Driving Route along Cabo de Gato coast
San Miguel to Cabo de Gata
Starting from the village of San Miguel, look out on the left for the salt pans Salinas de Acosta, a vast 4km-long wetland created by a lagoon with blindingly white mounds of salt heaped up. Here you can see the ruins of an old village; the size of the church gives an idea of how important the salt industry must have been. Salt has been extracted from here for centuries since Phoenician times.
Just 3km after the San Miguel stone tower and on the left opposite a metal lookout tower on the beach is a dirt track that leads to a bird hide. You'll find it about 150m down the track from the beach, across the sand dunes.
The road then climbs steeply; look out for the ospreys nesting in the cliffs above the road, as well as peregrines, kestrels and eagles. The next cove is dominated by a lighthouse (faro). Legend has it that sailors mistook the sound of monk seals for mermaids on this headland so they called it the Arrecife de las Sirenas (the Reef of the Mermaids). From the hills of San Miguel and Vela Blanca, where there is an 18th-century watchtower, are some of the park's most magnificent panoramic views. You can see as far as North Africa on clear days, as well as the Salinas and along the coast.
one of the main Capes or Peninsular demarking the Spanish Mediterranean coastline.
There is a car park at the Cabo de Gata cape and lighthouse and access to a viewpoint looking down to Arrecife de las Sirenas. (Mermaid's reef) which is a good place to spot offshore seabirds such as razorbills, shags, cormorants, gannets and gulls.
The road carries on to the next headland but a barrier prevents vehicles from continuing. However, you can take a very enjoyable walk from here, 8km along a dirt track to the village of San José.
San José to Agua Amarga
By car this is a mainly inland route, which nonetheless visits the Cabo de Gata's principal beach resort of San José and a few other beaches, with fine views along this rugged stretch of coastline.
San José has a popular beach, alternatively you can walk around the headland west of town to Playa de los Genoveses.
Heading north to reach the next beach hamlet, Los Escullos, by car the AL-3108 road is inland. There is a park info point point at Pozo de los Frailes and a restored water wheel. The route turn right onto the AL-4200 for Los Escullos. Look out for the fort, unusual rock formations on the beach and a couple of hosteleries. One km further on, the tiny picturesque fishing village of La Isleta del Moro with more seafront cafe bars.
The road climbs beyond La Isleta to a viewpoint with superb views along this stretch of coastline, before turning inland again to Rodalquilar, a former gold mining centre and now with some abandoned houses. The mine has been closed since the mid-1960s, causing a population decline in the village. There is a botanical garden here, El Abardinal, displaying an excellent variety of plants that grow in the park.
One kilometre later, take the 2km-long track that heads right towards the coast. There is a fine sandy beach, El Playazo, and the Castillo de San Ramón, another 18th-century lookout tower. Back on the main road, you can take a detour to Las Negras, with its pebble beach, before continuing north. Take a right at Fernan Pérez, which will bring you on to the AL712 that leads to Agua Amarga, one of the most attractive resorts in Cabo de Gata and its northernmost village.
Three kilometres north of Agua Amarga is a great spot for views from the clifftop Mirador Punta de los Muertos on the headland. There is a car park here and you can walk down to the Playa de los Muertos.