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Bolonia beach - El Lentiscal

Welcome to paradise in the shape of a sand dune. A small hidden treasure on the coast of Cadiz. This little piece of heaven has managed to elude the urban development now typical of the Andalusian coast.


By:  Julio Ruiz
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One of the most beautiful beaches in Cádiz
Population: 400
Area: 3 kms of beach, between the San Bartolomé mountains and la Sierra de Plata, 20.1 kms from Tarifa (Cádiz)
Stands out for: being one of the last unspoilt beaches
Essential: check the wind forecast before going. If there is Levante, the sand will become your worst enemy
Did you know? a great and undervalued place to windsurf when there is Levante

A small cove nestled among arid hills that overlook the crystal clear vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. Hidden between the mountain San Bartolomé, the Sierra de Plata and a huge sand dune that shifts with the easterly winds, it is one of the last beaches of the Andalusian coastline untouched by modern development.

Time stands still in this small coastal village. None of the twenty five buildings scattered over the landscape stand higher than two stories. There is one notable exception: the controversial Baelo Claudia Archeological Centre. In spite of the controversy, it is an important reminder of Bolonia’s historical origins – the name Bolonia is derived from the local Roman ruins that, aside from the beach, are now one of the most visited places in the region.

The beach at Bolonia stands out because it offers three kilometres of sand and a stretch of sea where you can swim without having to avoid rocks or windsurfers. Here you can lie on the sand without feeling crowded or harassed. Walking to the top of the sand dunes that dominate the landscape will give you the chance to take in the panoramic views of the whole area and even make out the African coastline in the distance.

After a day’s walking or swimming, you can recover your strength at one of several restaurants that offer an excellent selection of meat and fish from the coast of Cadiz. People from this region originally made a living from rearing cattle and fishing, but when the neighbouring towns became popular with tourists in the summer, the hospitality industry grew to become the most important sector in the area.

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Estate agents thinking of setting up shop in Bolonia are wasting their time. Construction here is strictly prohibited since the area forms part of the nature reserve of the Straits of Gibraltar. Julia Muñoz, owner of Hostal La Hormiga Voladora, is still sceptical about the situation: “They will eventually wreck the area with construction,” she laments. But Paco Fernández, from Tarifa’s town hall explains that “until the relevant law was passed in 1990 (Plan de Ordenamiento de 1990 de Tarifa) construction was not properly controlled, creating chaos. As a result there are no streets, no basic infrastructure and there isn’t even a decent sewage system. The law is trying to implement some kind of logical order. The only areas that will be developed are outside of the nature reserve of the Straits of Gibraltar, of which Bolonia is a part”.

Who for?

Bolonia is the perfect place for travellers looking for peace and tranquility. “The worst thing are the people that go on Sundays. They come and invade when there is no easterly wind (Levante),” explains Sandra who runs Gun Sails surf school with her partner Fabrice. Although the school dominates this part of the beach, Bolonia is not well known for its activities. Hard-core surf enthusiasts, fans of fashionable beachside dining and hikers looking for properly kept paths should consider some of the other beaches scattered along the Costa de la Luz.
Although the sign at the entrance to the beach asks bathers to dress modesty, further west you can undress completely, hidden away by the small dunes that are dotted around the landscape. Bolonia’s official nudist beach is in the other direction, towards the east. Getting there involves a relaxing hour-long walk.
Those interested in culture and history should visit the Baelo Claudia ruins. Access for disabled people has also been installed recently at the central entrance points.
Bolonia is dealing with a common problem faced by similar locations: the emigration of its youth. The lack of development in this village has resulted in a shortage of jobs and opportunities, both of which require educational establishments and social infrastructure. “There is nothing here. No sport, no bars …I’ll have to move to Cadiz, Seville or Malaga. But I don’t want to go far. I’d like to come back for weekends” explains Isidoro Barranco. “What rubbish!” says Fabrice. “Gun Sails has been open for more than five years. There are things to do in Bolonia but people have to make the effort and look for them”.

Thumbs up

The quality of the sand, its texture and colour. The crystal clear water. The dunes, plant life and cacti that protect bathers from the wind. Animals wander around the village freely, visitors are relaxed and respectful, and most of all, the lack of urban development. While there are built-up areas close by, once you arrive you feel like you are a million miles away.

Thumbs down

Access areas are not well-kept and the rubbish collection points are not properly taken care of by the Tarifa townhall. The Alpariate stream visitors cross to get to the western end of the beach and which flows into the sea smells bad. The process of building and installing a sewage treatment plant has recently started. “Until recently, the water that was being dumped into the sea was hardly controlled. It got to a point where this level of filth was unsustainable” explains Daniel López, representative from Ecologists in Action in Cadiz. Few people believe that the sewage treatment plant will be up and running any time soon and according to the locals “it could take more than ten years”. But López acknowledges that the water is still very good quality. “The sea dilutes concentrations of pollutants in the water”.

 

Facts


Environment

Work has begun on the construction and installation of a sewage treatment plant for Bolonia. "Until recently there has been very little control over waste disposal into the sea. It got to a point where this was unsustainable", explains Daniel López, representative for Ecologists in Action in Cádiz. He recognizes that the water off the beach of Bolonia is of a high quality because the "natural dynamic of the sea which dilutes contaminants in the water".

Few people in the village believe that the plant will be finished any time soon. Some neighbours commented "it could take more than ten years!". More urgent, in the words of the director of La Hormiga Voladora Hostel is "that the town hall starts collecting rubbish and cleaning up the area". The issue is that the rubbish collection points are dispersed throughout the area. Bolonia has been labeled a rural area. Therefore cows, horses, donkeys and chickens wander around its wide streets and have 100% access to the rubbish containers. A live performance for everyone to see!

Debate

In order to research, preserve and promote the Baelo Claudia ruins, the Andalusian government created the Baelo Claudia Archaeological Centre situated in a building that stands out from the local architectural style. The lines of the building are modern and minimalist. Situated on top of a hill it can be seen from almost everywhere in the area. “Architecturally the building is perfect. The lines and the ochre exterior make it blend in with the landscape,” explains Isidoro Barranco, a young architecture student. But Daniel López, from Ecologists in Action in Cadiz and Director of the Environmental Protection Committee condemns the construction of the museum. “Its impact is terrible both visually and on the landscape. It’s a lump of concrete which almost seems to be competing for popularity with the ruins themselves”.

 

Tertulia recommends


Must see

Surfing
Gun Sails surfing school, two hours 60 €
C/ El Lentiscal, 1

Bolonia on horseback
Aventuras del Sur, route and meal 125 €
Cortijo Los Trujillos
Betis, Carretera a Bolonia, km. 3 (Tarifa)
956688642, aventurasdelsur.com

Baelo Claudia Archaeological Centre
A museum located in the centre of the Roman ruins that give their name to the village. Theatre and music events are held here during the summer.
C/ Ensenada de Bolonia, s/n
956106796 / 956106793, Web de Baelo Claudia

Contemporary art
The NMAC Foundation brings you closer nature with cutting edge art
Dehesa de Montenmedio, Carretera A-48 (formerly N-340), Km. 42.5
11150, Vejer de la Frontera (Cadiz)
956455134

 Eat

The beachside fish restaurant
Restaurante Otero
C/ Bolonia, 4
956688594

 Drink

The best mojito
Chiringuito La Cabaña
C/ El Lentiscal, 1A
956688506


 Sleep

Relaxing with sea views
Hostal La Hormiga Voladora, 78 €
C/ El Lentiscal, 15-16
956688562, Hormiga Voladora


Getting there?


By car
Take the N-340 from Tarifa and turn left at the crossing where Bolonia is signposted.


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6 comments

Pon tu propia imagen con Gravatar
El 30 July 2008 a las 9:49 AM, Humphrey dijo...

Congratulations on reaching your first ‘demi-anniversary’! The Tertulia Andaluza team has done well in bringing, through a widely accessible medium, interesting and exciting articles related to the Andalucian area.

Good luck and keep it up!


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El 24 July 2009 a las 9:24 PM, Juan dijo...

Felicidades por la web. Gracias por la valiosa información que ofrecéis a os turistas como nosotros. Aunque se hecha de menos, al menos en este caso, información sobre hoteles y alojamientos cercanos al lugar.

Saludos


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El 30 July 2009 a las 11:31 AM, Lakshmi I. Aguirre dijo...

Hola Juan:

Gracias por tu aportación. Seguimos trabajando por descubrir más lugares interesantes en la zona, aunque Bolonia no deja de ser un pueblo muy pequeño. Si conseguimos nueva información, no dudes de que dejaremos constancia de ello.


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El 3 August 2009 a las 6:00 PM, mer dijo...

Una pena que todo esto vaya a ser deborado finalmente por la corrupción y la ambición de quienes nos gobiernan. Desgraciadamente hay proyectado un plan urbanístico (puede consultarse vía web) en dicha barriada que conlleva, entre otras cosas, un campo de golf y un par de marco-hoteles…
¿A quién estamos dejando maneje nuestros tesoros?



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