Set Sail to Almerimar
Spanish yachting marinas and the surrounding areas are often overlooked by tourists who don’t click with the boating culture or prefer more standard holiday resorts. That’s a pity since they’ll miss out on relatively undiscovered towns such as Almerimar, a 40 minute drive west from Almería Airport.
Although purpose-built as a marina and golf resort, the area is predominantly Spanish and supported by the booming fruit and vegetable industry of nearby working city, El Ejido. In fact, per capita, the El Ejido area is one of the wealthiest in Spain, and yet with its ugly surrounding ‘plastico’ greenhouses and industrial outskirts, one would not necessarily expect this to be the case. Like many parts of Spain, however, much lies under the surface in terms of culture, facilities, lifestyle and fiestas.
If you’ve passed the first test by ignoring the unsightly plastic desert and head south to the coast, you will soon happen upon the pleasant palms, calles and verdant gardens on the descent to Almerimar. The area is built up with a mix of apartment blocks and more attractive Spanish whitewashed villas. Fortunately, development has ceased in the area and is spared from the high-rise nightmares of other resorts on the Costas.
Within the town there are some superb cafes, restaurants and bars that overlook the marina yachts and motorboats. The scene is laidback and quite sophisticated with local restaurants surrounding the ‘darsenas’ (wharfs or docks) serving every culinary delight from tapas, seafood, paella, to pizzas and steaks. In the summer months, the Plaza Varadero is very popular with tourists and locals alike. Often bands play well into the early hours, so be aware if your accommodation is nearby. The Fosil Bar in the plaza is a good place to head for a non-touristy crowd looking for a diverse range of live music along with some great cocktails – the events at the bar seem to crop up out of the blue, but the Spanish locals know about them through word of mouth or the bar’s Facebook page.
Throughout the summer in Almerimar there are some incredible fiestas to look out for. La Noche de San Juan is one of the biggest beach parties on earth as it happens around the entire coast of Spain and can be seen from space. The fiesta runs all night with bonfires being lit along the length of Almerimar’s considerable ‘Poniente’ and ‘Levante’ beaches. The fiesta Virgen del Carmen is another beautiful occasion that begins with a ceremony at the marina tower, followed by a procession as the ‘marineros’ – proud local workers at the marina – lift the Virgen statue upon their shoulders and walk her to a motor launch at the town wharf. Here, she is transported out to sea followed by a flotilla of boats bobbing about and racing by in the wash. A further ceremony takes place on the water, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display. The whole event is quite moving as it is a traditional belief that the Virgen bestows good fortune on those going to sea.
Almerimar is positioned in Europe’s only desert and makes for a very hot, dry climate for much of the year. It can get chilly in the winter months, but even during this time it is often T-shirts and shorts weather. Despite its quiet and low-key style, there are plenty of activities to get involved in the town and surrounding areas. Ask around and you will soon glean some inside knowledge of what’s on offer: hiking, horse riding, surfing, kitesurfing, diving, yachting, biking to name just a few. Windsurfing is very popular and significant since Almerimar is home to world Champion, Victor Fernández, who you may be lucky to catch doing some breathtaking jumps and wave riding on windy days.
Overall, the climate, prices, and facilities in the area are excellent, so if you’re looking to escape the crowds, have access to some great beaches, but also have plenty to do, Almerimar could be well worth a visit.