Four years ago we were living in central Florida, far enough from the coast that we couldn’t hit the beaches every day, but close enough that a Saturday spent laying on the sand and soaking up the skin cancer was only a little further away than driving down to Disney World. A prime spot for a family with a school-age kid, I think. While we certainly took advantage of our annual Disney passes (almost 40 visits in one year!), I can’t say the same for the beach. Maybe it was because we were so busy all the time with work and school-related activities, but we really didn’t take advantage of our proximity to the coast like we should have. However, if I’d known that once we moved away, it would be four years before we spent a day by the ocean again, I’m pretty sure I’d have made more of an effort to see it more often!
When we were planning out our Spain trip, Lexie’s request was pretty simple – she wanted to go to the beach. It didn’t matter to her what the beach looked like or where it was – if it had water and sand, she was good to go. I, on the other hand, wanted to see a pretty one. Since we were already going to be in the south of Spain, somewhere along the Costa del Sol was the obvious choice. In Andalusia, the general consensus among other bloggers and travel writers seemed to be that if you were looking for a beach not yet completely destroyed by the tourism industry, then you needed to go to Nerja. The problem for us was, Nerja was too small a town to offer high-speed trains and we needed one to take us back to Seville on our last day so we could catch our flight back to London. At this point, we needed to find a bigger town to stay in, close enough to Nerja that we could visit for the day, but one that also offered us a route back to Seville. That’s when we hit on Málaga – the largest coastal town in Andalusia. It fit all our requirements, plus it offered a beach of its own!
We arrived in Málaga around 5pm and the size of the city plus the amount of people walking around was a bit of a shock after spending the previous 24 hours in a remote town like Ronda. It didn’t take us long to acclimate to the new setting, though. It was exciting being in a place so very different from the two other Spanish cities we’d seen so far. After making our way from the bus station and through the busy shopping district where we were staying, we met our contact to collect our keys to our apartment for the next two days – a full apartment all to ourselves! – and then were off to eat (an early by Spanish standards) dinner so we could spend the rest of the day/evening at the beach!
Besides a beach town, Málaga is also a popular harbor for cruise ships, naval ships, and lots and lots of expensive yachts. We passed by all of these on our way to the beach, a good 15-minute walk from our apartment. In general, shipping harbors do not typically have the nicest beaches next to them, so I began to worry a little when I saw just how big of a port this was, but then I noticed just how many people in beach gear were heading back to the city (it was after 7pm by this time) and figured, even if it’s ugly, at least we’ll have it to ourselves! But my worries were for nothing – the beaches in the city of Málaga may be less attractive than others along the Costa del Sol, but to us, people who haven’t seen a beach in four years, they were beautiful!
To our delight, the beach was beginning to clear out as people who’d spent all day in the water began returning to town. We found a quiet spot far away from the harbor and the tiki huts and settled down to enjoy the last few hours of daylight. Thank goodness for those long summer days!
Maybe it’s because all of my previous beach days were spent in Florida and various places in Asia, but somehow I’d never been to a beach where the waters are any cooler than lukewarm bath water, until Spain. Holy frostbite – the Mediterranean was freezing! Lexie, like some kind of warrior on a battlefield, ran straight into the water, kicking and splashing until she was covered up to her chin. Me? I took twenty minutes just to get in knees-deep when, in a very uncharacteristically cruel move, Lex decided to splash me with tiny ice shards. I ran screaming back to my towel and didn’t get back in the water for the rest of the day. Thankfully, Cory was willing to take one for the team and stay in the water with her.
For the next hour or so, I felt like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption (still one of my favorite movies) when he earned himself and his friends the opportunity to sit back on the prison rooftop and drink a few beers in the glow of the setting sun. He doesn’t join in with them – he simply sits back and watches with a smile on his face. I felt that same peaceful feeling as I laid back, elbows in the sand, watching my two favorite people joyfully splashing each other in the water with the sun warming my bare shoulders. This is why I wouldn’t mind living near the coast again someday – I’d make sure to show the beach a little more appreciation next time around, too.
As the sun began to set, even Lexie got too cold to stay in the water, so it was sandcastle time! Well, as good of a castle as you can make without any tools or even a shovel or bucket. Which means we constructed more of a sand mound, distinguishable from the surrounding piles of sand only by the amount of seashells we used to decorate it, but a sandcastle, nonetheless.
The sand in Málaga is interesting – it appears to be made up more of tiny little rocks and pieces of shell than any actual fine grain sand. It doesn’t hurt, per se, but it’s definitely not the soft kind you wouldn’t mind being buried up to your neck in in the shape of a mermaid or anything. It does, however, look very cool in photos – that top picture of Lexie’s hands is one of my favorites I’ve ever taken!
After the sun went down, Lexie made one last ditch effort to stay a little longer by running back into the ocean and taunting us with her singsong come-and-get-me’s, but it didn’t work. I’d have felt bad for making her leave the beach only two hours after we arrived if we hadn’t have already made plans for another full beach day in Nerja the next day. We gathered up our things, Lexie grudgingly lagging behind, and walked back to our apartment, stopping to take the token photo with the Málaga sand sign first, of course.
On our way back, almost right in front of our apartment, we ran into a spontaneous old lady dance party. Just kidding – their dresses indicate this was probably a flamenco performance, but we were pretty baffled at the time. The crowd surrounding them was so large we thought they might be famous, but more likely everyone else was just as interested as us at seeing the moves these ladies could come up with. (I love a good old-fashioned dance-off!)
We tried to get to bed early (as in midnight) but since Málaga doesn’t settle down until the wee hours of the morning and we were situated right in the middle of it, it was a pretty late night for us. Luckily, all we needed to perk back up the next day was a strong coffee and the incentive of a new beach to discover!
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