Our journey west along the coast from Marbella took us through San Pedro and the mass of roadworks that are blighting the landscape at the moment, until we reached the subtlety of Estepona, a quieter kind of resort and nothing like its incongruous eastern neighbours along the Costa del Sol.
Estepona seems to symbolise the end of the horrifying and overly ‘Englishised’ south coast where mass consumption, soulless high rise hotels, characterless architecture, strings of low class Irish, English, Dutch and German bars blot the landscape and create a sandbox for ravenous tourists to plunder and the locals to pick up the pieces afterwards.
Situated 50km from Algeciras; the gateway to Morocco, Estepona seems classier and cleaner. There are still masses of apartments and holiday homes for rent but the difference between this resort and say, Torremolinos, is that the landscape of mountains that creates such a splendid and dramatic backdrop is given room to breathe and the buildings that front the beach are far more sympathetic to that vista.
Like many coastal towns it is nothing more than a strip of existence a few roads deep but within its folds there is plenty to explore. The tourist information office, situated where Avd. De San Lorenzo meets Avd. De Espana, and its friendly, multi-lingual staff, is well equipped to answer all your questions and provide information about the town along with maps of walks in the local countryside.
For the shopaholics out there Calle Real and Calle Santa Ana provide plenty of shops and boutiques, and, for some unfathomable reason, Estepona has more hairdressers per square kilometre than just about any other town in Spain.
For those seeking a slice of history there is the stunningly quaint Plaza Las Flores and further into the old quarter Plaza de San Francisco is home to the extremely intricate Church of Our Lady of the Redemption.
Other noteworthy attractions in and around Estepona include the Plaza de Torres (Bull ring) which although I don’t agree with, it is a part of Spanish culture that looks set to be gone altogether by the year 2020. Opposite the Plaza de Torres is the excellent Elimi; a vegetarian restaurant where the food and service are so good that you’ll want to move in.
Beyond there to the west lies the port and through the end of the car park you can reach Havana Beach where there are excellent wild camping opportunities, chiringuitos, views of Gibraltar and a crescent shaped beach of soft sand and perfectly still sea.
For those seeking sun, sea and sand without the tacky unpleasantness of the major tourist towns, Estepona is a subtle, unassuming resort that has enough to keep you relaxed and enthralled in equal measure.
Read about our wild camp at Estepona or take a look at the galleries of a walk through the town, the Church of Our Lady of the Redemption, the Old Quarter and Havana Beach at sunset.
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