Out and About in Caleta de Vélez with The Directory magazine

This month we are in… Caleta de Vélez, situated on the coast between Torre del Mar to the west and Algarrobo Costa to the east, is primarily a fishing village and is home to the most important fishing harbour in Malaga province.

There is evidence of the Phoenicians in Caleta, most notably the necropolis, Necrópolis de Trayamar; a series of Phoenician tombs located on the right bank of the Rio Algarrobo, which separates Caleta from its neighbouring town of the same name.

The N340 road, otherwise known as the Mediterranean road, which is the longest on mainland Spain, cuts through Caleta and makes up the main strip where the majority of its bars, restaurants, shops and services can be found. The road was previously known as the Malaga to Almeria road and it was along this road that over 120,000 people from Malaga tried to escape to Almeria when Franco’s troops marched into the province in February 1937 during the country’s Civil War. The Desbandá is an event that is solemnly marked every year across the municipality of Vélez- Málaga, to which Caleta belongs, as a stark reminder of Spain’s dark history.

Yet what Caleta de Vélez is best-known for is its harbour; fishing has been an important industry since the beginning of the 20th Century. However, it wasn’t until 1978 that the port was really established, with the construction of a port building. Since then it has grown from being a small fishing village to the one of the most important fishing ports in Andalusia. It is now a popular destination for both Spanish and foreign tourists as well as for people buying property.

Watching fishing boats going out and coming back with the catch of the day and the hustle and bustle when buyers flock to the fish auction is a spectacular and thought-provoking sight, really capturing the essence of Caleta. In the morning buyers can make their purchases in bulk, while in the afternoon the main activity is the ‘subasta’ or auction where restaurateurs and fishmongers vie for the best prices of dozens of kinds of fish, from octopus to crab, prawns to hake.

Those up early enough can join the fishermen at ‘Bar Virgen del Carmen’ on the main road. This Caleta institution opens at 5am and sells what locals consider “the best coffee and churros this side of Malaga.” On Saturday mornings Caleta buzzes with the activity of its renowned market where locals mix with foreigners, while vendors try to sell their wares not only in Spanish, but using the words they have picked up over the years from their many British, German, French and Scandinavian customers. Anything from Andalusian ceramics, to fruit and vegetables, Moroccan spices to clothes and homeware can be picked up and most stall-holders are ready to haggle.

LOCAL DISHES: Fried fish ‘pescaito frito’ . Espetos – sardines grilled on an open fire in the numerous beach bars, or ‘chiringuitos,’ along the beach. Best eaten when there is no ‘r’ in the month (May – August). Try tinto de verano – a refreshing drink made with red wine mixed with lemonade, served with ice and lemon.

Back down at the harbour it is clear to see why the port is also called a ‘puerto deportivo’; cyclists, joggers and those simply wanting to relax with a coffee and the newspaper, are attracted by the quiet harbour-side road and the bar/restaurants that have opened in the last 3 or 4 years. El Camarote is always heaving at the weekend and offers live music every Saturday lunchtime, along with an extensive menu offering fish caught locally. Inland and just off exit 247 of the A7 motorway is Baviera Golf, one of Malaga province’s 59 golf courses, giving it the name ‘the Costa del Golf.’

The recent rise in popularity of this small fishing village means that big supermarket chains, including Aldi and Mercadona, have opened stores in recent years. There is also a Lidl just down the road in Algarrobo Costa.

Other services include a council office where help and information is available in English, a library, doctor’s surgery and primary school. If you need to hire a car call into Caleta Rentacar and they can help you with car and even bicycle hire if you fancy a ride along the paseo to Torre del Mar. If you have children who live here or are just visiting for a holiday and you want them to be entertained for a few hours, ABC English are running a morning summer camp in July and August with different themes every week. See their advert in the What´s On section for more information. If you are looking to buy or sell a property then contact THS Online (see their advert in the Property section) who have properties in Caleta and the Axarquia region. Enjoy a drink, and or a meal at El Camarote down at the port.

San Juan (St John) is celebrated every year in Spain on 24th June. However, the night of the 23rd is the most important part of the festivities, when Spaniards (and foreigners of course!) go to the beach to light fires‚ ‘moragas‘, into which 3 wishes written on paper for the following year are traditionally written. By swimming in the sea at midnight it is said that you are washing away the old and supposedly making yourself more beautiful. Expect fireworks, busy bars and packed beaches well into the night!

DATES FOR THE DIARY: 23rd June San Juan celebrations. July is the biggest month in Caleta’s calendar: The local Feria (fair) runs over the 1st weekend in July. On the 15th and 16th July ever year the local fishermen pay homage to their patron saint, La Virgen del Carmen. Fishing boats bring a large statue of the Virgin along the coast, lit by candles and accompanied by fishermen, locals and visitors. Live music and food also forms part of the celebrations. The fishermen prepare a giant paella for the town.