The Province of Málaga is above all well-known for its coast. Its coast is a world-famous top tourist destination. Nevertheless, there is to keep in mind that its tourist supply, which is primarily based on the sun, sea and sand, is not incompatible with alternative natural tourist spots and activities which make this destination rather varied.
This 175-kilometre-long Málaga shore consists of beaches and other kinds of natural spots. There are cliffs, such as those in Maro and Cerro Gordo in Nerja; craggy rocks in Punta de Calaburras Headland in Mijas; rocks and ledges like those at the beaches El Cuervo and La Araña in Málaga or La Sal in Casares; dunes in Artola in Marbella and Matas Verdes in Estepona.
As for the beaches, they can be sandy, or with different size of grains, as well as static piles of sand and tide affected beaches. Due to its location, there are environmental differences, as some beaches are more influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and some by the Mediterranean Sea.
All of this means that a walk along the shore of Málaga, can give you the opportunity to admire diverse scenery in which some dramatic urban structures stand out as they are rather frequent. Moreover, those who come for the first time will be surprised by well-protected natural areas, some of which are far away from the towns while the others belong to them.
The rivers and streams that rise in the sheer Málaga mountains reach the coast, creating new and different surroundings. At the river mouths, fresh and salt water merge, and together with pools create humid environment that is excellent for wild life. In some cases, the lower reaches of these rivers are important habitats, and some of them form part of Natura 2000 or the European Union Special Areas of Conservation.
You can sometimes see natural or man-made pools (lagoons, small lakes, ponds) which are rather rich in animal life. At the middle reaches, there are reservoirs which people use for water supply. The reservoirs and the dams (azudes) used for diverting water to other rivers, as well as some small traditional watering ponds are also natural habitats with a great biodiversity which can sometimes go unnoticed.
Plenty of these reservoirs and small lakes, such as Cancelada in Estepona, La Leche in Benahavís and El Ángel in Marbella, are real oasis for birds and wild life in general. Interestingly, they are placed inside the crowded touristy old towns in the Province of Málaga.
RICH AND DIVERSE PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE
The Costa del Sol is in the middle of three sea-zones: Portuguese, Mauritanian and Mediterranean. Therefore, the animal and plant life there is rather diverse. Brown, red and chalky seaweed is quite present. There are also many Neptune grass areas, an endemic Mediterranean species, which can be especially found among cliffs in Maro, Cerro Gordo.
The Alboran Sea is a mixture of two ecosystems, as it lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the largest habitat of bottlenose dolphins in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is also home to the last Mediterranean population of the harbour porpoise, and it offers the most important food supply area for turtles in Europe. There are important fisheries with sardines and sword fish. The sea animal life in the area includes sponges and corals as well. (For more data about this topic check this section or the data cards in this chapter.)
Moreover, there are many bird species all along the Costa del Sol. Some of the numerous species we can find in the City of Málaga are: booted eagle, common kestrel, peregrine falcon; yellow-legged, black-backed and black-headed gull; sandwich tern, sanderling, turnstone, etc. (For more data about this topic go to our specialized website Birding Málaga or check the data cards in this chapter.)
The invertebrates in Málaga are rather unknown. As for the butterflies, particularly diurnal ones, Spain is the third best country in Europe in the case of butterfly species diversity due to its location and geological history. There are 110 species in Málaga. This is 75% of Andalusian butterflies and 48% of the butterflies’ species in Spain. Many of these butterflies live at the Costa del Sol. (For more data about this topic go to our specialized website Birding Málaga or check the data cards we add to this chapter.)
Lastly, we must consider certain dangers, such as overfishing, uncontrolled dumps and massive tourism, so the survival of the species depends on all of us.