Out of Huelva´s 74 miles of coast you can probably swim in more than seventy. Sadly, almost half of them are protected natural spaces, and Spain´s planning codes don´t allow building on them, even if not protected, so you cannot have your dream house on the sand. Other than that, you can find everything else along the coast: fishing villages, monuments, marinas, golf courses, luxurious developments, modest communities, lively cities, quiet towns...
At the mouth of the Guadiana river, Ayamonte, the largest town after Huelva city, enjoys seven kilometers of pristine beaches divided between Isla Canela and Punta del Moral. Just very recently developed, these two coastal enclaves combine the raw landscapes shaped by the river meeting the ocean with modern developments of apartments and villas. The marina and 18-hole golf course provides a more upscale leisure option, which you can alternate with the gastronomy of the fishing village.
Ayamonte, the city, is full of history, culture and traditions. The Roman mausoleum witnesses every year a prestigious Music Festival and the National Painting Award, and Easter is honored with a fervor and luster at pair with any of the major Andalusian celebrations. The Guadiana river provides a wide range of nautical recreation, and performs as the beautiful natural frontier between Spain and Portugal. You can cross it through Europe´s longest zipline or, more conveniently, using the splendid cable-stayed international bridge. No customs, no passport control, just a whole different country eight hundred yards away.
Isla Cristina is known for its fishing port and industry, producing some of the best canned fish in the country and an exquisite gastronomy based on the freshest daily catch.
The beaches of El Cantil, Punta del Caimán, Santana, El Hoyo and La Redondelaspread along 13 kilometers, combining the almost virgin spaces with stylish tourist developments. The Natural Reserve of the Marshes of Isla Cristina adds to the beauty of the coastline, with well designed walkways and wooden bridges.
When it comes to celebrations, the town´s carnival is considered the third most important in Spain after Tenerife and Cadiz´s, with a history of almost two hundred years. During 21 days, the streets of Isla Cristina and its local theater reveal the imagination and the joy for life of the isleños, with colorful parades, festivals, dancing and performances.
The industrious city of Lepe claims fame for the discovery of new cultivating practices for strawberries –exported all over Europe– and its 18 kilometers of beaches, namelyLa Antilla, Islantilla and La Umbría.
El Terrón fishing village speaks for the maritime tradition of the area –Rodrigo the Triana, the sailor who shouted “land!” in Columbus´s first voyage was from Lepe. Very close, the estuary of the Piedras river forms the Flecha del Rio Piedras, a sand bar stretching 2.5 kilometers in parallel to the coast and creating one of the prettiest and wildest beaches in the Spanish litoral.
The beaches at La Antilla and Islantilla attract family tourism from neighboring provinces but also fans of naturism and a more upscale crowd addicted to golfing all year round in the privileged natural setting of its 27-hole course.
The Flecha del Rio Piedras runs parallel to the fishing village of El Rompido –it is most commonly known as “Flecha del Rompido”— and continues through the beach developments of El Potil and El Nuevo Portil.
Here again marshlands of high natural interest complete the setting for a perfect offer of leisure and lifestyles. From the laid back, slow pace of the old town of El Rompido to the modern developments of apartments and villas around the two elegant golf courses of El Rompido and Nuevo Portil.
A lush pine forest carpets the way inland to the village of Cartaya, with its thriving agricultural industry and the old Andalusian town flavor revealed in its churches, streets and council buildings.
Punta Umbría was discovered as a vacation paradise by the British employees of the Rio Tinto mining company, back in the XIX century. They would cross the whole province and then take a boat to navigate the Odiel river to obtain the reward of 14 kilometers of fine sand beaches of an specially calmed beauty.
The peninsula created by the mouth of the river and the ocean is a space full of natural protected spaces, from pine forests to marshlands. Originally a fishing town, Punta Umbría became the favorite spot for local tourism, and in the last years it has expanded its offer emphasizing the outdoors and nautical activities through its renovated marina.
Huelva´s east coast is an extension of the impressive dunes of Doañana National Park, which form a 25-km beach of breathtaking beauty and zero urban developments in sight. You can walk into it and feel like the last person on Earth.
From Matalascañas –next to the Park– to Mazagón –close to the mouth of Odiel and Tinto rivers–, another thirty kilometers of mostly virgin beaches remind us of Huelva unparalelled natural abundance. They are officially cataloged as the two longest beaches in Spain and probably Europe.
To reach some of these almost secluded beaches you have to cross dunes and pine forests through wooden walkways, the only human print in the landscape. That is the case with Cuesta Manili –a favorite of naturists–, Torre del Loro and Castillabeaches. On top of them, Malibu-like cliffs provide the perfect outlook from which to enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
Mazagón, traditionally a family summer spot for neighboring towns, is revamping its services and leisure offer, adding a modern sports marina to its renovated Parador(state-run hotels in building of historical/scenic interest).