Bolonia, Cádiz

Today is a cold, wet, grey, miserable day. On days like this my thoughts frequently turn to sunnier, warmer times in an attempt to shrug off the gloom. Today is no exception. I’ve been thinking about Bolonia, our family’s favourite beach-day destination. Living on the Costa del Sol we obviously have no shortage of beaches to visit so it is testament to the beauty of the Costa de la Luz that given the choice we venture that way whenever we can.

Bolonia is a small town just past Tarifa and it has lots to offer. Whenever we go we always take a left turn when we get to the town. Incidentally if you follow the road to the right instead then you will come to the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins which are interesting to have a look around. It is well worth a look if you are wanting something other than just a day at the beach. Making a left turn at the town though will take you along a road lined with cafes, small shops and holiday apartments on one side and a variety of chiringuitos and restaurants on the other. To follow in our footsteps drive all the way to the end of the road. It only takes a few minutes, it’s not far. This is where we park our car, unload all the beach paraphernalia and the children and we head off along the track to the beach.

In our pre-children days we would often walk further along the beach some way. This is where we stumbled upon the nudist beach one time and we were treated to the vision of a naked man doing tai chi. Now I have no problem with nudist beaches and I have no problem with tai chi but the two combined didn’t make especially harmonious bedfellows. Consequently, on that occasion we carried on further along the beach and as far as I can recall that was the last time we explored that far because soon after came the arrival of our first child and we just didn’t have the available arms or inclination to carry beach paraphernalia, a baby and the extensive paraphernalia required by him on a hike along the beach! So now we stick to the more accessible beaches. These are still natural and wild though. So much so that it is common to see cows and horses roaming along the beach or lying down in groups on the sand which is a rather spectacular sight.

Another thing that we love about the beach in Bolonia is that on certain days at high tide the sea rushes up, over and then down the beach to create a large lagoon on the other side, near the rocky grassland. This is great for adults and children alike, but especially young children who can paddle and splash in the warm, shallow water without fear of getting out of their depth or being washed over by waves. My boys love floating on body boards there and building dams across the lagoon using the plentiful supply of rocks nearby in an attempt to stem the flow of the water. One day we even dug a channel linking the sea to the lagoon and we watched the water rushing from one side to the other. Many people even stopped and took photos of it! It was great fun.

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Due to the frequent very windy conditions there are several things you might possibly see at Bolonia and I’m not just referring to the rogue parasols that have been swept up and launched at speed by the wind blowing along the length of the beach. These are usually swiftly followed by beach goers trying to retrieve the parasol and also other helpful strangers who will always help you in your quest! This has happened to us many times and luckily so far there have been no injuries sustained by any unwitting sunbather and we have always succeeded in reclaiming our errant parasols. We did once lose a favourite frisbee though on a particularly windy day. It had been thrown at the water’s edge but took a diversion out to sea and rapidly travelled beyond our reach. So do take care if you are there on a windy day! Wind surfers and paragliders can frequently be seen taking advantage of the wind and they provide some entertainment as they range from accomplished experts to first time novices, both offering their own brand of entertainment! You often see divers too who trudge through the surf armed with air tanks and harpoons only to emerge some time later with a bountiful supply of fish.

After a day on the sand (and sometimes even midway through, especially if we are accompanied by my mother!) it is always lovely to retire to the nearest chiringuito for a restorative glass of wine or beer or whatever takes your fancy. We usually go to chiringuito La Cabaña because it is the nearest one to our favourite beach spot, but also because we like it. I can’t think of a better end to a beach day than sitting outside in a warm breeze, looking out to sea and watching the sun set.

The only down side of going to Bolonia is the potential for horrendous traffic on the way there and back during the busy Summer months. It doesn’t always happen but we have been unlucky enough to be stuck in incredibly slow moving traffic for hours in the past. One time it was so bad that we even turned around and travelled out of our way,heading towards Medina Sidonia for an hour just to get to the motorway in order to turn around and drive the two hours it took us to get back along the traffic-free motorway! However, despite the heavy volume of traffic that you can often see on the way there, Bolonia itself never seems too over crowded, especially at our end of the beach. Of course it gets busy but never overwhelmingly so.

Bolonia has a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere and you can meet some interesting people there. I once saw a lady walking along the beach who every now and then would stop and write something in the sand, take a photo and then move on. As I watched her I became curious to know what she was doing so I went over to ask. It turned out that she was writing some quotes in the sand for her mother who wasn’t able to get to the beach anymore because she was ill and so she was writing things like ‘te quiero mama’ and ‘siempre pensado a ti’ and then take a photograph of this to send to her. What a wonderful thing to do!

Often on the way there, or on the way back if there is time, we will turn off just down the road a little at Punta Paloma which is quite a little adventure in itself. After a short drive the road becomes covered in sand, so much so that you have to be careful that your car doesn’t get stuck! It is fun to park at the side of the road and climb up the very steep hill of sand. When you reach the top you are rewarded by the sight of the sand dunes spread out below you reaching down to the sea. It is a lovely but energetic walk down to the water and then back up, especially great for children who can tear around and play in the sand. It can also be fun to try and find your way back to the point where you originally climbed up. We usually manage to surface quite a distance away from where we parked! Or maybe we just have a bad sense of direction!

For those of you who have been to Bolonia I’m probably preaching to the converted, but if you haven’t been then I would urge you to visit. It is a fantastic place to spend a day or, even better, make a holiday of it and stay in one of the holiday apartments there. And once you have visited please let me know what you think. Also, if you are already a fan of Bolonia then I would be very interested to hear about your own favourite places to go. Please get in touch using the comments box below.

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© Marianne Hill