Top Destinations in the Costa Tropical
Welcome to the breathtakingly beautiful Costa Tropical. If you have never been to this part of the world, now is the time!
On This Page
About the Costa Tropical
In the past, the Costa Tropical was commonly overlooked in favor of its neighboring coast, the Costa del Sol. But today, with easier access due to the new highway, cheaper prices, prettier beaches and more natural surroundings, more and more people are flocking to this area.
The Costa Tropical is made up of three mid-sized towns and many smaller white villages, but it's mostly associated with the town that sits at its center, Almuñécar, its sidekick La Herradura and their neighbor Salobreña.
Motril is also a popular destination now and the largest town in the Costa Tropical with a population of over 60,000.
Where is the Costa Tropical?
You will find it along the Mediterranean coastline of Southern Spain in Andalucia, nestled between the two well known cities of Malaga and Granada.
It sits between the famous Costa del Sol and the lesser known, but stunningly beautiful, Costa Almeria.
Along the water, from west to east, it begins at La Herradura and ends with Albuñol. Stretching northward, it ends at the base of the Alpujarra mountains on the east/ northeast side (Albondon), and Dúrcal and Padul at the edge of the Lecrin Valley.
The driving time between Nerja and Motril, the towns on either end of the Costa Tropical, is about 30 minutes.
See our Costa Tropical Maps Guide to learn more about where we are...
Popular Trips and Tours
What makes the Costa Tropical so Special?
The combination of its micro-climate (320 days of sun each year), tropical vegetation (palms, flowers, fruits and vegetables), beautiful landscape with soaring mountains meeting the sea, and its rich, multi-cultural (Phoenician, Roman, Greek, and Arab) history make the Costa Tropical one of the most interesting areas in Spain, and in Andalucía in particular.
Unlike the better-known Costa del Sol where the 21st century has already arrived, the Costa Tropical is still very Spanish. Its people are warm, friendly and family-loving.....qualities that are fast disappearing.
Once you have visited this part of the world, you will probably be back again....and again....and maybe stay for good like so many others have before you.
8 Fun Things to Do in the Costa Tropical
With an average of 320 days of sunshine every year, you can spend a lot of time outside enjoying nature, soaking up the sun and trying out the numerous outdoor activities that are available here. Depending on what time of year you come, you can also hit the Sierra Nevada ski slopes!
Enjoy a tapas in the Marina del Este
A great place to visit while visiting the Costa Tropical is the tranquil Marina del Este in the Punta de la Mona. It's a beautiful setting with many restaurants right on the water overlooking the brightly coloured sailboats and the town of Almuñécar in the distance. The popular scuba beach of Berengueles is just outside the marina with its own tiki bar and beautiful vistas. It's a great spot, if you feel like going for a quick swim or scuba...
Renting a Sailboat... or any kind of boat
The Marina is also a great place to rent a sailboat for the day or go on any of the half-day / full-day boating excursions that leave from there. The Costa Tropical is perfect for boating because of its many coves, bays and rocky coastline, which is also perfect for snorkeling. People come every day from the Costa del Sol to enjoy our coast because it is more sheltered from the strong winds and the coves provide great spots to anchor and swim... and, of course, it's undoubtably more beautiful... Rent a Boat in the Marina del Este!
Spend the Day Golfing in Motril
Do you enjoy a day of golfing with friends on a beautiful course? Then the Los Mariscos Golf Club is the place for you. Tucked away just behind the well-known Playa Granada Resort in Motril is an 18-hole course that is perfect for any level of golfer. It is a walking course with spectacular views in every direction. After a game you can enjoy a drink seaside in the Los Marisco Club outdoor bar or have a full meal in one of its restaurants or lounges. Read more about the course.
Enjoy the Sun and Surf on one of the Costa Tropical Beaches
The beaches in the Costa Tropical have been designated as some of the prettiest beaches in all of Spain, and it's no surprise when you see them. With soaring craggy mountains that drop down into the deep blue and turquoise waters of the Mediterranean creating stunning coves, bays and rocky promontories, the beauty can't be beat. Each of the towns along this coast have been blessed with numerous beaches.
Learn to Snorkel or Scuba
Because of the characteristic rocky shoreline in the Costa Tropical, snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular sports here. People come from all over Spain, and the rest of Europe, to explore these coves. There are many very reputable scuba companies operating here that will take you on fantastic excursions exploring the bays, caves and waterfalls that dot the coastline. You can find great diving companies in any of the Costa Tropical towns that not only provide great tour experiences but that also help in training and certification as well. Learn more about diving companies in the area.
Pack your Parka and Head to the Slopes!
Believe it or not, another fantastic adrenalin pumping activity you can do here is skiing the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is often said that in the Costa Tropical you can take to the slopes by day and relax on the Mediterranean beaches by afternoon, enjoying a cerveza and tapas of course. Where else in the world can you do that? The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is 3,478 meters in altitude, the highest in mainland Spain. With more than 106 kilometres of trails and 125 ski runs, it is one of the largest and most popular ski resorts in the country --- and is just over an hours drive from the beautiful beaches of the Costa Tropical. Learn more about skiing in the Costa Tropical.
Take the kids to the Aqua Tropic Water Park
The kids will love the Almuñécar Water Park and it's a great day to spend the day for both the adults and the little ones. Situated just at the end of Playa Velilla overlooking the Mediterranean sea you will find the Aqua Tropic Park packed with slides, wave pools, jacuzzis, waterfalls, arcades, play parks, restaurants, bars and more... Adults can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas and chill out in the grassy areas under the olive trees... Read our full Review of the Aqua Tropic Water Park here.
While the Costa del Sol is more known for excess and parties, the Costa Tropical is known for nature and getting sporty! There is an unlimited amount of sports activities that are popular here... parapente, hang gliding, kayaking, scuba, windsurfing, paddle boarding, tennis, padel, hiking and biking to name a few. There is definitely something for everyone and at every level of fitness. Plus, there are an endless number of companies and services that cater to these types of energy packed activities. Take a look at our Guide of Sports Adventure Companies in the Costa Tropical here.
Where to Stay in the Costa Tropical?
The Costa Tropical is packed with great Hotels, many of them 4-star. There are options for every price range, we have 1-3 star hotels, hostels, pensions, guest houses and many campgrounds for the adventurous spirit! To learn more about the best places to stay along the coast read our Best Hotels in the Costa Tropical guide. We have also put together a guide for each individual town... The Best Hotels in La Herradura -- Hotel Guide
The Costa Tropical Towns
Moving inland a bit, we find secondary pockets of industry in Jete, Otivar, Padul, Lecrin, and Velez de Benaudalla.
Largely due to tourism and the numerous outdoor activities found here year round (windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing, golf, horse-riding, hiking and yes... skiing in the nearby Sierra Nevada) even the smaller towns are becoming more recognized as places to visit, La Herradura especially.
Almuñecar, not the largest but the most popular of the Costa Tropical towns, is located between La Herradura and Salobreña. It is just a 45 minute drive from the cities of Malaga to the west and Granada to the North.
You will find the greatest number of restaurants and hotels here and the most numerous beaches. In the off seasonal months, Almuñecar’s permanent year round population stands at around 23,000, but balloons to almost 100,000 during July and August. This makes the area a wonderful retreat for those who appreciate quiet and tranquility for most of the year, and a wonderful hub of activity, music and excitement during the summer months.
There is much to see and do in Almuñecar; for more detailed information on this town visit our Almuñecar Travel Guide.
La Herradura is the smallest of the Costa Tropical towns and is a municipality of neighboring Almuñecar. It is a much quieter place, much like a sleepy seaside fishing village, although again, the summer months bring many visitors and the little town comes to life. Many say that La Herradura is the most picturesque of the 4 villages. It is so named “La Herradura” or “horseshoe” because of its beautiful horseshoe shaped bay which is surrounded on both sides by two points, Punta de la Mona and Cerro Gordo. Each point is capped with an ancient torre or watch tower. To learn more about La Herradura, visit our La Herradura Travel Guide.
Driving past Almuñecar to the east, you will come across the next town in the Costa Tropical, Salobreña. As you make your way along the curvy N-340 highway, suddenly a breathtaking view will appear; an ancient white washed village clinging to the cliffs and crowned with a remarkable Moorish castle. The village of Salobreña has been built upon a large rock formation that sits in the middle of a sugar cane plantation right on the Mediterranean Sea. Take some time to explore this unique place with its winding alleys, flowered walks and spotless beaches. Be sure to tour the old Moorish castle and the Iglesias de Nuestra Señora del Rosario. For more information on Salobreña, read our Salobreña Travel Guide.
Motril is the final town along the Costa Tropical highway and is the most industrial of the four (4) towns. It is the most densely populated town with over 60,000 inhabitants and has a very impressive commercial center. In recent years the area has enjoyed a vibrant economic boom due to its very active port where tropical fruits and vegetables are shipped from here to all parts of the world. Cruise ships are also making regular appearances here.
Despite its industrial nature Motril also has a wonderful coastal area (Playa Granada) with wide beaches, a golf course, resorts and plenty of seaside restaurants and bars.
For more information on Motril and its offerings, please read our Motril Travel Guide.
Nerja is located at the eastern most end of the Costa del Sol, about 5 minutes from La Herradura. It is a very popular tourist stop and for good reason. The town boasts a wonderful shopping district, beautiful beaches, panoramic views of the Mediterranean coastline and an endless selection of hotels, restaurants and bars. Must sees include the famous Balcon de Europa, a lookout that extends from the town out over the sea and the unimaginable Nerja caves, just outside of town. The smaller neighboring towns of Frigiliana and Maro are also worth a visit.
Weather in the Costa
Geographically located between Africa and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Costa Tropical is sheltered from cold northerly winds resulting in the only totally protected, sub-tropical zone on the southern coast of Spain. The climate varies greatly, but we enjoy a more tolerable range here along the coast compared to more severe summers and winters elsewhere. This area is usually 10º - 20º cooler during the summer months and 10º-20º warmer during the winter than even some of our closest neighbors (Costa del Sol, Granada City or Almeria).
Together with approximately 320 days of sunshine yearly and an average temperature of 20ºC, this strip of coastline is indeed special.
Getting to the Costa Tropical
Getting here by Train:
Granada and Malaga both have great train stations and are accessible from anywhere within Spain. In general, the rail station in Spain is great and runs very smoothly. You can travel all over the country easily and quickly and usually at a low cost to you.
The best site for finding the lowest fares and booking trains is OMIO:
Look for rates and times for trains in Spain.
From each of the train stations (Malaga & Granada) you can get a direct bus to the Costa Tropical towns. See each individual town for directions on how to get there.
Getting here by Plane:
Flying into the Costa Tropical is also easily done. Both Malaga and Granada have airports that service all of Spain. Malaga's airport is international with direct flights coming in from all over the world. The best site for finding low cost airlines into these two cities is: Skyscanner.es
Getting Around in the Costa Tropical
The Spanish bus system is great. Unlike in some countries, buses are very often used here and depended on so they tend to be large, comfortable, and reliable. You can get direct buses from the larger cities to any of the Costa Tropical towns or buses that run from small town to town. There are also local buses that take you around each town. You can purchase bus tickets on the same website where train tickets are sold and compare the prices of each. You have to pay for local buses as you get on. Best site for finding the cheapest bus fares is OMIO!
Each town has a taxi stand where taxis are always present. You can either go down to the stand or call one up and have them come to you. There are also several private taxi services with larger vehicles that will take you to and from the bigger cities and airports. More about Taxis in Almunecar.
One of the preferred ways of getting around is of course renting your own car. Car rentals in Spain tend to be very reasonable. You can either pick up a car in Granada or Malaga (at the airport) or pick up a car in town. More about car rentals in Almunecar.