The 8 Best Costa del Sol Beaches

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As you'd expect from a place that translates to English as Sunshine Coast, this 161km stretch of shoreline basks in the rays for most of the year. In fact, there are around 320 days of sun on average every year, and the average temperatures stay well into double figures year-round.

When it comes to beaches, there really is something for everyone along the Costa del Sol, with everything from family-friendly to action packed and celebrity-filled.

Arguably the best-known beach in these parts is Puerto Banus. It's a big favourite with the celebs, with everyone from Simon Cowell to Calum Best having been "papped" here. And as for the beach itself, it's exactly the kind of powdery, white sandy swathe that you'd expect in Southern Spain. Naturally, the nightlife's lively round here too - and pricey.

For somewhere less showy, the traditional Andalusian town of Estepona gives you a more realistic picture of a traditional Spanish town. Its narrow cobbled streets are lined with whitewashed houses and a mountain backdrop. And as for the beach, it's a family-friendly spot with a Blue Flag tick by its name. 

Given that the Costa del Sol has been a popular tourist destination for decades, finding an off-the-beaten-track beach away from the crowds is a near-impossible task. However, for somewhere a little quieter than the majority, head for Cala del Canuelo. You'll find it about an hour's drive east of Malaga, in the Los Acantilado de Maro-Cerro Gordo National Park. As it's part of a protected area, you'll have to park nearby and get a shuttle bus the rest of the way. It's well worth the effort though, especially for snorkelers, who can't get enough of the crystal-clear waters here.

  • 1. Playa de Maro

    Playa de Maro
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Also known by its English name, Maro Beach, Playa de Maro is a Blue Flag beach lying within Acantilados del Mar Nature Reserve. Known for its seclusion, this 500 metre long stretch of deep greyish sand mixed with occasional pebbles is a virgin beach, meaning it has been all but untouched by development.

    Playa de Maro is therefore a fantastic area of coast for those seeking an escape from the mass… read more »

  • 2. Playa del Cristo

    Playa del Cristo
    Turista Inglesa
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Stretching around a small bay immediately to the west of Punta de la Doncella and the attractive marina of Puerto Pesquero de Estepona, Playa del Cristo is approximately 700 metres long. Combining stone-free dark sands with calm shallow waters, protected on one side by a sea wall, amenities include several play areas. As a result, it's a beach that has become popular with families with young children.

    Accessible on foot and… read more »

  • 3. Playa La Rada

    Playa La Rada
    Turista Inglesa
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Situated on the eastern side of Estepona, Playa de la Rada runs for over two kilometres. Although not the calmest of beaches on the Costa del Sol, with moderate waves, its deep grey sands and long beachside promenade makes Playa de la Rada an excellent all-round option favoured by locals and visitors alike.

    Accessible for those with disabilities, and in close proximity to the heart of Estepona, Playa de la Rada… read more »

  • 4. La Caleta

    La Caleta
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Kitesurfing

    Facing roughly south into the bright waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Malaga's La Caleta beach is located in the upmarket area of the city that goes by the same name.

    Situated between Baños del Carmen and La Malagueta, its darker sands have a width averaging 25 metres, and a length stretching to a kilometre.

    Among the sands, visitors will find areas with palms and grasses offering natural… read more »

  • 5. Playa Burriana

    Playa Burriana
    © Manfred Zajac

    Playa Burriana is a large sandy beach in Nerja that stretches for around 800 metres in length, and averages 40 metres in width. It has been awarded the European Union's Blue Flag for cleanliness and facilities on multiple occasions, as well as being a repeat recipient of Spain's equivalent Q for quality award.

    Seeing thousands of local and foreign visitors each year, Playa Burriana has excellent facilities, including showers, children's play… read more »

  • 6. Malagueta Beach

    Malagueta Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    One of the closest beaches to Malaga, Malagueta Beach sits comfortably within the city limits, just five minutes by car, or a 20-minute walk from the centre of the city. Buses also regularly ply the route, although there's a good amount of parking nearby.

    Running parallel to the promenade named after Malaga native Pablo Picasso, Malagueta lies east of the port, and boasts an area where visitors are able to… read more »

  • 7. Playa de Pedregalejo

    Playa de Pedregalejo
    Erik Starck
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Located a few minutes' walk from Malaga's port, Playa de Pedregalejo is an urban beach that sits between Baños del Carmen and El Palo Beach. Though relatively narrow, with an average width of around 20 metres, it's dark - almost brown - sands stretch on for more than a kilometre, ensuring space for all its visitors. Awarded a Q Quality Seal in 2018 by the Spanish authorities as… read more »

  • 8. Playa de Artola

    Playa de Artola
    Olaf Tausch

    Playa de Artola lies at the eastern end of Marbella, running west away from the elegant Cabopino Marina on an area of coast known as the Punta Ladrones (Thieves' Point). However, unlike most beaches in Marbella, Playa de Artola is not surrounded by large hotel complexes. Instead, it sits among rolling dunes that have been a protected Spanish national space since 2001.

    Though quite narrow, the gently-curving sands of Playa… read more »