In Praise of Palmones Beach

... and sucks to Cadiz Tourism!

Palmones beach

Peachy Palmones beach

Well ain’t life a beach!

Cadiz Tourist Board is not very complimentary about my local strip of sand.

‘surrounded by industry’ and ‘not very attractive’ – check it out!

I thought the whole point of a tourist board was to promote tourism!

Palmones beach isn’t perfect but it’s better than Brighton’s, which consists mainly of tar and stones. I know, I grew up there. It used to cost my Mum a fortune in eucalyptus oil, the smelly remedy for removing oil slicks from skin in those days.

Brighton beach is world famous but it’s no good for making sand castles or sunbathing naked.

It’s got a nudist beach but your bottom looks like perforated bubble-wrap after a few hours of sitting on pebbles!

It doesn’t take huge imagination to write something positive about Palmones beach, the last-remaining protected wetland on the Algeciras coastline!

Palmones beach

Pretty flamingos

  • A beach with natural dunes that makes its own sand, instead of having to nick it from elsewhere.
  • A beach next to a river estuary with marshlands where you can ogle marsh harriers, glossy ibis, black-tailed godwits and, on occasions, pretty flamingos as well as ‘birds’ in bikinis.
  • Not forgetting the IMAX cinema views to Africa across the Gibraltar Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Palmones beach

James Bond-style action © Chris Gamble

There aren’t many beaches that can boast close-up views of luxury ocean liners and container ships the size of Manhattan street blocks.

There’s James Bond-style action too, when the Guardia Civil chase down cigarette smugglers in their high-speed launches.

It beats having to watch the chubby dude in front of you changing out of his wet cossie while you’re eating your picnic!

Palmones beach

You have to look beyond the industry

Palmones beach is sandwiched between an oil refinery and an industrial estate, so it will never win a Blue Flag. You have to cross the N340 from Los Barrios to reach it, and there are petro-chemical chimneys peeping above the palm trees.

But like the best things in life, it’s free.

There are no exorbitantly-priced sun loungers lined up like beds in a hospital ward, where you can practically rub thighs with your neighbour. There are no Scandihooligans hogging the prime spots with their beach towels.

Palmones beach

Walk from the beach upriver to shady cafes

There’s a shady riverside walk with a café where you can watch the fishermen raking for clams, or feed the geese which watch over the boatyard more vocally than any guard dog.

The tourist board has posted information boards about the area and its wildlife.  The entertainment’s in the  translations. I’m not sure Algeciras Town Hall would like the reference to its ‘city slums’, especially as ‘estribaciones meridionales’ mean ‘southern foothills’ in English.

Several signs proclaim Palmones to be the Gastronomic Centre of Cadiz. OTT, maybe, but the seafood at Restaurant Meson El Copo is still so fresh you can catch it yourself from their tank.

Palmones beach

The views rock!

You can have Palmones beach to yourself all summer as only the locals go there. It’s usually well after 4pm when they descend with their tables and chairs and tents and cold boxes and half the kitchen sink. It’s time to leave when the kids get out their bats and balls and use your body as the net!

There’s only one downside to my local playa if you’re that way inclined. Hardly anyone goes topless. The reason, so I’m told, is that they’re a bit too intimately acquainted – either blood relatives or next-door neighbours!

Palmones beach

Palmones beach: beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Did you know Los Barrios is the Centre of the Universe? Find out why here.

You can catch the scenic Mr Henderson’s Railway from Los Barrios (or Algeciras or San Roque) to Ronda. Find out how to get your FREE Trip Planner here.


  • Molly July 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm Reply

    Belinda this places looks idyllic…
    Lots of space, lots to see, enough places to get a cold drink or snack.
    My idea of a Spanish beach entirely

    Thanks for sharing the secret

    • Belinda July 22, 2014 at 7:49 pm Reply

      If you ignore the industry it really does have a lot going for it but if you are making the trip from Granada, Molly, I would still reccommend Bolonia beach, Tarifa, first!

  • Campbell Ferguson July 23, 2014 at 9:09 am Reply

    Before the Oil Refinery and the Steel Works, this used to be where all the Madrileños came to for their hols. Train from Madrid to San Roque and a short taxi trip to their holiday home. It’s got the best beach with just a hint of the fabulous round the corner in Costa de la Luz and strangely the water seems quite clear. Then they moved to Sotogrande.

    • Belinda July 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm Reply

      That’s interesting Campbell. I’m also researching info about one of the first British tourists who had a home in the village and lived off the local clams!

  • Lynne September 26, 2014 at 6:20 pm Reply

    Hi Belinda, I worked here back in ’73 and it was idyllic. Palmones was a typical little Spanish village where everyone knew everyone and Acerinox, the stainless steel factory was just in it’s infant stage. Visited again recently in 2014 and was horrified by all the industry around – but Palmones beach was still as beautiful and natural as ever. Palmones village much bigger now than it was but still has a certain charm to it.

    • Belinda September 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm Reply

      I bet it was wonderful then!

  • Jo-Anne Provenzano Olszewski August 30, 2017 at 3:16 am Reply

    Hello Belinda
    How nice to read about Palmones. We are Americans. My dad had a dress factory in Los Barrios and built a beautiful house on the Beach at Palmones. We spent summers there in the early 1970’s. It was idyllic. Fisherman with their boats, a wonderful beach for young children…and of course, the extraordinary view of Gib at night, lit up with golden lights. Unfortunately, my mom passed, my dad lost the business and we didn’t return. In 2009, I came back to Spain with my son. Acerinox was just starting to take shape back in the 70’s..Wow.. it certainly took off and so did Palmones! It was a sleepy little place back then…… As for the beach, you are right. the sand is wonderful… but the view is still gorgeous, we ate at a little restaurant on the beach, and got the courage up to knock on the door of Dad’s old house. It was lovely to find out that it now serves as a home for mentally disabled men. Nice to know they have the gorgeous views and beach..Extraordinary…as that is what became of his house in New Jersey after he passed on!

    • Belinda August 30, 2017 at 10:40 am Reply

      Hi Jo-Anne
      What a lovely story and how nice of you to take the trouble to share it. We go on walks along the river regularly and despite the chimneys and the lack of flamingos these days, we always find it uplifting. I shall have to look to see if I can spot your house now!

  • Jo-Anne Provenzano Olszewski August 31, 2017 at 12:19 am Reply

    It was unusual because it was red brick…with a circular room on the second floor, he never whitewashed it. from the beach side, it had two small fountains on the back terrace. Our little ones loved those fountains. Say hello for me if you do spot it!

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