Breña y Marismas de Barbate Natural Park
Created in 1989, the Breña y Marismas de Barbate park is Andalucia's second largest coastal reserve and has one of the most spectacular stretches of rocky cliffs along the Andalucian Atlantic coastline, with stunning views over the sea and to the rocky headland of Cape Trafalgar and its lighthouse.
Ancient watchtowers stand guard along the cliffs overlooking the sea, where local fishermen catch tuna used in the nearby canning factories and to produce the delicacy of mojama, cured tuna.
Although it is the smallest out of the 22 natural parks in Andalucia, it contains a rich variety of habitats: pine forest, wetland, mobile dunes, sea cliffs and a marine section, which, with 940ha, occupies around a fifth of the total protected area of 4,863.
The Pinar de la Breña is an extensive densely wooded area that stretches from the cliffs inland, between Barbate and Caños de Meca. The umbrella pines provide shade for a rich variety of Mediterranean wildflowers. Apart from fishing, one of the park's main natural resources are the pine nuts collected from the Pinar de la Breña.
The park includes an major wetland area, the 2,500ha Marismas de Barbate, which was added to the park later, in 1994. It attracts numerous migrating birds, as well as many waders and gulls.
Phoenicians used this coastline as a base for exporting their fish and introduced their system of fishing (almadraba) and salting their catch.
There is no road along the cliffs between Barbate and Caños de Meca, but you can walk along the coastal path between the two villages. See our section on walks.
The marismas can be seen from the bridge south of Barbate, on the CA2223 road that leads to Zahara de los Atunes. There is also a walk, the Sendero Marismas de Barbate, around the marshland.
Sendero de los Acantilados is a linear route of around 6km along the coastal footpath that links Barbate to Caños de Meca, with wonderful views along the coast and out to sea. Don't go too the… More →
Torre de Meca, a 15th-century watchtower, was built as part of a coastal defensive system to warn of a Berber pirate invasion. Watchkeepers would either light a fire or send smoke signals to… More →
From Barbate take the CA2143 to Caños de Meca. This is the principal road through the park and it passes through the Pinar de la Breña. You can stop off this route and go for a walk in the pine… More →
The Breña pine forest is made up mainly of umbrella pines (pinus pinea) planted in the late 19th century. There is a significant population of the endangered prickly juniper (juniperus oxycedrus… More →
Located on the approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar, the park is an important stopping place for migrating birds, as well as providing an important nesting site for various species of birds on… More →
There are many hotels to choose from in and around Caños de Meca. Villages close to the park include Conil de la Frontera, further west along the coast, and the delightful inland village of Vejer… More →
Campings near the Breña y Marismas de Barbate Natural Park.