Some people will certainly appreciate the presence of amenities and access for people with reduced mobility. Disadvantage? It can get very crowded during the high season!
More places to see in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park
There are many more stunning beaches, bays, viewpoints, and small villages in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park that we didn’t manage to visit. We miscalculated how much time we’ll spend in each spot, the ones above took us much longer than we expected and we simply had to skip some others. You’ll find them below.
If you’re planning on staying longer than a day or two in Cabo de Gata we recommend you open Google Maps and look for even more places that might interest you. Believe us, there are plenty of them!
Faro de Cabo de Gata & Mirador del Arrecife de las Sirenas
In the western part of the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, you’ll find a few more amazing spots worth visiting. Faro de Cabo de Gata (eng. Cabo de Gata lighthouse) and Mirador del Arrecife de las Sirenas (eng. Mermaids Viewpoint) deserve the most attention.
Mirador de las Sirenas offers spectacular views over unique spiky rock formations reaching out of the sea. Where did its name come from? Thanks to monk seals that used to live here and whose calls were mistaken by the sailors for mermaids’ songs. Next to Mirador de las Sirenas you’ll find the 18m high Cabo de Gata lighthouse, built in 1863. It’s still in use but isn’t open to visitors.
Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata
Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata (eng. Cabo de Gata salt flats) is another place worth visiting in the park. Those salt flats are the only ones still active in the region, producing about 40,000 tons of salt per year! You’ll find some viewpoints from which you can take a closer look at salinas.
The area is also inhabited by a wide variety of birds, both local and migratory. Thanks to it became a popular bird watching spot. Do you like flamingos? You’ll be glad to know that at Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata you’ll probably spot hundreds of them! Don’t forget your binoculars.
Las Negras is another small seaside village located in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park. It’s full of charming white houses, restaurants, hotels, and shops. Its main beach, Playa Las Negra, is about 650m long filled with dark sand and volcanic stones. Various facilities are provided.
Agua Amarga is a small seaside town with few restaurants, hotels, and shops. Its main beach, Playa Agua Amarga, is 550m long filled with fine dark gold sand and with basic amenities like toilets, lifeguards, and equipment rentals. Thanks to shallow and calm water it’s a perfect place for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle surfing, or scuba diving. Close to Agua Amarga you’ll find a secluded and peaceful beach Cala de Enmedio.
Torreon De Mesa Roldan
Torreon De Mesa Roldan is an 18th-century tower located only 5km from Agua Amarga town, and 2km from Playa de los Muertos you can get there by car, or hike for about 1 hour. It stands 200m a.s.l and offers amazing views over the surroundings. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you definitely should visit this place as the tower was used in 6th season.
Nijar has been named one of the most beautiful villages in Spain by the association of Los Pueblos Más Bonitos de España. This beautiful village is located inland, about 25km from the coast. It’s most famous for its long tradition of textiles and ceramics, especially colorful rugs known as jarapas. While there, take a long nice walk among its narrow whitewashed streets and visit one or two ateliers. You can also explore a butterfly garden – Mariposario de Nijar, and a botanical garden – Cactus Nijar.
Other things to do in Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park
In addition to a road trip across Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park and enjoying its amazing beaches you can go on a hike. There are many hiking trails available inside the park with different difficulty and lengths, but all with stunning views. Check out alltrails.com or komoot.com and find the perfect ones for yourself.
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is also a perfect place to enjoy water activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding. The best time for such activities is from May to October when the water is warmest. In the towns in the park, you’ll find water sports centers in which you can rent needed equipment or even buy a trip.
How to get to Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park from Almeria?
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is located close to Almeria City – its most western parts are only about 35km from it, and the furthest is about 70km.
To Cabo de Gata by car
Without a doubt, the best way to explore all the nooks and crooks of Cabo de Gata is by car. So if you’re not traveling by one, we recommend you rent one in Almeria.
Buses in Cabo de Gata
There are also some buses that drive throughout the park, but mostly between its towns so they won’t take you to all the amazing spots in the park. Also, they aren’t very frequent – you can check them out on cabogataalmeria.com website or rome2rio.com.
Cabo de Gata campings
If you’re traveling by camper, campings like Camping Cabo de Gata, Camping Los Escullos, Camping Albergue Tau, Camping Sopalmo, or Camping El Quinto might interest you. All of them are located inside the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park borders. While driving we also spotted a few campers parked in “wild spots”.
Day trip from Almeria to Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park – Summing up
As you’ve probably already noticed, Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is an amazing day trip idea from Almeria. But not only! It’s also an amazing place for holidays or a 2-3 day trip. Everyone who is looking for a getaway from bustling cities to chill among nature will be pleased. There are countless amazing places in the area, and we hope our post got you closer to choosing the ones you might like most. Have an amazing trip from Almeria to Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, and let us know which places impressed you most.