Torre del Mar is essentially the coastal part of Vélez-Málaga, as the two towns fall under the same local authority. It’s sort of what Brits might call ‘Vélez-by-sea’!
Torre del Mar has always been a popular holiday destination for the Spanish, with people from cities like Córdoba owning second homes in the beach-side apartment blocks, many of which remain empty for large parts of the year. The town’s population seems to double in size in July and August, when the school holidays and unbearably hot summers inland draw people to the cooler coast.
Tourism has always been an important sector for the town, even as early as the late 19th Century. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s, when Dr Antonio Toré Toré, a businessman and developer from Vélez-Málaga, really saw the tourism potential of the town and was behind the development of some 3,500 properties. He was also responsible for early promotion of Torre del Mar as a holiday destination, promoting it beyond Spain and the Avenida Toré Toré is named in his honour. A bronze bust of Dr Toré Toré can be found on the avenue.
The iconic blue and white striped lighthouse is situated at the beach end of Avenida Toré, Toré. Built in 1976, it replaced the town´s original, smaller one, which can still be seen about half way down the Avenida.
Sugar cane was, until 1991, also a major industry in the town and the old factory, Nuestra Señora del Carmen and its chimney are still standing in the Azucarera district, to the east of Torre del Mar. The modern shopping centre between Torre and Vélez, gets its name, ‘El Ingenio’, from the Spanish name for sugar cane factory.
Torre del Mar claims to have the longest paseo marítimo in Spain and arguably it is; built during the 1970s, four kilometres of well-maintained promenade stretch from the west of Torre, where two of the town’s hotels (the Mainake and BQ Andalucía Beach) can be found, as well as a well-equipped and popular campsite, Camping Torre del Mar, along to Caleta. The beach is one of only two in Spain currently to have defibrillators located in each of its 11 lifeguard posts and there is a whole host of children’s play areas, bouncy castles and ‘heladerías’ (ice-cream parlours).
Ask any local, particularly those now in their 30s or 40s, and they will gladly fill you in with stories of the heyday of ‘El Copo’; an area to the east of Paseo de Larios, where during the 1990s and early 2000s, young people, allegedly from all over Malaga province and beyond, would gather at weekends to do ‘botellón’ – literally meaning ‘big bottle’; an activity which involved drinking large amounts of alcohol and having impromptu fiestas on the beach. It all came to end, however at the beginning of the 21st Century, when neighbours officially complained of the noise and disturbance.
Since then, the area has been cleaned up, but maintains many of the bars which, particularly on long summer nights, are packed with locals and holiday-makers enjoying extended ‘happy hour’ cocktails and the area is also home to an evening market during July and August.
Torre del Mar has put itself back on the map in recent years, with the hugely popular Weekend Beach music festival. The first one took place in 2014 and now in its 3rd year is attracting international names; last year saw Damian Marley, son of Reggae Legend Bob Marley and this year’s line-up includes American musicians Whiz Kalifa and Skrillex, who are headlining one of the three stages. The festival takes place Playa del Poniente, from Wednesday 6, which is free, until Saturday 9 July.
July’s programme doesn’t stop there; Torre’s annual Feria (fair) takes place from 22 until 26 July, with activities during the day, mainly located around Paseo de Larios and at night an amusement fair is open on the same ground as the aforementioned music festival.
Torre del Mar AirshowTo round off the month and for the first time ever this year, Torre del Mar is to host its very own international air show. Taking place over the weekend of 29 to 31 July, organisers have announced that over 30 aircraft from five different countries will be on display and to fit in with the show on 30 July there will be a ‘Rock & Roll Star’ festival.
Torre del Mar has an enormous selection of restaurants, beach bars (chiringuitos) and tapas bars and thanks to its small centre and well-maintained promenade, walking is always an option (bear this in mind in July and August when parking becomes tricky!)
Most of the town’s eateries are located in and around three areas; Paseo de Larios – a wide, pedestrian avenue with the town’s church to the north and the paseo marítmo to the south, as well as Avenida Toré Toré. Why not try Fogón del Pibe an Argentinia Grill restaurant, Yankies an American Diner, El Timon, Padre Pio all on Paseo Maritimo de Levante and new to Torre del Mar is Cowboy Jacks next door to Yankies.
On a more practical note, Torre is home to the Axarquía’s public hospital, has a health centre, primary and secondary schools and an excellent selection of shops and boutiques in its town centre. Its weekly market happens every Thursday morning. For anyone who fancies a swim outside of the summer season, a state-of-the-art public swimming pool opened in late 2014.
A regular bus service connects Torre del Mar with Vélez, Nerja, Malaga, Granada and other neighbouring towns and buses also leave daily to Córdoba and Almería. The existing bus station and ticket office, to the north of the town, is in fact the former train station building. From January 1908, until 1968, a railway service ran from Malaga to Torre del Mar and was later extended to Granada via Zafaraya. There are hopes that one day the east of Malaga will be once again connected by rail, as is part of the western Costa del Sol, but this seems to be a long way off.
With all this and more in one small coastal town, no wonder more and more foreigners are choosing to visit Torre or even live here and why the town markets itself as Torre del Mar – todo el año (all year round)!
Many thanks to those who provided images for this article. The front cover of The Directory July 2016 issue is a photography taken by Rob Bell Photography, he has also provided some of the photos in this article. www.robbell.photography. Other photographs were given by Tenencia de Alcaldía de Torre del Mar, Departamento de Comunicación, Javier Hoyos García.