Luz Cadiz

The Costa de la Luz is blessed with long stretches of sandy beaches

The Costa de la Luz with its endless sandy beaches washed gently by the often warm waters of the Atlantic ocean forms the most southerly coastline of Europe. From the Portuguese border it stretches to the Straits of Gibraltar – divided by the Donana National Park situated at the mouth of the Quadalquivir river.

Cadiz Province is the area to the south of the Quadalquivir river. This province of Spain is steeped in history with reminders everywhere of the struggle between the Moorish and Christian kingdoms. This has now developed into a rich and diverse cultural mix permeating all aspects of local architecture, food and tradition.

It takes time to get to know this part of Spain but living here and benefiting daily from its superb climate and food gives one the opportunity to explore and enjoy one of the most historic and colourful regions of Spain.

Throughout the spring and early summer and then in late summer and autumn most towns and villages will have their own feria. There are important fairs in April and May in Seville and Jerez. Most feria are smaller and follow the same pattern of starting on a Thursday and closing on a Sunday. It is an occasion to dress up in flamenco costumes and for the men to ride through the village together with the love of his life riding side saddle. Local companies and clubs will set up marquees for food and drink; there will usually be a temporary bull ring or bull running through the streets in hill top villages such as Alcalar de los Gazules but everywhere there will be guitar playing and impromptu flamenco dancing. Some villages such as El Colorado will have fruit and vegetable competitions.

Easter is a fascinating time of year with processions of enormous ornate floats being carried on the shoulders of “penitents”. The floats are the pride and joy of the local churches carried by parishioners on their shoulders hidden from view. They are usually carried by men but sometimes by women, barefoot with shackles around their ankles. The float will sway to the rhythm of the guards who bang silver staves on to the cobblestones and wear pointed hoods. Each float will be followed by a brass band and more penitents with some carrying heavy crosses. In Cadiz the candle lit processions make their way to the town hall square in the late evening of holy Thursday. It is still very warm and the palm trees cut through the black starry sky as the floats are carried past crowds of people and make their way with difficulty up the ramp which covers the cathedral steps.

However the main attractions especially in the summer season are the beaches and beach restaurants, the kite surfing, paragliding, paddle boarding and body surfing or just sunbathing on a sun lounger near a chiringuito. Chiringuitos are temporary but quite sophisticated restaurants licensed by the local authority which are dotted along the wide beaches from mid-May until mid-October.

The weather can be hot from mid-April when the blossom is on the trees and the wild flowers and different crops colour the enormous fields until mid-November by which time the storks have come and gone and the bulls and long-horned cattle roam the hills and valleys. Whilst the coast has its wonderful sandy beaches, warm waters and coves inland the eagles and other raptors soar up high on the thermals over rocky outcrops and hill top towns where there is always a beautiful square with a fountain and a cafe or restaurant and time for a lazy lunch or a few plates of tapas.

In the evenings which are still warm from the heat of the day but with a very light breeze the town squares become filled with happy people going out to supper or on their way to a flamenco show or the theatre or just to have a coffee and ice cream and wander past the artisans stalls.

Video of Cadiz