At the head of Algeciras Bay Rinconcillo is a little known fishing village that manages to remain unspoilt even though surrounded by industry. It also has one of the most fantastic sandy beaches on the coast.
Take the A7 towards Algeciras. As soon as you pass over the river bridge at Km 109 get into the right hand lane and at the first set of traffic lights turn right, swing round the traffic island, cross the main carriageway and, taking the centre lane, pass between two islands and down the road for 250 metres to a roundabout. At this roundabout turn right. Carry on until you see an ONCE booth on the right hand side. Turn left here, there is also a sign for an observatory. Drive 200 metres or so until you see Calle Cabo Creus on your right. Turn down here and carry on until you reach a small square just behind the beach and park.
Leaving your car walk onto the beach. To your right you can see the port of Algeciras, ahead is the massif of Gibraltar and to your left is a long sweep of beach leading to the estuary of the Rio Guadacortes and the village of Palmones. Behind Palmones is the refinery at San Roque. In Algeciras Bay itself you will be amazed by the amount of shipping, anchored, moving into Algeciras port or sailing away to destinations not known.
Turn left on the beach and walk towards Palmones. You soon leave the last of the fishing cottages behind and see sand dunes covered in Sparta grass on your left. This is a Natural Park area and a haven for migratory and resident waders. Continue until you reach the end of the sand spit at the estuary and turn left up one of the paths taking you inland with views across the marismas.
At this time of year you can expect to see flamingos, redshanks, herons, cormorants, various ducks, osprey, curlew, whimbrel, plover, dunlin and snipe. The above list was compiled in under two hours on the 12th February.
You then have a choice, you can either retrace your steps down the beach or wend your way through the dunes until you reach the beach, children prefer the latter. On the beach keep your eyes open for unusually coloured shells washed up from the bay.
The colouration may be due to the mix of chemicals that pollute the bay but there is no sign of that pollution at Rinconcillo and it certainly didn't affect these two playing in the waves, in February? Must be tourists!
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.