Benajarafe, Axarquia

With TV shows encouraging the whole of the UK to relocate, it’s hard to find anywhere offering peace, quiet and a taste of real Spain when it comes to the Axarquía coast. Benajarafe may be the exception to this rule. It retains charm and a lack of heavy tourism but it offers everything a discerning beach goer could want.

Hidden Costa

Benajarafe isn’t that hidden. It’s on the main service bus route out of Malaga making it very accessible. However, most people have its bigger neighbours in their sights when planning a trip to the Axarquía coast. With an average population of around 3500, it is small, undeveloped and compact. On each side on the small town, agriculture is evident and the main Street sort of surprises the casual driver. It’s well worth parking up, which is free year round, to stroll the length of the promenade, only created in 2005 and take in its evident charm and character.

Beach Life

The beach in Benajarafe is much quieter than it’s nearby neighbours, despite having everything you could want for a day by the sea. It’s a clean beach and the entertainment is largely self made. No inflatables crowd the sea here. Though some do chose its calm water to paddle board. It’s safe swimming here too in Benajarafe. The beach side chirunguitos or beach bars are the only thing in abundance here. There’s probably one every 8 strolling minutes. These are the perfect place to sit with a morning coffee, look at the Mediterranean and reflect on how beautiful it is. Where else in the world could you do that for a measly 1.50€? Benajarafe is a beach town for Spanish families interspersed with a few Northern Europeans who have discovered its hidden charm.

Beyond The Beach

There might only be 3500 residents (with the exception of summer) but Benajarafe is thriving and vibrant. The weekly Saturday market is a lively place where you can source the freshest local produce which were possibly picked that morning or buy a sun hat. This is not a tourist market with tourist prices. It’s a market where people go to shop for essentials and necessities from avocados to underwear. Benajarafe has everything that you need but on a smaller scale. There’s a fishmonger (and it doesn’t get much fresher), butcher, bank, small supermarket, vet etc. However, if you need tourist information, police or the hospital, you’ll need to venture into the bigger resort of Torre Del Mar. For tourist information, follow the locals and their choices. If a restaurant is crowded, it’s generally because it’s good and Benajarafe has no shortage of quality dining places. One favourite treat is Benajarafe’s Italian ice cream shop, Al Sole on the main street. A tiny place with just a few home made flavours that are simply delicious! Perhaps one of its secrets to avoiding mass tourism is the fact that accommodation is limited to two small hostels and villa or apartment hire. It could never get overly busy with tourists as they couldn’t all stay. This is definitely in keeping with Axarquía overall where small family hotels and hostels abound and a totally opposite approach to the more famous Costa west of here. It’s very easy to fall in love with this easy going beach town.

Times Past

Benajarafe is one of those places where its history is revealed with just a few close observations. One café and small hostel/ hotel is called La Estacion and as you sit on the terrace you look directly at a building that really does look like a train station. That’s because it was! Between the years 1922 and 1960, Benajarafe was on the train line that linked Zafaraya to Malaga. All over Axarquía, there’s evidence of this rail link, at points subterranean. It suggests to the visitor a different past.

Torre Moya Benajarafe

Almost as frequent as reminders of a redundant railway are the watch towers along the coast and dotted in the hills. Benajarafe has its own: the 18th century Torre Moya known locally as Gordo, the fat tower. On close inspection, it does look like this tower might have enjoyed a few too many fried fish suppers. It is quite rotund! Evidence suggests settlements in Benajarafe from the Paleolithic period to the Moors. There’s a depth of character to a place that has been around for so long. It should certainly be on the list for a beach day or an eating fresh fish day or, just simply, a getting away from the hustle and bustle day. It’s unpretentious charm will make you yearn to return.