Nerja is a lovely seaside resort town near Malaga, at the Costa del Sol’s eastern tip in Spain’s southernmost autonomous community in Andalucía. You can experience beautiful landscape, delicious food and a vibrant atmosphere while vacationing here. The region is also famous for its crystal clear waters that offer ideal conditions for those who wish to explore the Mediterranean Sea’s marine life. To find out where to go snorkeling in Nerja, here we feature the top spots!
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Nerja Snorkeling Conditions
Southern Spain is a year-round vacation destination with sunny weather in all seasons, that’s why its shoreline is called Costa del Sol that means sunny coast. Temperature-wise, the summer months are the hottest with average daily temperatures around 30C, while the coldest months are January and February with 17-20C daily temperatures.
To know how to prepare yourself if you plan to go snorkeling in Spain, it is important to talk about the area’s sea temperatures too since the water temp has quite different values depending on what side of the country you visit. Costa del Sol has colder water than for example the Balearic or Canary Islands.
The most comfortable months for swimming and water activities are June, July, August and September with an average water temperature between 21-23.5C. During these months, you will be comfortable in the water wearing a swimsuit only, but it is recommended to bring a 3mm thick wetsuit if you’d like to spend longer periods in the water. Winter snorkeling in also possible if the weather is sunny and the sea is calm, but only if you have a thick wetsuit (5mm or 7mm) since the sea temp drops to 14-16C.
In my opinion, the best time to explore Nerja snorkeling beaches are the shoulder seasons (end of May-mid June and mid-September to early October) when the air and water is the most pleasant, but the beaches are not overcrowded.
Best Beaches To Go Snorkeling in Nerja Spain
Those who look for the best snorkeling near Malaga should come to Playa Calaceite. This Nerja snorkeling spot is somehow overlooked and there isn’t too much information available online about its attraction, the big shipwreck that is easily accessible and can be seen from the shore too.
Calaceite beach is just outside Torrox, directly next to the national road. It is considered a wild beach without amenities, which might be not ideal for those who like urban beaches with services available but perfect for those who are looking for a relaxing location without crowds.
Entering the water is easy, but be careful not to hurt your leg on the rocks. The sea is deep enough for swimming after a few meters and the water is crystal clear. The wreck -which was a steamer tank transporting food to Malaga’s population- is marked with a buoy and lies about 100m from the shore at 5m deep. It became home to a wide variety of marine species: the remains of the ship are covered with sponges and anemones attracting many fish to the area, therefore Playa Calaceite is popular among spearfishermen too.
Playa del Maro is one of the most beautiful beaches near Malaga with attractive scenery above and under the sea. This clean beach that got the Blue Flag status too is a popular spot for snorkeling in Costa del Sol thanks to the many underwater caves and rock formations snorkelers can explore. Since Maro Beach is a protected area (Maro Cliffs Natural Park), the marine life is extraordinarily rich here. You can observe various fish species on the reef like groupers, wrasses and breams.
To get to Playa del Maro, drive towards Almeria on the N-340 national road. You need to exit at Maro. Take the first right at the roundabout after Hotel Playamaro and go straight. You will find a barrier where you need to pay 1EUR parking fee (or at least it was like this when we were there) to enter.
Approaching the beach, you will see white-marked parking spots, make sure to leave your car there and not on the other side of the road because you will get a fine. Depending on where you find parking, you can get down to the actual beach with 5-7 minutes long walk. The beach is organized: there is sunbed and kayak rental, toilets, shower, beach bar and small restaurant serving delicious food. The only negative thing about Maro Beach that it a bit difficult to access and can get busy in the peak season.
Playa de la Caleta
In the same area, just a few hundred meters from Maro Beach there is another cove called La Caleta that is equally as picturesque but less crowded. Personally, we liked it more than Maro because it has a laid-back atmosphere, but note that here there are no facilities except a guy who is renting kayaks and selling cold drinks from a cooler box, so make sure to pack all the gear you will need during the day.
Caleta beach is accessible from the same road than Maro, but you need to take the dirt track on the right where there is a Yoga Studio sign. From there, follow the Playa Caleta signs. It takes about 10 mins to get down to the beach. Alternatively, you can get there from Maro too by renting a kayak or swimming if you are a strong swimmer.
The best snorkeling can be found on the left side around the big rocks where we saw more fish species than at any other Nerja snorkeling spot. If you swim beyond the rocky outcrop, there is even a beautiful waterfall, Maro’s iconic attraction.
Playa de las Alberquillas
Those who find Nerja’s urban beaches too busy can find peace at Alberquillas Beach that never gets crowded, not even in the main season. This wide and about 400m long dark sand beach lies next to the N-340 road (like all other beaches we are talking about in this post). The entrance to Playa de las Alberquillas is at the KM299 marker.
Although the beach has no facilities since it lies within the Parque Nacional de los Acantilados de Maro nature reseve, it offers everything you can ask for to spend a fantastic day soaking up the sun and enjoying the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean Sea. There are impressive rock formations and underwater caves to explore and an abundance of fish around. And the best is, that if you walk along the shore or swim in the water, you can get to another nice beach, Playa del Molino de Papel where you can see the remains of an old watchtower.
Cala del Pino
Consisting of two coves divided by cliffs, Cala del Pino is a naturist spot right after Alberquillas. This is a hidden gem that remains unspoiled because it is a bit difficult to access. To get down, you need to descend on a short but steep path that is well worth the effort if you’d like to get away from the crowds, but not recommended for people with small kids.
Pino Beach has crystal clear waters and moderate waves. The algae and sponge-covered rocks and many underwater caves provide home to shoals of fish, crabs and octopus. The great variety of species found here makes diving and snorkeling a fantastic experience at Cala del Pino.
Cala del Canuelo
A little further east on the shore, the next beach for snorkeling in Nerja is El Canuelo. With dramatic cliffs, lovely coves and azure waters, this picturesque site is an excellent place for all nature-lover beachgoers. There is a restaurant here serving tasty seafood dishes at reasonable prices. Sun lounger rental is available in case you don’t bring your own.
Due to the area’s protected status, you need to leave your car in the parking at the top of the cliffs. During the high season, shuttle service is available for 2EUR (free for small kids), otherwise you need to walk about 20 minutes to get down to the water. The view while going down is so breathtaking that some people opt for the hike even if there is shuttle available!
Playa del Cantarrijan
The furthest snorkeling beach we recommend visiting near Nerja lies about 45 minutes by car from Malaga. Actually, Playa del Cantarrijan sits on the border between Malaga and Granada Provinces, this is the last beach before the village of La Herradura. Outside the main season, you can drive fully down the beach, but in the main season you need to leave your car in the upper parking and take the shuttle.
Cantarrijan beach provides a somewhat tropical feeling with high surrounding cliffs and lush vegetation. The waters are incredibly clear and full of sea creatures, so make sure to bring your snorkeling equipment! Even though swimsuits are optional here (like at many beaches in Spain), it is a family-friendly location with services such as chair hire, restaurant, bar and shower.
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