Moraga on the Beach in Estepona
In Estepona, at either end of the Playa La Rada, you can find a number of fishing boats filled with sand which are used for moragas.
A moraga is a night-time barbeque party, usually held on the beach. It is traditional to Malaga province, but is also found in other parts of Andalucia. A moraga is differentiated from a barbeque in that the food being cooked is an espeto of sardines.
The party of festival has evolved over time. In the 19th century, it was traditionally held after catching fish in the shallow waters with small nets. The fish would be roasted on small wood fires made on the beach and the feast would be accompanied by an evening of evening of guitar music, singing and dancing.
Moragas still take place, but without the fishing, a simple fun day where wood roasted sardines, as well as other types of fish such as mackerel, are enjoyed.
The traditional of roasting of sardines on wooden sticks is a skilled operation. Many chiringuitos on the Malaga (and Andalucia) coast have been using old fishing boats filled with sand as the base for an espeto for the past 30 years. The boats are the ideal height and are painted in vivid colours to look traditional.
Estepona Town Hall (as well as Marbella and Fuengirola and others) have set up boats for residents and tourist to hold their own moragas. They are not actually wooden fishing boats, but steel skips painted to look like boats. These are available in the summer from 1 June to 30 September. You can find six boats in the La Escollera area near the port named Estepona, Malaga, Almeria, Cadiz, Huelva and Cordoba, with two boats at the other end of La Rada beach in the La Cala area, called Seville and Granada.
HOW TO RESERVE A MORAGA
If you want to reserve a moraga for yourself and your friends, go to the Archaeological Museum (old town hall) in Plaza Blas Infante and at the office of the 'Delegacion de Participacion Cuidana' (Dept of Citizen Participation) fill in the formulario de solicitud de Moraga (Moraga request form). You will need a present your ID or passport and know the date when you want to hold your moraga. There is no fee.
In theory this can only be done on the last day of the previous month. In other words; all requests for the month of September must be made on 31 August. The office is open from 07.30 to 15.00. However we are aware of reservations made a day earlier, so you could try then as well.
The moraga must finish at 02.00 and you must tidy up and put all rubbish in the bin provided.
Tips for holding a moraga
Remember you will need to bring along all you own facilities (fuel, espeto, chairs, tables etc) as only the sand bed on the mock boat is provided. Most people start their moraga in the late afternoon as the sun is setting. It can be quite a party atmosphere, with space for up to 40 people at each 'boat'.
The boats Estepona, Malaga, Almeria, Cadiz are conveniently located under street lights, so torches are not needed; however, at the other boats you will need you own illumination.
The moraga permission does not allow vehicle access to the area (which is owned by Empresa Publica de Puertos de Andalucia and not the Town Hall). There is a vehicle barrier and you will need to find parking either in the Marina or by the Bullring. The barrier is manned from about 20.00 to 23.30 by an employee of La Escollera restaurant, who only allows access for customers.
Do not underestimate the things that you will need to carry down to the beach for a successful moraga. Folding tables, beach chairs, firewood or charcoal, bricks to support a grill, the metal grill itself, food to cook plus salads and bread, serving plates, paper plates and cutlery, plastic cups (not glasses), a cool box full of drinks and ice. Plus beach towels and shawls for when it gets cooler later on.
Have a great moraga!