The secret’s out in Spain’s Alcaidesa

IT is one of the least known resorts on the Costa del Sol. And no-one’s complaining.

While sitting in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar, Alcaidesa retains an Andalucian charm that is exceptionally resilient to the corrosive tendencies of tourism.

Comprising a decent collection of low-rise developments and villas, tumbling down to a sleepy village centre and beach, its feather in the cap is a testing championship links golf course.

Thanks to its powerful ‘Architectural Control Committee’, development is strictly controlled in Alcaidesa rendering beady-eyed developers toothless on this glorious stretch of coastline between Sotogrande and La Linea.

Al Snip
Photo: Your Golf Travel

Just a small beachside hamlet prior to its growth in the 1990s, there are still remnants of history scattered about.

In particular it has one of the oldest lighthouses in southern Spain.

Built in 1588, and later restored in the 18th century, the Torre de Punta Mala has been guiding ships since the final embers of the Muslim reconquest faded out.

Next door is the Casa de Carbonera (Charcoal-maker’s house), even older, and with equal amounts of charm.

A century older than the lighthouse it sits just above the wonderful Playa Balñario, in part nudist if that’s your cup of tea.

One of the coast’s loveliest beaches, you are just a bucket’s throw to the Alcaidesa Links Golf Course, with its stunning views to Gibraltar and Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

Inspired by traditional Scottish courses but with an Andalucian twist, the course has played host to three PGA championships since it opened in 1992.

Alcaidesa is the perfect makeweight to its bigger sister Sotogrande and has also become a popular retreat for high-flying Europeans, thanks in part to the popular Aldiana hotel, which feels like a relaxed colonial-style country club.

Al Your Gold Travel Snip 2
Photo: Your Golf Travel

While it feels completely rural with amazing views, you are only a short drive to nearby Marbella or Algeciras, with its range of good places to eat.

For those visiting for the day, the pomp and splendour is quickly apparent, but you don’t have to break the bank, eating at the beachside chiringuito One Eden.

This wonderful restaurant offers an excellent mixed menu and ice cold beers, my pick being its fresh pomegranate and feta salad, the perfect bite in the scorching heat of an Andalucian summer.

Next door is the also-rated DBlanco Alcaidesa, focussing on Spanish staples like croquetas and gambones.

From here you are a short stroll to the Guadalquitón Nature Reserve, a protected stretch of beach, dunes, wetlands and a cork oak forest.

Part of the Alcornocales Natural Park, it is the final stretch of undeveloped coastline from La Linea to Malaga and its unspoiled natural scenery forms a protective green buffer for the resort’s prime real estate.

Parque Snip
Photo: Wikipedia.

Open to hikers and birdwatchers, Guadalquitón and the estuary of the nearby Guadiaro River is literally teaming with wildlife.

A major migration spot for birds flying to Africa, a short amble into the reserve grants a front row seat to marvel at Swifts, Honey Buzzards and Egyptian Vultures.

Formerly known as a hidden gem among those-in-the-know, the Alcaidesa secret is slowly beginning to get out.

“The place has changed a lot in the past few years,” explains Sandra Lamplugh at One Eden, the area’s main development firm. “The Links course has just been redesigned and there are lots more facilities here.”

As the place has changed, so too has the clientele.

Formerly the reserve of Brits and Spaniards, Sandra explains her clients are today a European melting pot of Belgians, Poles, Dutch, Germans, and Scandanavians.

“Though we are now very much on the map, Alcadeisa is still a very tranquil, unspoilt area,” she explains.

As I wander back to my car three Swedes walking past say hello. Looking round to the wonderful green hills one gestures an arm towards the backdrop. 

“It’s not bad, eh?” he says. Indeed, not bad at all.

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