Beachin’ It in Málaga on the Costa del Sol

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!

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

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!

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

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.

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

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!

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

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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Málaga Beach On The Costa Del Sol In Spain

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  • Emmymom
    November 5, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    Yes, I love love that hand shot! So awesome. That sand definitely does look different than what I am used to. The Pacific Ocean off the California coast is cold, so yeah, I spend most of my time at the beach not in the water.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 6, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      I’ve heard the Pacific is cold! I’d be up on the beach with you! Most of my summer vacations were spent in the Gulf of Mexico where the waters are so warm – I miss that!

  • Mandy Southgate
    November 5, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    This is where Stephen and I went on honeymoon – we were in nearby Fuerngirola. You definitely need to {try} swim in the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town. The Med is soup in comparison!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    November 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    I miss the beach!! Looks like Lexie had a ball :)

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    November 3, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    I never really went on a beach holiday until this year, and I’ve gotta say there’s something to it! I don’t blame Lexie, everyone had to drag me from the beach every time we went.

  • rorybore
    November 3, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    I LOVE that picture of the sand on her hands. post card worthy! It looks like a beautiful beach and I am sure it cannot be anywhere as cold as our Canadian lakes, so I would bet I would feel right at home.
    Gosh, I haven’t been in the actual ocean in over 10 years!! Imagine that.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 4, 2014 at 8:06 PM

      Oh, yeah. No way is the Mediterranean as cold as Canadian lakes, at least not where we were in Spain, but I’m a big baby and prefer bathwater temperatures. ;) And I thought four years was bad – 10 is like a lifetime in beach years!

  • Miwa
    November 1, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Amazing photos!!! That first shot took my breath away. And you definitely can’t tell from Lexie’s expression that the water was freezing cold! What a beautiful place.

  • topchelseagirl
    November 1, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    It looks like Lexie really enjoyed herself!

  • Katrin
    November 1, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    That looks like a fun time at the beach, you guys all look gorgeous! I have not been to the beach in ages (other than at the North sea in fall) but I am scared of deep water anyway and would never get into the water. :) So you are braver than I would ever be!

  • Maggie woodward
    November 1, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    I often visit Málaga for the day, but rarely visit the beach. I love the spontaneous dancing that beaks out on the streets, by both old and young (and all ages in between). How wonderful that children are thought to dance flamenco at school. Lovely photos – I also love the one with sandy hands.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 1, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      I didn’t realize they were taught flamenco in schools! What a great way to keep a piece of the culture from dying out! We went to a flamenco show in Seville and I was mesmerized, both by the dance and the sound. I wish I could move like that!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    October 31, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    We went to Benalmadena twice, which is just south of Malaga, and the sand/rock/crushed up shell beach was the same. It was also that it was tiny, flat pieces that if you did spend any time in the freezing surf it would stick to your skin (even inside your suit!). We would have to scrape it off with our fingernails to remove all the tiny pieces, because, oh no! Don’t think that when your skin dried it would just fall off. Nope! Ha! We loved that area!! I was also surprised at how cold the water was!

  • Rachel G
    October 31, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Looks like a gorgeous beach! I can definitely tell from the pictures that the sand is coarse, a little different from what we might expect. I lived about 50 feet from the Indian Ocean for 4 years and my husband grew up surfing regularly along the California coast–we definitely have a love for beaches!

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 1, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Where were you living when you lived 50 feet from the Indian Ocean? That sounds like a dream!

      • Rachel G
        November 1, 2014 at 9:19 PM

        In Malaysia. It was a working beach (where fishermen kept and launched their boats and cleaned their nets), not really a swimming beach, but we had many a fun afternoon BBQ there.