In 1982 the Direction General de Puertos y Costas (a national agency to oversee ports and coastline) ruled that all beaches in Spain should be public and removed the concept of a private beach. The laws relating to what you can and can not do on the beach stem from the 1988 and 2014 Ley de Costas which defines the public nature of the beach that can not be sealed of off for a private use. A 2014 update law introduced the concept of diferentiating 'Urban' from 'Natural' beaches. It empowers Junta de Andalucia, Consejería de Medio Ambiente (Regional Government Environment department) for the overall management and regulation, and empowers local town halls to regulate and set rules for for general use and be responsible for cleaning.
Here are some general rules about the Andalucia beaches. You can NOT drive motor vehicles, ride horses, bring dogs or other pets (in the summer or at any time), light bonfires, have gas bottles, camp overnight, leave litter, erect advertisements, sell goods or services, use soap or shampoo in the showers, swim in yellow buoyed channels for motor boat or dingy launching or swim in marinas, swim when red flag is flying. Motor boats and yachts must not enter the yellow buoyed bathing areas or come within 200m of the beach.
There are exceptions to the general rules above; bonfires on 'noche de San Juan' or bonfires in special Moraga (barbeque) locations provided by the Town Hall, some Town Halls do allow use of small barbeque units whilst others require pre-authorisatioin, guide dogs are permitted, there are a handful of authorised dog beaches (see below), authorised motor vehicles (such as police vehicles or beach cleaning tractors) are permitted and so is using a motor vehicle to launch a boat in specific zones maeked for this .
In Andalucia you will see many of these rules broken especially on more remote rural beaches. Don't be mistaken for the all maner of tents and canopies that locals erect during the day to provide shade in the summer, camping overnight (tents and caravans) is totally prohibited on beaches in Andalucia, this aspect is generally enforced.
If you want to organise a sporting or tourist events on a beach, it must be previously authorised by both Town Hall and Junta de Andalucia.
Torrox and Algarrobo town halls introduced rules against 'reserving' part of the beach with sun beds or umbrellas in 2014. In summer of 2016 Torrox council inspectors removed 500 objects. Nerja town hall issued beach by-laws in early 2018 which included the same. Penalty is a 30€ fine. Nerja also prohibited making sand sculptures without authorization.
Some town halls, such as Estepona, (Playa la Rada west end), Marbella and Fuengirola (Playa del Castillo) provide 'mock fishing boats' filled with sand for Moragas (barbeques) on the beach.
About beaches in Andalucia
Blue Flag Campaign started in 1987. Here you'll find a list of the Blue Flag Beaches in Andalucia and the Blue Flag Marinas. More >
Chiringuitos are bars on the beach. They serve drinks and food. Guide to the Beach Bars along the Costa del Sol.
Coasts of Andalucia
The Costa del Luz (Huelva) beaches tend to be long and wide, with fine golden sand.
The Costa del Sol is the most developed part of the Coast. The Mediterranean water is warm and safe. More >
The least well-known of the Costas, probably because the name is a recent creation for the coastline of Granada Province. Nevertheless it should not be overlooked. More >