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HOT Attractions - EAU ZONE

The province of Huelva is part of the beautiful Costa de la Luz in southwest Andalucía. An area of outstanding natural beauty and rich in seafaring history, this fascinating corner of Spain is the perfect place for a relaxing break...

Report: Carolyn Mowlem

Bathed by the sapphire waves of the Atlantic, the coastal region of Huelva – one of Andalucía’s best-kept secrets – is a wonderland of broad estuaries, soft sand dunes, vast nature reserves and pine-fringed virgin beaches stretching as far as the eye can see.

A leisurely three-hour drive from Marbella, the province of Huelva lies between Cádiz and Sevilla to the east, and Portugal to the west. Often referred to as the Spanish Algarve, together with neighbouring Cádiz the Huelva seaboard is also known as the Costa de la Luz. But while the eastern end of the Coast of Light is an international mecca for windsurfers, Huelva is a haven for the more gentle sports of canoeing, sailing, fishing and scuba diving.

It’s also a paradise of white sandy beaches (some as much as 25 kilometres long), where even in July and August, on the more deserted stretches, the only footprints you may see are your own. For lovers of wide open spaces, the peace and tranquility of coastal conservation areas, and a peppering of picture postcard fishing villages where life has all but stood still for centuries, Huelva is a breath of fresh air. An idyllic region to visit at any time of year, it is perhaps in September and October – during Southern Spain’s infinitely long Indian summers imperceptibly evolving into warm sunny autumns - that it’s at its very best.

Some of the finest beaches and most beautiful seascapes can be found in the municipality of Cartaya, between the historic city of Huelva and the Guadiana river separating Spain and Portugal. From El Rompido and Lepe… to Nuevo Portil, the estuary of the Piedras river is flanked by the spectacular La Flecha de El Rompido, a 12-kilometre sand-bar separating it from the blue Atlantic beyond. A fabulous place for boating, La Flecha has no fewer than four sailing clubs, is a favourite breeding place for swans who return year after year to raise their young, while at low-tide at Punta del Gato you can fish for clams with a simple net or even scoop them up with your bare hands. In the calm, protected waters of the 400-metre wide estuary, canoeing is a popular pastime, too, and there are organised day trips to the river mouth and back, a round trip of around 13 kilometres and – with lunch and a swim included – usually taking between six and seven hours.

Cartaya was founded by the Phoenicians, its original name, Carteia, meaning ‘the town’. The village of El Rompido, with a population of around just 500, retains its ancient fishing traditions as witnessed by its various lighthouses, the oldest of which dates back to 1861. There are plenty of family-run restaurants, as you would expect specialising in the freshest of fish and seafood landed the very same day, while the nearby market town of Lepe is renowned as the strawberry capital of Spain.

The 4-star Hotel Fuerte El Rompido adjoins a stunning links golf course, is a good base from which to explore Huelva, and is part of the well-known El Fuerte chain with sister establishments in Marbella and throughout Andalucía.

Close to El Rompido, the Parque Natural de las Marismas del Río Piedras is an extensive conservation area of salt marshes, coastal pine forests, sand dunes and tidal creeks, and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. It can be reached by a footpath leading from the lighthouse towards Caño del Tendal and the Pradera de San Isidro, while the world-famous Doñana National Park (declared a Unesco World Heritage Centre in 1980, and with a total area of more than 1,300 square kilometres extends into the adjoining provinces of Sevilla and Cádiz) is around 40 kilometres from the provincial capital.

Nestling close to the Portuguese border, the tiny island of Isla Canela is linked to the mainland by a road-bridge connecting it with Ayamonte, and has pristine beaches as well as a marina, golf course and a comprehensive range of water sports facilities, while Punta Umbria – a popular seaside resort near to the city of Huelva – has been welcoming British holidaymakers since the end of the XIX century when it was a favourite watering-hole of the expat employees of the Rio Tinto Mining Company. The Casa Museo de los Ingleses museum, opposite the harbour, and situated within a refurbished house of period English colonial style, commemorates the era.

The town sits on the banks of the Río Odiel estuary and is surrounded by the 7,000 hectares of salt marshes comprising the El Paraje Natural Marismas de Odiel - another Unesco site and Huelva’s second most important nature reserve – while other conservation areas nearby include the inviting sand dunes of El Paraje Natural de Los Enebrales and the La Laguna de El Portil with its cool, freshwater lagoon.

There are literally dozens of unspoilt beaches, and almost as many coastal conservation areas to discover… in fact, it’s the perfect place for a natural break.

FURTHER INFORMATION
Huelva Tourist Office:
Tel: (+34) 959 257 403
Official Website - Andalucia Tourist Board:
www.andalucia.org

Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 63 - 2006

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