Located not far from Huelva, there is a museum dedicated to Cristopher Columbus and the discovery of America. Whether you are interested in history or not, you will surely enjoy the visit in this atmospheric place.
The museum is full of costumes, paintings and other items that vividly illustrate the atmosphere of the 15th century Spain. Of course, there are also 15th century travel documents, maps, navigation instruments, ship weapons and some insightful anecdotes that allow visitors to understand the ship-board life during Columbus’s voyages.
Columbus at work
The museum lies directly next to a small lagoon which is home to the exact full-size replicas of the 3 ships which Columbus used to his voyage to Americas in 1492. The place is called Muelle de las Carabelas. It is possible to get on board and explore the three caravelles in detail: the smallest Nina, the middle size Pinta and the biggest one, Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria. The walk aboard can be quite exciting as tourists are allowed to wander wherever they like.
Visiting Columbus Caravel Dock Museum is a great idea for a fun family day. It’s likely that small kids will be bored in the museum, but they should love the three vessels. Remember the museum and the ships dock are always closed on Mondays. Also if it’s rainy, the ships might be closed for safety reasons as the decks can be very slippery.
In the vicinity of Columbus museum lies the La Rabida, the Franciscan monastery where Columbus took refuge between 1491-92 waiting for his first voyage west, to Indies, which turned into the discovery of the New World.
It is possible to visit the place which consists of several rooms with artefacts and documents that relate to Columbus and his journey. The place has remained unchanged for more than 500 years – it’s very well preserved. The museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
If you are passionate about ornithology, make sure you visit Spanish Andalusia. The stretch of coast from Gibraltar to Huelva abounds in interesting places where migratory birds can be observed and photographed.
The best time to come is late autumn, when birds fly to Africa, and early spring when birds breed and embark on a journey to Northern Europe. Observe the weather forecast as well! For example, birds heading to Africa prefer Atlantic Poniente wind over the easterly Levante wind as the latter can easily push them towards the wide Atlantic.
MOST POPULAR BIRD WATCHING PLACES IN ANDALUCIA
1. Tarifa – a real migration hotspot, the strait of Gibraltar is a very busy migration corridor between Europe and Spain, recommended time to visit autumn when birds gather to rest before their final flight to warmer Africa. Between 350 and 400 different species can be observed each year near Tarifa, e.g. griffon vulture, black vulture, white-tailed eagle, short-toed eagle, black-winged kite, peregrine falcon, black stork, white stork, melodious warbler, kingfishers and many more.
2. Donana National Park near Huelva – one of the finest birdwatching sites in mainland Europe, this wetland reserve at the delta of the Guadalquivir River boasts around 360 species of birds. Bird watching is possible at a couple of centres around the park edges, but if you want to explore the park thoroughly, you need to take a guided tour. Guided tour takes about 3,5 hour and costs around 20 Euros.
3. Odiel Marshes near Huelva – well preserved wetlands reserve, second largest wetland in Huelva province, only half an hour drive from the famous Donana National Park.
4. Gibraltar – the Rock, with its unique flora, is a temporary home for many species migrating between the two continents
5. Sierra de Grazalema – great region for bird lovers, those fabulous limestone mountainous provide attractive and varied habitats for birds, they are home to nearly 300 hundred species including Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagles, Western Olivaceous, Orphean Warbler and many other.
6. Serrania de Ronda – unique mountainous region which similarly to Sierra Grazalema is a real paradise for those enjoying birdwatching, around 250 species of birds can be found there.
Costa de la Luz is widely considered the best holiday coast on the Iberian Peninsula. Wide beaches set in unspoilt countryside. Never overcrowded with soft golden sand and shallow crystal-clear waters. Affordable and quiet seaside hotels and holiday houses… If you don’t mind lack of fancy restaurants and shops of Costa del Sol or won’t miss full English breakfasts, you will fall in love with Costa de la Luz!
From time to time this idyllic vision of Costa de la Luz can be somewhat spoilt by excessive wind which makes sand get into your eyes when you lie flat on a beach towel, but, then again, the wind also makes Costa de la Luz the favourite destination for kitesurfers and windsurfers in Europe.
Costa de la Luz can be divided in three parts. The eastern region west of Tarifa, the middle Cadiz region and the most remote eastern Huelva region, up to Algarve in Portugal. We have prepared a separate ranking of the best beaches for regular beach goers for each region. Have a look at the most recommended beaches in the part of the Coast of the Light where you have booked your holidays!
Most popular beaches close to Tarifa
1. Bolonia Beach – once you leave the highway, it takes around 7 km to get to the beach, but the great time you are going to have in Bolonia is well worth the effort. The shallow waters in the large Bolonia bay make it an ideal destination for family holidays. In the quite northern part of the beach there is a 30 metre high famous sand dune surrounded by pine forest – get to the top to enjoy great views of the beach! Just next to the beach there is Baelo Claudia, the remains of a Roman fish-salting factory.
The sunny bay of Bolonia
2. Los Lances beach in Tarifa – most popular in Tarifa. Long family-friendly beach located in the northern part of the city between the small Chica beach and Rio Jara beach where the river enters the sea. Starting point of the Atlantic. Next to the kite surfing hot spot. Great for long family walks, great for sunbathing. Great crystal clear water.
Los Lances beach in Tarifa
3. Punta Paloma beach near Tarifa – located to the east of the famous surfing and kite surfing Valdevaqueros beach. Punta Paloma can be divided into two parts. The eastern more popular wider part features sand dunes. The western part of Punta Paloma is a secluded and narrow beach strip that ends at Arroyo de los Puercos. The only two ways to reach the strip is either a 20 min walk from the Punta Paloma parking or through a sandy pine forest. This narrow part offers loads of privacy, as it’s hidden behind steep bushy hills which often guard you not only from behind, but also from the left and right. For this reason, it is quite popular among nudists.
Playa Punta Paloma
4. Zahara de los Atunes, local beach – from the centre of Zahara you can access a fantastic wide 6 km long local beach. It’s never crowdy, even in peak season when people from inland Spain flock to the coast to seek relief from the heat. Zahara beach boasts some great fish restaurants and nice bars around. The water is mostly shallow – ideal for water fun, or snorkelling. There is a camping site nearby as well.
Wide beach in Zahara de los Atunes
Most popular beaches close to Cadiz
1. El Palmar beach near Conil de la Frontera and Vejer de la Frontera – one of the most popular beaches on Costa de la Luz, massive beach, 8 km long and 50 metre wide, with really warm water most of the summer, becouse of it’s size and the fact that it is not located directly in Conil it’s never overcrowded, even on summer weekends. The water is really shallow, therefore recommended for kids.
El Palmar beach
2. La Fontanilla beach in Conil de la Frontera – popular family beach in Conil, very close to the town centre, safe and well quipped beach with sun loungers, showers, toilets, lifeguards and red cross. The La Fontanilla beach turns is directly connected with another popular family beach Los Bateles
La Fontanilla beach
3. Zahora beach near Barbate – nice beach with great views of the Cape Trafalgar, one of the warmest waters in the area – the water is shallow and the waves low, difficult to access the beach by car which makes the beach perfect for those seeking tranquillity.
Zahora beach seen from the Cape Trafalgar
4. Los Canos de Meca, local beach, close to Barbate and Vejer de la Frontera – beach in a small sleepy village, beach sheltered by cliffs where the village is perched, never overcrowded, close to the famous CapeTrafalgar, camp sites available there, located 10-12 km off the main A48 road.
5. Cortadura beach, Cadiz suburbs– located at the entrance to Cadiz, the biggest beach in Cadiz, the only virgin beach in the city – 3900 meters long and about 60 meters wide, the characteristic feature of the beach is a long line of dunes that separates the beach from the road, there is a car parking available along the beach
6. Caleta beach in Cadiz – small size beach, the only beach in Old Cadiz, therefore, very popular in summer, nice views of Cadiz, especially during sunsets, shallow water, all the best restaurants and bars just across the street.
Most popular beaches close to Huelva
1. Isla Cristina beachesnear Huelva – west of Huelva, lots of water all around you as if you were on an island, 12 kms of nicest beaches in Huelva, excellent sea food restaurants nearby, great atmosphere in summer, this popular summer destination can get sometimes overcrowded on summer weekends
2. Beaches between El Portil and Punta Umbria, near Huelva – west of Huelva, miles-long stretches of somewhat secluded beaches conveniently located along the A-5052 road
Long beach in El Portil
3. Rompeculos beach near Huelva – east of Huelva, very wide 3 km long beach, beautiful countryside and nature around, close to the Donana natural Park; Rompeculos is close to the famous Cuesta Maneli beach which is equally beautiful, however, it is difficult to quickly access Cuesta Maneli on foot.
Rompeculos beach near Huelva
4. La Costilla beach in Rota – the most popular beach in Rota which tends to be a little be overcrowded in summer, lots of restaurants and bars located just next to the beach, very high standards including sun loungers, peddle boats, showers or changing rooms
5. El Rompidillo beach in Rota – the main beach in the city running alongside the town, clean and well taken care of beach, beautiful promenade
6. Pierdas Gordas beach in Rota – 2 km long, not many beach-goers can be found there, nice sand dunes and pine trees around.