Despite the huge container port dominating the shoreline, there are actually a couple of big beaches in and around Algeciras that are okay. I mention Getares below which is a taxi ride from the AC Hotel, but in my opinion the best beach is in El Rinconcillo which is about 20 minutes’ on foot from the hotel.
La Playa de Rinconcillo is a fairly long and wide beach with fine, white sand. If you screen out the oil refinery on the one side and the ferry port on the other, you won’t feel the need to go anywhere else.
There are two ways to get there, along Paseo De La Cornisa, which is the park on the waterfront opposite the hotel, or the direct route along the main road. I recommend taking the latter if it’s your first time and you want to find the restaurant.
Turn left out of the Hotel AC and follow the main road for another two roundabouts.
After the second, bear right (following signs for Playa del Rinconcillo).
Go straight over another roundabout, past the Hotel Mirador.
Turn right at the next roundabout and you’ll see the place below on the left, just before you get to the beach car park.
Map here. I suggest taking photos of the screens if you can’t download in real time.
La Esquinita (High Elementary B+), 2 Carretera Rinconcillo, Playa de Rinconcillo
Recommended by a local teacher in 2012, ‘The Little Corner’ is a typical seafood beach bar ie nothing fancy (paper tablecloths etc) but good and cheap. Opening times can be a bit erratic in my experience, especially out of season, but if it’s shut, it’s only €5 in a taxi into town.
As I say, it’s fairly rough and ready, just like its owner Juan Moreno (the one that looks a bit like Maradona) who gets slated for being rude in a few English reviews on TripAdvisor.
It’s true that he’s quite brusque and I can quite imagine a couple of uptight Brits being offended by his manner, but hey, he’s got a busy restaurant to run (packed out by 3pm) and no time for fools who don’t know what they want in Spanish (the menu is only spoken, very quickly). Fortunately my seafood vocab is pretty good so he slowly warmed to me and was actually quite affable by the time I left.
I began with some Almejas al Vapor which were a bit big and chewy but okay (C+).
The hefty Carabineros were also quite unrefined but perfectly good (B).
My favourite was the cooked Gambas Blanco (A).
To drink a bottle of the popular local vino blanco Barbadillo (C+), a local medium dry from Cadiz, in an ice bucket for just €9.
I later had another glass of Guerilla Albarino which was very good (B+).
They don’t make their own desserts so I finished with a slice of commercial cheesecake with squirty cream (C+).
With a beer at the beginning, and a complementary limoncello at the end (C), the bill came to just €46.
The beach is just a few yards away which is handy for a little siesta after a big feed.
If you want want a change from the view of the oil refinery at Rinconcillo, it’s just a €7 taxi ride to Getares, a small but ‘real Spanish’ beach resort in a neighbouring bay at the southern end of Algeciras.
The beach is sandy, wide and stretches for about 3km, the water looks ok and the ever present Rock dominates the centre of the view out to sea. The promenade is classically tacky and caters mainly for teenagers, and there isn’t a foreign tourist in sight. However, I didn’t find anywhere good to eat here.
Las Olas (Low Intermediate C-), 8 Playa de Getares, www.restaurantelasolas.es
When the taxi drops you off at the beach car park, turn right along the promenade and it’s the second unit on the right.
The hotel recommended this place and walking along the strip it did look like the best spot if only for having more modern plastic tables and chairs than the other joints.
I went with the gruff owner’s recommendation of a bottle of white Emparrado to go with my planned seafood banquet. Disappointingly it was so sweet that I couldn’t drink it. (D). The old chap wasn’t too happy but he replaced it with a Barbadillo 2011 which was much better (C+).
I started with a mediocre Ensalada Mixta with tuna, asparagus, corn etc (C) and moved on to a plate of grilled Navajas (razor clams) which were too salty but just about okay (B-).
I followed up with Almejas al Ajillo, hoping for clams steamed in their own juices with a bit of white wine and garlic but got them instead in a gloopy and again oversalted red sauce (C).
Still hoping for satisfaction I ordered some Sardinas a la Plancha which were edible but soggy and without the crispy skin I was craving (C-). And yes, they were very salty again.
Feeling frustrated, I had a carajillo to prepare myself for the bill (€50) and decided never to come here again.
It can be difficult to get back to town from here in the evening so it might be an idea to have the first taxi to come back at an arranged time.
Photos uploaded June 2012 and February 2017.