Torre del Mar photographed from the Paseo Marítimo
Dear Torre del Mar,
I admit it. I had never heard of you, two years ago. You, the quaint, quiet fishing beach-town on the East side of the Costa del Sol. And how I wish I had done! You had never appeared in holiday brochures or on the type of TV programme which brings shame on the drunken Brit abroad archetype… no.
When I first came to see you, in July 2016, I don’t know what I was expecting really. Awful karaoke bars? La Policia lining the streets ready to arrest inebriated holidaymakers into a cell for the night? None of this, in fact totally the contrary.
You know when you go somewhere and instantly catch a vibe there? You just feel good and can’t necessarily explain why but you know you do. Something in the air, something that drifts over you from across the sea. Just a general feeling of equilibrium and relaxation.
Espeto (sardines on a stick) at Playa de Torre del Mar
You have many cousins along the long stretch of the Costa del Sol, but there is something particular about you. There is an ambience of the old fishing town you once were and pretty much still are. I recall so many happy days laying there on my beach towel, feeling like I had stepped right back in time to the 60s in they heyday of holidaymakers on this sunny strip of southern Spain, watching the ever-calm tide breeze in and breeze out.
Occasionally, a little fishing boat sets sail and I will watch it float on towards the horizon, gently traversing the blue Mediterranean until all of a sudden it comes back to shore and out jumps the fisherman with a net filled with catches which go directly on to the grill.
Admittedly, I am not much of a fish fan but for people who are, there really couldn’t be fresher possible- what’s more, it only costs 3 euros for an espeto: a stick carrying (usually) three chargrilled sardines to eat on the go. They usually have a little boat converted into a grill and one of the main smells I associate with the beach here is the charred scent of the open flames here which burn all day and long into the night which you can see from afar, glowing here and there along the beachfront.
This one obviously came straight from my Snapchat!
Where we stay, in my boyfriend’s mum’s apartment, is right on the border with Vélez-Málaga to the West of Torre del Mar. However, walk along the pleasant Paseo Marítimo for 20 minutes and you find yourself in the hub of your tiny town. The eponymous torre stands there overlooking the bay, while far along the other side there is also a mini tower which throws out its nightlight for those fishing under the moon.
I will always remember when I was preparing for an 8k race that was to be held in Córdoba and was spending the weekend here with you. I went on a 6k practice run just as the sun was going down, casting a purple haze across the whole beach. I ran until the sun slipped behind the sea-line and silhouettes blurred out into burnt orange.
Eventually, I reached my distance target at the tower’s rock and came to an immediate halt. I stood for an indeterminate amount of time and saw how now everything was plunged into inky blackness except for the ribboned streams of light across the water cast from beach bars and seafood restaurants. I was so hot from running in early September’s heat yet I cannot aptly describe the sensation of the sea spray hitting me from the rocks below, watching the beam from the lighthouse oscillate across the darkness.
I tried to photograph this but often in moments like these, it just can’t be captured.
Torre del Mar at nightfall, taken from the mini lighthouse on the West side
Although not wild, there is some nightlife, the odd club or cocktail bar here and there but the highlight for me is the host of tropical themed bars flanked in palm trees which are lit up with music and dancing after sunset.
What’s more, you are so closely positioned to nearby Nerja, Maro and Frigiliana that a 20 minute car journey provides you with a totally different day out. Apart from your slightly rough sand, you would never guess that you were on the Costa del Sol due to the lack of foreign tourists. This is where Spanish people go on holiday, especially city-based fellow Andalucíans looking for a reprieve from the harsh inland heat. No souvenir shops; definitely no tack.
“You know when you go somewhere and instantly catch a vibe there? You just feel good and can’t necessarily explain why but you know you do. Something in the air, something that drifts over you from across the sea. Just a general feeling of equilibrium and relaxation…”
Sometimes, we pin something on a place; a memory or an experience or a feeling. I can think of places more exotic and more beautiful than Torre del Mar however I can’t think of many other places which give such a feeling of tranquility and ease as here. Waking up and rolling up the metal Persian blind to the sight of the sun rising above the sea, and the domingueros (Sunday beach visitors) setting up camp with marquees and tables ready to be laden with Sunday tapas and drinks, usually Cruzcampo or a bottle of tinto con limon. Money is never a worry here as it is all so cheap and the weather is sunny, lovely and warm for around 320 days a year!
Torre del Mar is not connected to the cercanías metro line of Málaga West which makes it slightly less accessible however there is a bus which runs from Málaga airport via ALSA.
Alternatively, if hiring a car to drive around Andalucía or indeed, wider Spain, choose Torre del Mar for the real deal over built up Brit-built package holiday resorts over to the West.
So, now we are in April I am SO looking forward to my first visit this year since October last year! When sometimes all we need is a weekend to recharge our batteries and experience a bit of the easy-going life, Torre del Mar has all of this without the pomp nor pretence.
I will get my suitcase ready for the warmer weeks that await us!
Hasta pronto Torre del Mar,