We needed to get a little bit away from everyday life, and therefore decided to take three days off and go to Cabo de Gata, the south-easternmost point on the Iberian peninsula – and one of Spain’s most distinctive and exciting nature reserves.
We therefore booked three nights at the 4star MC San Jose, located near the center of the area’s capital, San José.
Saturday, April 25th
We packed our Helle Hollis rental car in the morning and headed for San José, located 235 km from Málaga airport. The trip from Málaga to around Almuñecar is very beautiful, even if you as we choose to drive along the highway.
From Almuñecar you cross some of the most surreal landscapes I have seen. It is impossible for long periods to spot the ground. The whole landscape is as wrapped in plastic, and when you see it from a distance it looks like a silver sea.
In fact we are speaking of plastic greenhouses. The area between Almuñecar and Murcia is Spain’s vegetable garden, and many crops can be grown here both three and four times a year. Pretty it is not – but very distinctive. I did not find any reason to take a photo though.
We had lunch in Castell del Ferro, located in the province of Granada. The town is nothing special, but is like a little oasis in all the plastic landscape. Right down to the sea, with a small beach promenade where there are some small restaurants.
Prices are affordable and the quality is high compared to some of the more touristic cities. We were lucky that on this particular day the yearly tapas competition was held, where the local bars compete to get elected the best tapa. (Small dish or appetizer which throughout the province of Granada, is served for free when you buy a glass of wine or beer). In Málaga province it has become custom to charge for tapas. But here, the tapa is for free!
Thus refreshed both eyes and palate, we continued towards Almeria (which is also worth a visit – one can visit an old fortress which is open to the public – free entrance for EU citizens). On this occasion, we continued however without entering Almeria and ended up in San José in the afternoon, where we quickly found our hotel on the right in the second roundabout after entering the little town.
We checked into the MC San Jose at 17:00h. in good time for afternoon tea (merienda) that was included in the room rate. High quality coffee, juice and homemade bakery.
The hotel’s cosy lobby where the sofa is built like a boat.
After coffee we found our room that was located with a small front yard next to the hotel’s patio. In the patio there is a swimming pool intended for swimming laps and a small outdoor bar. All very cosy, well kept and super clean. Everywhere flowing softly relaxing music ..
Our large room with huge bed
Apart from the size of the rooms being unusually large, so the bedding should highlighted. The crispest Egyptian cotton with the hotel monogram embroidered.
In the minibar there is free bottled water and throughout the hotel free Wi-Fi, so we could keep up with the news and social media.
The evening was spent in downtown San José – just a 10 minutes walk from the hotel.
About the town itself it can be said that it is a nice tourist town, very small and easy to get around with a marina and fishing port right in the center of the city, at the end of the main road. A small square where the whole town meet in the evening, and many cosy places where you can enjoy a glass of wine or beer. All within a few minutes walk from the hotel, so you do not have to take the car. We went for a stroll along the port to see the boats.
Then we dropped by a delicatessen which sells typical products from the area as well as serving wine and tapas.
The dinner was a pizza at Brigantino. There are two pizza places with the same name in the small town. One on the port, and one in the main street Calle Ronda. They both serve great pizzas, baked in wood-fired stone ovens . Unfortunately the staff in both places are not very service minded. But never mind! They do have my favourite Sicilian wine Corvo at just 12 € per bottle.
Sunday, April 26th
After a sumptuous breakfast, which of course was also included in the room rate, we decided to make a hike to a nearby fishing village Isleta del Moro – about 10 km – lineal.
From the hotel we went back towards the entrance of the town (there is just this one entrance). At the last roundabout we went right in the direction of the campsite and Playa Higuera. From here the road goes slightly upwards until the tarmac runs out. From here starts a track which must be followed more or less straight ahead (do not go right to the Playa Higuera) The track narrows after a short time into a path which rises steeply. One can see an old lighthouse on the top of a ridge.
Clearly marked path.
Although we didn’t need to go all the way up to the lighthouse, it serves as an excellent marker. It is not possible to go wrong. As long as the path is followed and as long as it goes steeply uphill. This bit is the only place during the whole trip which can be challenging. But the underfoot is quite stable, so it is just a matter of finding a pace that fits your fitness.
Once reached the top you are rewarded with the most stunning views back towards San José, Higuera beach and of the Mediterranean.
Now follow the coastline in a northerly direction (to the left when you stand looking out over the water). On the way we passed one small bay after another, all a little unique painting in themselves. I choose to let the photos speak for themselves. Besides the breath-taking views, we enjoyed on this trip the flora, which at this time of year is quite rich. A month or two further down the line, flowers will be scare as Cabo de Gata is one of Spain’s driest spots.
We followed the path along the water for about 6-7 kilometres, past an old fortress which at that date held a small market, where refreshments could be enjoyed.
Then we followed the asphalted road inland for about 1 km until we came to Isleta del Moro where we had a delicious lunch of mussels of various kinds and a wonderful tomato salad made of Raf tomatoes. Raf tomatoes taste like tomatoes should taste – like tomato!
The restaurant is situated only 5 meters from the water’s edge in the small fishing village where the boats are still pulled up on shore every night. And just as well, as this afternoon, a storm broke out, with gusts of more than 100km per hour. The small tent where we lunched was rattling so wildly that it was at times difficult to hold a conversation.
Isleta del Moro (old aerial photo)
After lunch we agreed therefore that we had walked enough and took with a local taxi (Vincente) back to San José and the hotel – again in time for afternoon tea.
In the evening we had dinner at the hotel. Three amazing delicious dishes for just 20 €. The hotel was also hosting a glass of local wine which was served in the hotel’s charming and cosy bodega. A pity that we were the only guests in the bodega that night. The restaurant had three tables occupied, so there was plenty of time to chat with the friendly service.
The cosy bodega in the hotel basement
We asked among other things if they knew what the initials MC stands for. They muttered something about Maria Carmen, the first name of the owner’s grandmother, but without being really convincing. I checked the web page of the hotel and found out that it stands for Monte y Cala (Mountain and Bay) – and nothing could be more indicative of San Jose as mountain and bay. It offers plenty of both.
Monday, April 27th
We made full use of our Helle Hollis rental car that day by driving up and down the coast visiting other small coves and fishing villages. Particular attention should be given to Agua Amarga (bitter water) which is a very nice, albeit sleepy bathing and fishing village.
If you are for total peace and quiet, then I recommend visiting Cala del Plomo (the led bay). There is no asphalted access road. Follow a dirt road of about 6 km. The bumpy ride is worthwhile when you come to a totally human deserted bay framed by the most beautiful rock formations.
Before we headed back to San José and the hotel’s afternoon tea, we just had enough time to see the lighthouse at Cabo de Gata. You can drive right up to the lighthouse, which offers the most amazing views.
Only complaint that day was that we neither saw seals nor dolphins. According to the signs it should be possible to see both species in the crystal clear waters which also are protected natural area.
From the experience that day again I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Tuesday, April 28th
Went back to Malaga – with a single stop in Almuñecar which we last time visited 25 years ago. A breath-taking development has taken place – in great contrast to our previous days in Cabo de Gata, where life goes quietly, and where man still has not conquered nature – thanks to the whole area being designated a natural park.
If you have been inspired to taking a trip to Cabo de Gata, remember that you have free mileage when you rent your car with Helle Hollis.
If you would like to know more about the trip to Cabo de Gata, then you are welcome to write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Malaga – San Jose: 235 km.
Hotel MC San Jose: 3 nights with breakfast € 204 through www.booking.com
Or directly from www.hotelesmcsanjose.com
Taxi Vicente 608056255 – took 15 € for the trip from Isleta del Moro to San Jose
The car you rent from www.hellehollis.com or call +34 952245544
Hans Hugo From, Director
Helle Hollis Car Rental