Mojacar: pueblo and playa
Mojacar offers an excellent combination of both pueblo and playa (town and beach); the traditional charm of a place early permeated by various cultures and civilizations, with the modern attraction of beachfront facilities surrounded by unspoilt nature.
Separated only by 3km, these two different aspects of Mojacar complement each other perfectly.
The Old town (or pueblo) of Mojacar is nestled in the hills of Sierra Cabrera at almost 175meters above sea level. Its distinctive white, cube-shaped houses piled one on top of another are visible from a distance. Separated by curved cobbled streets, serpentine ladders and ancient arches, this village offers a surprise on every corner. It still retains much of its original character and has an interesting history that goes back to a period before the expulsion of the Moors from Spain.
A climb to the top of its steep streets gives you a panoramic view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the green-brown hilly mantle of the surrounding landscape and its extensive coastline (and playas).
Despite it being a touristic destination, it is nevertheless on the edge of The Cabo de Gata Natural Park, about 20 minutes from Mojacar, a place of unexplored beauty and spectacular scenery.
Mojacar Old Town is rather well-prepared for the waves of tourists it receives during the year. Many visitors make the drive up the hill for a relaxing evening stroll or for a caña (small beer) with a view of the sun beginning to hide behind the horizon. Temperatures are pretty high during the afternoon so evenings are a better time to visit and enjoy its charm.
Parking lots are easily accessible once you reach the top of the hill; there is even an underground parking available. Access to the town from these parking spaces are via a set of stairs that take you directly to Mojacar Old Town, although for people with mobility issues or infants (or if you are just flat out exhausted from your day out), there are also convenient outdoor lifts that take you up.
The town is truly picturesque and great for getting lost amongst its small cobbled streets and narrow alleys, both typical of Moorish character. White-washed walls are decorated with hanging terracotta plant pots overflowing with colourful geraniums, making for a nice contrast to the eye. And the panoramic views from this hilltop are just stunning.
Artisan shops abound, and although you can tell that it is a place prepared for tourism, it still has a special charm to it which allows you to enjoy a peaceful stroll around. You will also find yourself spoilt for choice in restaurants or bars with terraces overlooking the hills with the sea as a perfect backdrop.
We tried La Candela, a happy little restaurant with an exciting menu and great fish. The decoration is cozy and cute and the staff was friendly and attentive. You will find it right at the heart of the village, off the main square just opposite the Tourist Office, on a first floor overlooking the square. We recommend it:
Local 24 Plaza Nueva, 04638 Mojácar, Almería T: 647 72 43 67
Another good reason to visit Mojacar is its busy mercadillo (small local market) that brings the small town to life every Wednesday mornings. It is an excellent opportunity to stock up on fruit and veggies for your holiday as they are mostly locally grown (the region is commonly known as The Orchard of Europe).
Cured meats and locally produced cheeses are also available. And of course, all sorts of souvenirs…
Mojacar Beach is actually an impressive 17km stretch of coast where you will find small sandy coves as well as long strips with restaurants and bars. It´s surprising how touristic beaches coexist harmoniously with wild, hidden inlets; finding a virgin beach with little to no people is not too difficult a task.
Only a few kilometers away from Mojacar, towards Carboneras town, there is a small rural track that is accessible by car and that takes you to solitary beaches, a few with interesting chiringuitos (open-air bars).
Further afield, past Carboneras town and through some mountain roads offering a driving experience with spectacular views along the coastline, you will get to the famous Playa de los Muertos. Once you get to the parking spot (which gets very busy during high season so best to arrive early) it is a steepish, rocky walk down to the beach. Hence, we recommend taking your trainers along. What you will find is a long, 1km beach of fine stones and blue, turquoise waters. The view on the right side looking at the sea is simply gorgeous.
Boat Trip & Snorkelling
Mojacar is not only about visiting its hilltop town, its beaches and its chiringuitos. A great activity for the whole family is to hire a boat trip and immerse yourself in Cabo de Gata´s Marine Reserve.
We hired one of these outings with BuceoMojacar from Carboneras town. They take you out on a motorboat for 30 euros per person and make a stop for some impressive snorkeling (if its chilly, you can hire wetsuits for 15euros each as we did).
The crystalline waters of the coast of Cabo de Gata allow for a simple snorkeling activity to turn into a really gratifying experience. There are plenty of places to snorkel around and close to the beaches, but a boat is the only way of accessing the fantastic marine reserve.
We were taken to an impressive cliff of volcanic origin where you can clearly distinguish solidified magma and volcanic chimney structures. Once you dive your head in the water, you will find remarkable fossilized coral and different species of fish.
Besides BuceoMojacar there are plenty of other companies that offer similar services, but we were really happy with our experience.
If you would like to learn how to scuba-dive with a tank, Cabo de Gata is a great place to start and this company also offers lessons for beginners.
Horseriding y Trekking
Other two great activities you can do in Mojacar is horse riding or walking/trekking on the rolling hills along the coastline.
There is a good network of hiking routes in this vast underdeveloped area, which are really enjoyable during spring and autumn when it is not too hot. Almeria benefits from a sunny climate that is practically ubiquitous all year round so it is a great place for outdoor activities.
In Garrutxa town, only 7kms away from Mojacar, there is a place where fresh, recently caught fish from its very shores, is auctioned. Yes, auctioned! It’s a unique experience just to come and watch the event unfold, even if you don´t wish to raise your hand and shout out a price! The tension and the atmosphere created are worth the visit alone.
If going under the hammer is your thing, you should definitely go for the flagship product which is the local red shrimp (prawn). They are so fresh they seem to want to jump out of the trays! The standard price for this sought-after product is not very cheap but bear in mind that these are no ordinary, farmed shrimp you can get everywhere else, and availability is limitied.
Tip: these auctions are held during a limited time-frame only (Monday to Friday from 5pm-6:30pm) so you should plan accordingly.
A visit to the Tabernas Desert
After an inland drive of about an hour from Mojacar, you will begin to see a decisively deserted landscape, the perfect setting for a typical Western movie. Or so, thought Sergio Leone when he decided to film “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.
This place still preserves the sets for several famous Western movies, whose stars include Clint Eastwood, Brigitte Bardot, Anthony Quinn, Claudia Cardinale and Orson Wells, and they are open to visitors.
The truth is, it’s only a matter of reading the comments on TripAdvisor to realize that these theme parks once lived their splendour and are now going through a clear decline.
We decided to visit anyway just to get our own impression. We chose Fort Bravo (it had better reviews) as Oasys MiniHollywood also has a zoo/aquatic park which we thought doesn´t quite fit in well with the whole picture.
Bear in mind that these parks are somewhat expensive (a family of 4 costs 100euros), and although we thought it was visually interesting and the cowboy show was a plus, we still believe that overall is wasn´t worth the hour drive and the price.
Having said that, if you are a true Western movie fan than this visit may very well be your cuppa!
A visit to Agua Amarga for lunch
Agua Amarga is a sweet, traditional village in The Cabo de Gata Natural Park with some good restaurants where you can have an enjoyable meal right on the beach. We tried Taharis and enjoyed it.
They offer fresh, quality fish and fantastic locally caught calamari (squid). It is quite popular so best to book before you go, but the service was efficient even though it was a very busy day.
Bear in mind that if it´s a Paella you crave, you must call and order it in advance so they have enough time to prepare it just for you!
Calle Desague 2, 04149 Agua Amarga, Almería T: 950 13 82 35 Map Coordinates 36°56'19.9"N 1°56'13.5"W
For everyday shopping the best option (cheap and efficient) is to buy at one of the Mercadona supermarkets in the area, such as the one in Carboneras which is very large and has a parking space.
If you need to do your shopping on a Sunday, options are limited to small supermarkets near Mojacar Beach which normally remain open. These tend to be a bit more expensive, but some have a good choice of international products which cater to the demand of expat residents of the area.
In Garrutxa town there is also a food market where you can find fresh, local fish and normally at very reasonable prices.
For fruits and veggies, as mentioned before, head up to Mojacar for its mercadillo. As is common throughout Spain, these local markets open on a fixed day of the week; Mojacar´s mercadillo opens every Wednesday morning.