SO here we are, together again. We have arrived at the second post of Estepona Escapades.
You know I can’t help but feel that the title makes it sound like I live a very thrilling, living on the edge sort of life. Really this couldn’t be further from the truth so please don’t be expecting an exciting roller coaster of danger and derring do.
This blog is far more likely to be a series of accounts of blundering and mishaps because this it what my family seem to do best.
However, we are truly blessed by the fact that we blunder our way along in a very lovely location indeed (that’s Estepona, in case you hadn’t made the connection or in case your thoughts have already drifted elsewhere and you’ve lost track) and so this is going to be the focus of my second blog post. I’m going to share my love and appreciation for Estepona with you!
There is so much to love about Estepona it has been difficult to know quite where to begin but, after much consideration I have decided to tell you, in no particular order, about my 10 favourite things to do here.
So, let’s begin!
1. Explore Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja
The Sierra Bermeja mountains are absolutely breathtaking. View them as the sun is going down and they positively radiate a beautiful red glow. View them on a clear morning and you will see them in amazingly clear detail. Make the extra effort and view them from the top and you will be rewarded with fantastic views for miles around. Los Reales is rather unique because it is quite rare for a mountain to reach such heights so close to the sea. It has its peak at 1449m and it is only 10km inland. Making the scenic drive up to the refuge which is near to the top only takes about an hour and then from the refuge you can walk a short distance further to reach the peak itself or you can just wander around near the refuge which is a great spot for a picnic, taking photographs and doing a bit of exploring. A word to the wise though, if you are travelling with children make sure they don’t enjoy too much of the picnic as the route back down again is a very winding one and I have learned from personal experience that it can result in a sudden onset of sickness!
2. Follow ‘La Ruta de Murales Artisticos’
Estepona has been subject to a major rejuvenation plan known as the ‘Garden of the Costa del Sol Project’ and one of the very impressive and popular features of this is the route of street murals. These are scattered all across the town and embarking on a murals hunt is an entertaining and unique way to spend an afternoon. The Tourist Information centre has a couple of maps that can be of help if you’re struggling to find them all. The route was started in 2012 and the murals are painted on the sides of buildings dotted around the town and they have transformed the walls into impressive pieces of art. Some of them are breathtaking and really do benefit from being seen in person to be fully appreciated. It was intended that they would rejuvenate some of Estepona’s neglected neighbourhoods and also become a tourist attraction and they certainly have done that. The murals are definitely a big talking point and I recommend you seek them out if you have the opportunity.
3. Visit the Orchid House
A recently completed development in the centre of town is the Orchid House and Botanical Gardens which features as its centrepiece a huge glass dome which is home to the 15000m3 orchid house. Visitors follow a circuitous path which takes them through the exhibits, behind a waterfall and over a mini lake getting you up close views of the orchids which offer some fabulous photographic opportunities. Having spent 20 minutes being told to walk quietly and behave themselves while in the Orchid House my two boys always love to get back outside and tear around the gardens afterwards, occasionally stopping to look at the plants and fountains.
4. Spend a morning at Estepona port
Estepona has a working fishing port where you can watch the boats return with their catch. The adjoining Puerto Deportivo is home to many bars and restaurants and is the site of a very popular market on Sunday mornings (more about that soon!). The marina is a wonderful place to have a look at the boats moored in the harbour, or to hire a boat if you are up for some sea bound fun or just to go for a relaxing stroll. My children love to watch the fish darting about in all directions from the waters edge and to walk along to the lighthouse where we can sit and watch the boats sailing in to the harbour and out to sea. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants in the port which are even more lively at night. ‘Louie Louie’ is one of my favourite places to go and see bands and is located in the port. It is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy live music although the bands don’t usually come on before midnight so don’t expect an early night!
5. Go to the beach!
We love going to the beach and Estepona has some fantastic ones. They are clean and well maintained and some have Blue Flag status. There are some picturesque coves dotted along the coastline, such as the popular Playa del Cristo, as well as many more endless stretches of golden sand of beaches such as Playa de la Rada in Estepona centro. Incidentally, Estepona is also home to Costa Natura beach which was the first official naturist site in Spain.
The paseo is an ideal place for a walk and it caters well for families. There are a few climbing frames on the beach, giant chess sets, floating inflatable play areas and pedal boats to hire in the Summer and there is a large playground with swings and slides and lots of climbing equipment on the paseo itself. We have spent many happy hours playing there with our children over the years, as well as a few not so happy hours searching for lost hats, locating misplaced teddies and several more trying to convince our children it is time to go home.
There are also many chiringuitos along the whole length of the paseo that try to tempt you in with the delicious smells emanating from their sardine boats. They are a wonderful place to sit of an evening and we can have a drink while we watch the children play as the sun goes down. The views of Gibraltar and Africa just across the water can be surprisingly clear on fine days.
6. Visit Los Pedregales park
We go to Los Pedregales park quite a lot as it’s a great open space and also a good location for collecting pine cones for the fire in the winter! There are two parts to Los Pedregales park; there are the more developed bits with playgrounds, picnic tables and open air barbecue facilities which are very popular with families and which can get quite busy at the weekend. This is a good place to hold a birthday party or have a barbecue if you aren’t averse to carrying all your paraphenalia through a bit of overgrown terrain. And then there is our favourite bit which is the wilder, undeveloped side of the park. We go in through the small side gate that has the Adana sign on it (the Adana rescue home for dogs is also through this gate and further up the mountain track a short way) where there are lots of pine trees and rocky tracks leading down to a stream that rushes over the pathway at the bottom and which can be quite deep in the rainy season. We love to take our dog up there and we all clamber over the rocks along the stream and climb up the tree covered slopes at the top of the hill. Los Pedregales is great fun for bracing walks, rock climbing and also for paddling in the rock pools during the warmer months.
7. Wander around Estepona town centre
One thing that I particularly appreciate about Estepona is the fact that it isn’t one of those town centres that could be anywhere with a faceless shopping streets full of the usual big brand shops. Instead its quaint little shopping streets are lined with small, independent shops and cafes. If you venture off of the main street and along some of the smaller back streets you will find some idyllic squares edged with cafes which are a perfect place to sit, have a drink and people watch. The back streets of the old town are a joy to walk around or, as I generally do, cycle around and whenever I do I usually discover something new, be it a church, a plaza or some other place of interest. The wonderful little houses that line these streets are beautifully embellished with colourful, wall mounted plant pots. It really is a lovely place to be.
8. Read the poetry plaques in Plaza Manuel Alcantara
This was a quite recent find, discovered while I was out on my bike exploring the back streets of town one day. This miniature plaza is in the centre of a cluster of incredibly beautiful little houses, each decorated with brightly coloured hanging baskets and along the way, peppering the walls of the houses you will see hand painted plaques bearing extracts of poems by the malagueño poet, Manuel Alcantara. These are part of a poetry route which includes extracts from works by other poets too.
9. Stroll around the markets
I love wandering around the street markets. In Estepona there is one in town on Wednesday and another at the port on Sunday. I don’t often get to either as I’m always working on Wednesday and I’m usually busy with some sort of family outing at the weekend so whenever I do have the chance to go I make the most of it. Both markets are always bustling with people and they have a great atmosphere. There are stalls selling clothes, jewellery, toys, ceramics, bags, sunglasses and shoes among others but my two personal favourites are the fruit and vegetable stalls and those selling herbs and spices. The markets are a great place to have a wander and browse.
10. Do something active at the sports ground
The sports ground, which is opposite the fire station, is a wonderful place where we frequently take the children and make use of the tracks, courts and wide open spaces there. My boys love to ride their bikes or scooters around the tracks, or play football or basketball or just run around with their dad while I usually sit at the café and have a coffee. Well, somebody has to look after the bags don’t they?!
11. Run up and down the rainbow steps
You don’t have to run up the rainbow steps. In fact many people walk up them in a very sedate fashion but my boys and I like to run up and down them. Not only is it good exercise for me it also tires my boys out wonderfully! I don’t know why the rainbow steps were painted this way but I do know that I am very grateful that they were because we love to see them whenever we drive by. They are a very colourful, unique addition to the town.
Ah, my top 10 seems to have evolved into a top 11. You see? That’s what happens when you live somewhere as wonderful as Estepona! There’s just so much to appreciate and it really is a unique place. With its 325 days of sunshine a year, a glorious micro climate due to its position between the mountains and the sea and with 21km of breathtaking coastline can you really afford not to come and visit?
For more hidden gems in Estepona visit www.thecrazytourist.com