In the very heart of Cabo de Gata

Text: Nacho Sánchez

Flavors define Cabo de Gata —located in Spain’s province of Almeria— as do its crystalline waters, its white sand beaches, coves or arid landscape. All of these have led the area to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Small, pinkish Caridean shrimp is the best example of exceptionality and flavor. There are also mussels, octopus, sole, white shrimp from Motril, goatfish and an ample variety of rock fish.  

Perhaps one of the best places to deepen into the idiosyncrasy of this Nature Park is the hamlet of Rodalquilar. This sleepy settlement falls within the municipal territory of Nijar, and has some 200 inhabitants. It is a small paradise in the very heart of the landscape that is peaceful even in summer.  One of its most charismatic establishments is La Despensa (meaning the pantry). It is a small grocery store that is open from 10 am until 10 pm and a real lifesaver. The store offers an excellent variety of local delicacies, in addition to delicatessen products from all over Spain, homemade bread in addition to produce from the shops own vegetable garden. The hamlet also offers a variety of options to delight your tastebuds….from the careful cuisine of La Tasquilla to Italian products at Panpepato or snacks (known locally as tapas) at El barecillo. 

Rodalquilar is home to one of the best beaches in the area: El Playazo. The extensive beach offers transparent water and is accessible by the entire family, with an area for those who enjoy naturism. But there is more… nearby, only a few minutes away, there are a series of coves—some, for better or worse, are well hidden—to the site known as Isleta del Moro to the south. Once again, long white sand beaches are found, the same as in San José with its ample cost (Los Genoveses, El Mónsul, Barronal…). 

North
Nevertheless, it is a stroll north where true surprises await you. The first stop—a MUST—is Las Negras, a hamlet that has embraced tourism. It has a small boardwalk from where you can enjoy the greatest sunsets at La Bodeguiya —a bar that is a spacious as it is charming. Its beaches, as well as those of nearby Cala de San Pedro —as are most of the beaches in the area— are a true pleasure for divers, whether fully equipped with an air tank or for the more amateur in which case snorkeling is the best option. The road continues north; the next stop could very well be Agua Amarga, a truly tourist town. From here, you are just a stone’s throw away from Cala de los Muertos, one of the area’s most famous beaches. It is a good distance away and in the municipality of Carboneras, but it is well worth the effort of taking the 20-minute walk along a narrow path.  It is only a bit of exercise before returning to the peaceful starting point of Rodalquilar.

The Secret of Caridean Shrimp
Caridean shrimp are pinkish and rather small. Traditional fishing arts are used to catch them. Hard to come by, they are generally seen at local markets near the fishing port of the Alboran Sea: few are captured and they are so precious that they are sold immediately. That is why you have to ask the locals where they are to be found and the following day, it is a matter of getting up early and being lucky. Whether raw in an emulsion of olive oil, fried, cooked on a hot grill sitting on a layer of sea salt or as each prefers, these shrimp boast the true flavor of sea; a fresh product that is essential to really understand Cabo de Gata. It is even a greater truth when accompanied by a cold, homebrewed El Cabo beer, manufactured in Almeria or a glass of Dídacus, the best local red wine.