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Puerta del Mar beach in Almuñécar

Costa Tropical is the name for the Mediterranean coastline of the province of Granada, Spain, in the heart of historical Andalucia. It is also but less frequently called the “Costa de Granada” or "Costa Granadina". Its “spine” is the N-340 coastal highway that runs southwest-northeast along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, to the border with France. Driving in the direction east from Málaga, the Costa Tropical begins soon after passing the last towns in the Málaga province of Nerja and Maro, and begins with the fishing village of La Herradura on the border of the Granada province, and continues until passing the town of Castillo de Baños as you enter the Almería province. Costa Tropical is made up mostly of agricultural zones and small resort towns and villages. What makes Costa Tropical unique in comparison to the rest of the Spanish coast is the mountains, the Sierra Nevada range among them, that fall to meet the Mediterranean Sea. The effect is dramatic, and the coastline rugged. It is (with northern Costa Brava) one of the most stunning of the entire Spanish Mediterranean coast. It was, until recently, relatively unpopulated in comparison to the rest of the Spanish coast, mostly because of the ruggedness of the terrain. Except for "la vega de Motril", there are no flat areas for large urban sprawl, unlike the Costa del Sol in the Málaga province. A drive along the N-340 through the Costa Tropical looks much like the Pacific Coast highway that runs through the southern coast of California, USA, an area often used in cinema for dramatic effect.

As one approaches the Costa Tropical from either Almería to the east or Málaga to the west, one will notice that the area looks less dry and more lush that the surrounding areas. This is because the Sierra Nevada mountain range that serves as a backdrop to the Costa Tropical catches more rain and thus supplies the area with abundant irrigation. This same mountain backdrop provides a good shelter from northerlies and creates a pleasing “micro-climate” of very mild winters and mild summers compared to the interior of Spain, with temperature differences of 10 degrees Celsius relative to the area on the other side of the mountains – so it could be 38 degrees Celsius on a summer day in the city of Granada and only 28 degrees Celsius on the Costa Tropical. In the winter, it can be snowing in Granada and 10 degrees Celsius on the Costa Tropical.

The principal towns of the Costa Tropical are Motril, year-round population just over 56,000 and Almuñécar, year-round population just over 23,000. Motril is not that much a tourist destination and is principally a manufacturing and agricultural center (horticulture, vegetables, tropical fruits and some sugar cane, although the last is unfortunately declining). Motril also possesses a small seaport. Almuñécar is primarily a resort town and agricultural center (tropical fruits), with the summer-time vacation population more than doubling the town’s population. It is a popular destination for Spanish summer holiday makers, and a popular year-round destination for northern European visitors, retirees, and full or part-time residents. In the past decades, smaller towns and less development lead to a frequent characterization of the Costa Tropical as “more Spanish”, more traditional, than its larger and more popular neighbor to the west, the Costa del Sol. It was also more affordable and by consequence attracted a lot Nortrhern Europeans, mostly British. Just like the rest of the Spanish coast, it recently underwent an unprecedented housing and construction boom with some environmental degradation. On weekends throughout the year, the Costa Tropical has always been a very popular destination for residents of the city of Granada. In the summer, it is a very popular destination for Spaniards throughout the country.

The Costa Tropical is rich with historical treasures, including pre-historic cave paintings in nearby Nerja; many Roman ruins including roads, bridges, buildings, fish salting factories, and irrigation systems used to this day; and abundant remains of the many-centuries domination of the region by the Arab conquerors. In fact, Almuñécar served as the entry point to Iberia and establishment of a power base for Abd ar-Rahman I (also called Abd al-Rahman I and Abderraman I) in 755, who came from Damascus and was the founder of an independent Muslim dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia for nearly three centuries thereafter.

The Costa Tropical is one hour by auto from the city of Granada and a little further from its airport, and is just under one hour by auto from the city of Malaga and its airport. The Costa Tropical is also close to other popular tourist destinations, including Marbella, Ronda, Seville, Córdoba, and the historical treasures of Ubeda and Baeza in the nearby Jaen province. Costa Tropical is readily accessible by auto and bus, via an excellent highway system. Bus service is frequent, timely, comfortable, and low cost. Overall infrastructure is very developed with the large neighboring cities of Málaga and Granada offering what is not available in the Costa Tropical. Málaga and Granada have very good air and rail service.

References


Costa Tropical Tourist Information Guide to Granada & the Costa Tropical English Magazine and news website for the region

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