This little district of the coastal village of Barbate became one of the favourite places of the hippy movement in Spain. Since then, Caños de Meca has gained popularity as a tourist place not only because of its amazing beaches, but also for being a perfect destination for those who love nature.
Due to pirate attacks, the population was decimated now and again until the 20th century. Then, it began to recover slowly. However, it was the hippy movement that gave a boost to Los Caños de Meca. Thanks to the almost virgin state of the area, an incredible ecosystem grew up there.
The beach in the urban centre is the main attraction of the village. The elements that stand out the most in this beach are its fineness and whiteness, typical features of the beaches of this region, such as Conil de la Frontera, Chiclana de la Frontera or Vejer de la Frontera.
Besides, this small village is very lively in the summertime due to the many tourists who spend their holidays there. It is necessary to mention that there is a great variety of bars and restaurants to enjoy the typical gastronomy of the region. Although Caños de Meca becomes as a more quiet destination during cooler seasons, there are opportunities for active tourism all year round.
To the west of the Pirate’s Beach, and before reaching Cape Trafalgar, there is the ‘Marisucia’ Beach. Despite its peculiar name, it is perhaps the most beautiful beach in Los Caños de Meca. Its name comes from the remains that the sea leaves in its sand during windy days. The beach is divided into two parts: one of them is closer to the town and is full of rocks, whereas the other has white sands. Besides, there are several little but still amazing caves next to it. For instance, right on the front there are reefs that only the most experienced divers can explore. In addition, this part of the coastline is very good for kite-surfing and windsurfing.
On the other hand, the coves of Castillejo are located in the village with the same name, sheltered by cliffs that provide effective protection against the wind. However, since they are not very deep, the tide can make them disappear. It is worth mentioning that on the other side of Cape Trafalgar is the beach of ‘Zahoras’. Another beach a little further north is ‘La Mangueta’. One can enjoy a beautiful sunset in either of them.
The most significant spot of Caños de Meca is the Trafalgar Cape, a little island that joins the peninsula with the continent through the ‘Tómbolo de Trafalgar’. This is an isthmus declared a Natural Monument by the ‘Junta de Andalucía’, an Andalusian board.
Throughout history, various powers have been interested in this cape. For example, in Roman times they built a temple and a salted fish factory there, using the natural richness of the area of the Strait of Gibraltar. This was a lucrative business, widespread throughout the Cadiz region, based on the tuna-fishing technique.
Subsequently, there was an Arab and later a Hispanic settlement here. The area became impossible to inhabit in the Modern Age since berber attacks, performed by Muslim pirates from North Africa, devastated the area. For that reason, Philip II and the Duke of Medina Sidonia built beacons and fortifications along the coast. This Duke promoted the Trafalgar Tower, which has a square plan, and round royal towers. If we go inland from the settlement, we’ll find the Mecca Tower, which was built in the 19th century.
The most iconic postcard of the cape is the nineteenth-century Trafalgar lighthouse, which dates back to 1862 and reaches a height of more than 30 metres. However, its current appearance is the result of a refurbishment in 1929. It is a popular destination for hikers, who reach the site on foot and walk along the cliffs. Although there is a beach, it is difficult to access and there are dangerous currents one should be careful with. However, there are several highly recommended coves before the ‘Tómbolo de Trafalgar’.
To the east, after reaching the coves of Los Castillejos, we arrive at the western limit of the Breña Natural Park and Barbate marshes. This area is famous for its ‘caños’, freshwater springs that fall from the cliffs. This landscape creates a unique environment, as the vegetation grows around them. It is possible to walk between small beaches, some of which are nudist beaches and located at the base of the cliffs, and to see the caños. The best option here is to come when the tide is low, and as long as you wear the right footwear, you will be okay! However, one must be really careful with the rocks.
Another alternative is to visit the park from above, which runs through dense pine forests. This way, it is possible to finish the route even in Barbate. At some points the edges of the cliffs are accessible, although maybe it’s not a good idea to get too close to them due to the lack of protection. Besides, another spot worth mentioning is the Tagus Tower, which belongs to the defensive complex against the Berbers mentioned above.
To sum up, Caños de Meca is a place worth visiting, whether to relax on its marvellous beaches or to enjoy active tourism. A village with an incredible historical past in the south of our fascinating Spain.
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You can read part II of this list here.