The "Real" Costa Tropical
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Last Updated: Jun 20th, 2007 - 05:23:07 

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Regions & Cities
The "Real" Costa Tropical
By Martin Bright
Jun 7, 2007, 06:20

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Over recent years, thanks in the main to marketing, promotional tours and travel magazines, there has been a rapid expansion of and interest in the 60km coastline of Granada province, today popularly known as the “Costa Tropical” – to the extent that this almost mythical area has now quadrupled in size. Tropicana Properties was here before this situation began to take hold, so who best to provide you with a clearer picture of the “real” Costa Tropical.

La Herradura
Currently the area covers the coastline of the province of Granada. East of Malaga, passing Nerja and the Peña Escrita-Cerro Gordo nature reserve, we come to the first stop on the journey, La Herradura. This quiet seaside village, famed for its deep horseshoe bay and the spectacular rocky headlands of Cerro Gordo to the west and Punto de la Mona to the east. La Herradura, a small village offers a primary school, cultural centre, municipal market, health centre, bars, shops and restaurants as well as surfboarding there is a host of professional diving schools attracting many visitors in search of the wonders hidden beneath the Mediterranean. Punta de la Mona is home to many of the world’s most discrete, and private millionaires. Their stunning designer properties clinging to the hillside, at night twinkling just below the light of the light house that guides you to Marina del Este; a picturesque leisure port with more than 200 moorings and a host of bars and restaurants to welcome weary skippers and tourists alike.

Just 4kms east along the coast we arrive in Almuñecar, a large town with over 30,000 inhabitants and yet comprising a growing international populace. Unlike other towns along the Costa del Sol, here the local population remains Spanish (a little less than 90%); and consequently you arrive feeling touched by the “real” Spain experience. The resort continues to be very popular with Spanish tourists from Madrid, Seville, Jaen and Granada, and this adds both to the charm and energy of Almuñecar. Here you will find all the facilities expected in a town – health centre, civil and criminal courts, cultural centres, schools and colleges, hotel and tourism services and even an established International School. The old town is crowned by the San Miguel castle, and with its network of Moorish narrow streets, small bazaars and boutiques is an attractive “buy” for romantics of all ages. The green area (or “vega”) that surrounds the town is privileged by the micro-climate that serves our fertile lands. Lands which until the turn of the last century provided much needed grain harvests and sugar canes for the cities of Granada and Malaga; but now serve many European homes their custard apples and avocadoes. It is easy to understand why then, that over centuries it has become a source of conquest for numerous civilisations throughout history, from the earliest Phoenecians in 800BC to the Romans and Moors; indeed a leisurely walk around the town and into the countryside leaves you stunned by the evidence of the distant past. The “sexitanos” (Almunecar was named “Sexi” during Phoenician) also boast to provide the tourist with more than 25 beaches stretching over 19km of coastline!

Inland, and just an easy 15 minutes drive we enter the sleepy typical Andalucian white washed villages perched along the Rio Verde. Jete and Otivar both cling to the vital waters of the river and natural springs that abound in this stunningly green valley; while further into the mountains the sleepy village of Lentegi looks over them and down towards the sea. Here nestles the real Tropical valley… and the birthplace of what has now been deemed the Costa Tropical. Here Tropical plants and fruits seem to thrive on the air, the abundant natural spring water, the warm (all-year!) attentive sunlight and, not forgetting, those wild, high mountain peaks that surround helping to protect the young fruits from the harsh winds of Spring and Autumn.

East of Jete, and a 3km drive over the mountains drops you into the other valley at the foothills of the Sierra del Chaparral. Here, beneath the mountains, the villages of Itrabo, Molvizar and Lobres offer travelers a step back in time. These communities in the main remain largely rural based; and the surrounding hills blend together the traditional relaxed almond, avocado and olive cultivations peppered with the more intensive farming of vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes in vast plastic sheeted housing. However, in the not too distant future, all this is predicted to change as the area attracts growing numbers of tourists. In the next 5 years the continuation of the Mediterranean motorway will pass through the valley – connecting and reducing travel times to Granada and the coast. This is already evidence in the development of new holiday complex style housing being built in Itrabo and Lobres, offering more affordable holiday accommodations with modern facilities, communal pools and gardens to a growing market of second-home buyers both in Spain’s home market and from other parts of Europe.

Salobreña, at 10kms east of Almuñecar, is a typical Andalucian pueblo perched on a vast rocky crag – known locally as Gran Penon (the big point). Atop of this sits the ruined Moorish castle once the winter palace of the Kings of the Alhambra; one of the World’s top Unesco sites located in Granada city and a “must see” for any traveler to the area. Around the castle the typical white-washed village cascades down to the surrounding sugar cane fields and Tropical fruit plantations. The village itself retains much of its Medieval past, and the neighbourhoods of Albaycin, de la Loma, el Brocal and la Fuente still retain their charm, maintaining the original town labyrinthine layout of passages, arches and narrow winding streets within the old remnants of the ancient town walls. It is the home every March to a Medieval traditional fair that attracts street performers and local producers to share in their fascinating heritage. Below the town lies the extensive sandy beach, lined with apartments and houses that in the summer months attract many a Spanish holidaymaker. At the far end, near to the border with Motril, lies the areas main golf centre – the 18 hole Los Moriscos course – that attracts an International clientele all year round. Though a quieter town for most of the year, it is much smaller than Almunecar, it nevertheless attracts many nationalities in search of quality homes with stunning views: making Monte de los Almendros and Alfamar urbanisations a popular choice for retirement or holiday location.

At the end of our journey along the Costa Tropical we find Motril. Famed for being Granada provinces second city, the town hosts a busy commercial centre, hypermarket, and is home to coasts main hospital: Santa Ana. To the south of the town we find the two main beaches; Playa Poniente, which is well served with tourist facilities and good local seafood restaurants, and the quieter Playa Granada. Between them lies the busy port which while in the main is commercial has recently been occupied by International cruise liners whose overnight stops offer a perfect drop-off point for visitors to Granada’s Alhambra palace and Generalife gardens, and also the nearby scenery of the Alpujarras. The marina, popular as a mooring for many ex-pats who find the exclusivity and expense of the fashionable Marina del Este too much too bear, also provides a range of water sports and boat excursions including trips over to Morocco. Motril is protected by the Sierra de Lujar mountain range and is considered to be the capital of the Tropical Coast, recognised as one of the most lush and productive agricultural areas in Spain it also provides a natural outlet for the products of la Alpujarra and the Valle de Lecrin.

For information about property in the Costa Tropical area, contact Tropicana Properties

© Copyright 2007 by & Martin Bright

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