Natural Parks - Alcantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Area

The viewing point and restaurant at Cerro Gordo. © Sophie Carefull
The viewing point and restaurant at Cerro Gordo.

Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Area

This is a unique stretch of near-virgin coastline in Malaga, which runs for 12km east of Nerja to La Herradura in Granada province and covers an area of 1,815ha, including a protected part offshore. Its dramatic rocky steep cliffs (acantilados) plunge down to the sea, leaving a few sheltered bays with beaches inbetween, which can be accessed via staircases or tracks. Located on very edges of the Sierra Almijara, these limestone outcrops have been eroded by the sea and weather into fantastic shapes, with offshore stacks and arches and undersea caves like the Cueva de los Genoveses and the Cueva de la Cajilla.

 

BEECHES

Its popularity with visitors particularly in the summer months means that the beaches can get overcrowded. Camping on the beach, fishing in the protected waters and driving motor vehicles down to the coves and beaches in the coastal park are forbiden. The athletic may walk or cycle.

There are a number of beaches that are served by special minibus in the summer months. One example is Playa Cañuelo another Playa Cantarriján, a naturist beach. 

 

Playa Cantarriján is a secluded cove, catch the minibus from the main road to get down to it. © Sophie Carefull
Playa Cantarriján is a secluded cove, catch the minibus from the main road to get down to it.

 

Access

The N340 coastal road has superb views of the area and there are a few signposted parking areas between Nerja and La Herradura, from where it is possible to go down to the beach. Driving motor vehicles down to the coves and beaches in the coastal park are forbiden.  At Km 297 on the N-340 is a short path towards the Torre de Maro, which has great views along the coast.  

For Playa Cañuelo, park your car just of the N-340 at GPS 36.750473N,-3.783031W and wait with the other tourists in the green tin shelter for the minibus. Return ticket is €2 per person, pay the driver.

For Playa Cantarriján, you can do the same just down the road. Wait for the bus at 36.738463, -3.776566 and pay the driver. 

 

 

Flora

Apart small numbers of pine trees, holm and Kermes oaks, locust trees and wild olives, the main vegetation in this area is Mediterranean scrubland, made up of lentisc, rockroses, dwarf fan palms, rosemary and gorse. In the rockier and less accessible parts is the endemic and rare sea lavender limonium malacitanum, which is only now found in a few places along this stretch of coastline. It is under threat of extinction because so many visitors to the area have been picking it.

 

In the offshore section of the protected area are some important underwater marine species of plant, like a type of seaweed found here, the posidonia oceanica, and coral.

Fauna

Mammals like the weasel, marten, fox, hedgehog and badger and reptiles such as lizards and chameleons inhabit the area. The acantilados are rich in birdlife, particularly gulls, like black-headed, lesser black-headed and herring gulls. Gannets, grey herons and raptors such as black kites, Bonnelli's eagles, kestrels and buzzards can be seen wheeling overhead.

The marine part of the area is rich in crustaceans, molluscs and fish like bream, grouper, conger eels and moray.