Playa de Los Muertos: a wild paradise in the heart of Almeria
Though ominously named, ‘The Beach of the Dead’, situated in Cabo de Gata, is easily one of the most delightful natural paradoxes in Europe. Far from living up to its name as a barren landscape, Playa de los Muertos enchants visitors with its Edenic scenery of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. It is located between the two coastal villages, Carboneras and Agua Amarga. The beach, with its virgin sands, is often ranked as one of the top beaches in Spain and Europe in a variety of annual reviews by magazines and online sites. In 2017, the Spanish paper ‘20 Minutos’ voted it the most beautiful beach in Spain and in 2019, ‘The Guardian’ included it in their list of the 40 most outstanding beaches in Europe.
Why this corner of Almeria is called Playa de Los Muertos
Although Playa de los Muertos’ dark name has no relation to the present day, when we delve into its past, things change. The beach is located at a point where natural sea currents converge, and this beach gained infamy amongst the Almerians as a place where the bodies of shipwrecked mariners would wash ashore. Nowadays, its highly skilled coast guard patrols the waters, meaning nautical accidents of this kind are a thing of the past.
Barceló Cabo de Gata
- At the entrance to a Natural Park
- Ideal facilities for families
- Active tourism
Finding Playa de Los Muertos
Playa de los Muertos is located 78 km from the city of Almeria– approximately 55 minutes by car – which means that to truly enjoy the site you’ll need at least a full morning or afternoon. However, if you spend the night at one of the nearby coastal villages, Carboneras or Agua Amarga, which are both equidistant from the beach, it will only take you 15 minutes to reach the site.
Access to the beach itself is another matter altogether, as it is situated at the foot of a cliff and only accessible on foot. While this may appear to be a disadvantage, it is this isolation that has allowed the beach to maintain its characteristic, wild charm.
Visitors to the beach can to use the pay & display car park that is off the AL-5106. Note that parking charges only apply in the summer. From this point visitors can choose from 3 different paths that will lead them down to the sands below.
- The first, which is 700 metres in length and quite steep, starts from the Tourist Information Point.
- The second, which is much shorter but also much steeper, begins at the edge of the carpark.
- The third, which is far more accessible than the other two thanks to the recent construction of stone steps, starts from the Mirador Playa de los Muertos.
Another great option is to take a boat trip from Carboneras to the beach. All the relevant information about times and prices can be found in the town’s tourist information office.
A Day at Playa de los Muertos
On reaching the beach, you’ll discover a pristine kilometre-long stretch of fine white gravel. As the beach falls within the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, it has been given a high-level conservation status. For this reason you won’t find any public facilities there – an important fact to note when packing your beach bag. We recommend taking a beach brolly, sun cream and enough food and drink to ensure a pleasant day at the seaside.
The waters at the beach are crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling. The shoreline does hide a sharp drop, though, so children should always be accompanied by an adult. During normal conditions there are few waves to deal with, but on windy days it becomes dangerous to swim.
The beach holds one more surprise up its sleeve. When facing the sea, if you head to your left, you’ll come across the nudist area.
Other points of interest near Playa de los Muertos
side from the inherent beauty of Playa de los Muertos, the beach is also surrounded by some of the other hidden gems that litter the Almerian coast. A trip to the beach is the perfect excuse to enjoy a walk along the delightful coastal paths to discover some of these points of interest.
The Lighthouse of Mesa Roldan is located about 2 kilometres south of the beach in the direction of Agua Amarga. Built in 1863, this emblematic construction is believed to be the highest lighthouse on the Iberian Peninsula, and, incredibly, it is still inhabited and in use to this day. Situated on the top of the volcanic plateau, Mesa Roldan, the lighthouse offers spectacular views of Playa de los Muertos and the surrounding areas. Today, the lighthouse houses a museum dedicated to lighthouses and the profession of lighthouse keeper.
Other places that are worth visiting are the small coves which flank Playa de los Muertos. Peñon Cortado is one such enchanting cove presided over by two giant rocks that are embedded in the sands on its right-hand side. On the opposite side of playa de los Muertos, you’ll come across Cala de las Salinicas, whose virginal sands echo, on a smaller scale, the natural wonder of playa de los Muertos.
One last thing to note is that a day at Playa de los Muertos puts you within a 50 minute drive down the AL-5106 to the village of Mojacar. This enchanting village is well worth adding to your list of places to visit, as it truly is a delight to the eyes.
Information of interest
How to get there:
- By car: Take the AL-5106 in the direction of Carboneras or Agua Amarga and take the Playa de los Muertos Carboneras Car Park exit.