The Costa Tropical is on the southern coast of Spain, at the eastern end of the better-known Costa del Sol. This stretch of coastline takes its name from the sub-tropical climate which allows the cultivation of exotic fruits and crops such as avocadoes, mangoes, bananas and sugar cane. The area doesn't have the frantic activity of Torremolinos to the west, or the glamour of Marbella. But if you're after a beach holiday with plenty of activities and a taste of traditional Andalucian life, you've come to the right place.
There are three main resort towns on the Costa Tropical - Almuñecar, Salobreña and Motril. Almuñecar is the tourist capital of the Costa and is one of the most Spanish resorts along the entire south coast. It's a favoured holiday haunt of the Spanish from Granada as it provides excellent leisure facilities but has not been tainted by the trappings of mass tourism.
An increasing number of foreign visitors are now discovering Almuñecar and its neighbouring resorts, attracted by their Spanish character and proximity to Malaga international airport (just 75 kilometres west along the coast).
In all three resorts you can enjoy a "sun and sea" holiday whilst being within easy reach of the historic city of Granada, the Sierra Nevada ski resort and the spectacular mountainous region of the Alpujarras.
Almuñecar's old quarter is a charming maze of narrow, cobbled streets crowned by the remains of a Moorish castle. Its delightful street markets reflect the lushness of the surrounding plains with stalls laden with tropical fruits including lychees and the local "chirimoyo" custard apples.
The coastline stretches for 19 kilometres with no less than 26 different beaches which include wide expanses of sand, sheltered coves and small rocky bays only accessible by steep tracks.
There's a bustling marina to the west of the town at Herradura with a wealth of watersports and moorings for 227 boats.
Salobreña, 17 kilometres to the east of Almuñecar, is the most picturesque of the three resorts. You can't miss it as you drive along the N340 coastal road. Travellers bound for other destinations find themselves compelled to take a detour into Salobreña when they spot this appealing whitewashed town clinging to the sides of an imposing rocky outcrop, crowned by a magnificent medieval castle. The town is set against the backdrop of the Sierra Chaparral mountain range, looking out to sea across lush fields of exotic sub-tropical fruits and sugar cane.
Just four kilometres further east you come to Motril, the biggest town on the Costa with a thriving commercial, fishing and leisure port. This is the area's main shopping centre with a hypermarket on the outskirts of the town and many supermarkets, bars, restaurants and night clubs in and around the town centre. The marina provides a wealth of water sports and boat excursions including trips over to Morocco.
The resort is only a short drive to the fringes of the Alpujarras, one of Spain's most extraordinarily beautiful regions where ancient villages cling to mountainsides on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. You'd be hard pushed to find a more fascinating day excursion than a trip into these mountains, made famous by former Genesis guitarist Chris Stewart who chronicled his escape from the rat race here in his best-selling "Driving Over Lemons".