Isla Canela – The Best Beach Town in Spain that you Never Heard of!

Isla Canela Spain

This is the best beach in Spain, HANDS DOWN, and I have been to a lot of beaches!

Isla Canela the best beach in spain that you never heard of

Isla Canela, you say? What? Where is that? I’ve never heard of it! YES, exactly; that’s why it’s so GREAT! It is located south of the town of Ayamonte in Andalusia, Spain, on seven kilometers of beautiful sand! The mouth of the Guadiana River meets the Atlantic, and if you look to your right you can see Portugal!

Isla Canela Spain

As always, my job is to scout the area, price the flights, and find us housing. Of course, I always have to locate a gym and basketball court, otherwise my hubby is grouchy! We have seen and read about all the touristy places – Barcelona , Malaga, Mallorca, Gran Canaries.

Isla Canela Spain

I know they are beautiful, but just not what I was looking for. I wanted a sleepy, authentic village with amazing beaches, great seafood, and where no one else had ever been! I looked, and looked, and researched, and researched!

Isla Canela Spain

Then one day, up came Isla Canela (Island of Cinnamon in English)! There was very little information about it, but from what I could see it was untouched, non-touristy, and GORGEOUS! Isla Canela sits right on the Atlantic Ocean near the Portugal and Spain border. The sand really does look like cinnamon; here, take look!

Isla Canela

Isla Canela

Beyond this, I found very little information about the place. This is exactly what I was looking for! The hubby, who is normally open to my crazy travel adventures, was not too sure about this place! He couldn’t find information, had no reviews to read, and really wasn’t sure it was a good idea! Quite frankly, he doubted that any of the pictures I was showing him could possibly look that way in real life!

Isla Canela the best beach in spain that you never heard of

We wrestled over the flat; we haggled over the price; and we debated on other locations. He wanted Malaga; I wanted Isla Canela! He wanted a bigger city; I wanted a sleepy village. He wanted proof of gorgeous; I was flying by the seat of my pants! Finally, after a month of struggles, I convinced him that this was the place to go and promised that he would not be sorry. Finally, he gave in! Yay!

 

 

I booked our flight tickets trough JetRadar from Cologne , Germany to Faro Portugal.  We rented a car for the summer, with Fox Rent a Car. Then I booked us a beach-front flat for 8 weeks! I was excited! I found our apartment on Airbnb, you can see it here.   The owners name is Juan Miguel and anything I had a question about, he answered for me. Juan would email me photos of him fishing and snorkeling. I was counting the days! I just knew this was going to be the best vacation ever!

 

Isla Canela Spain

 

My husband doubted me right up until the moment that we walked through the door of our…

AMAZING, 3 bedroom, BEACH FRONT, PENTHOUSE APARTMENT!

 

I don’t use these words lightly, but I have to tell you – I WAS SPEECHLESS!  I can’t say enough about the beautiful apartment we rented! Then there was the beautiful beach we looked out over each day! The warm, blue, clean water was fantastic!

If you go, check out the flat we stayed in. The building has a great pool with a full-time lifeguard, so I had no worries about the kids. It had a nice little bar near the pool that served snacks and cocktails. We were literally steps from the beach! The whole compound was fenced in so we felt fine about having the kids run around with all the new friends they made.

isla canela spain

Have you ever stayed in such a beautiful place that you didn’t even need to leave the patio? Well, that is how I felt! We watched the sunrise and the sunset! Day after day after day, we would rush to the patio, coffee in had, to just enjoy; it never got old!  The island is only three streets wide with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the marina on the other, so you can walk everywhere.

 

Isla Canela Spain

We walked on the beach in the morning, practically alone, lounged with our umbrellas, picked up baby starfish in the surf, and dug our own fresh clams for dinner. Doesn’t it just sound like a dream?

Isla Canela

We had dinner on the beach at the local chinguiritos. We danced to live music, met the bands, and ate plates of seafood for $9.

Isla Canela Spain

If you stop by our favorite local place, Cerveceria Cayuelitas, directly in front of the Isla Canela Marina, visit our fav bartender, Miguel!

Isla Canela Spain

He will be more than happy to give you a great drink and some tapas! They have these cool tables that have the beer taps built-in so you can just pour your own beer. How much you drink is calculated on the electronic board near the bar. If you stop by, you can see my hubby’s picture on the wall! A plaque of sorts, a medal of honor, for drinking five liters of beer in one night! Oh, I am sooo proud!

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They did have to practically throw us out of the place around 2 a.m.! Luckily, we only had to walk one block home.

Isla Canela Spain

When you visit, a must have is their plate of Galician-style octopus! They chop it up, lay it on top of grilled potatoes, sprinkle with salt and paprika, and voila! We could not get enough!

Isla Canela Spain

The town of Ayamonte is close by (drive or bus); only 10 minutes. They have an amazing fish market there! Every morning we would get up, have coffee on our amazing patio, look at the ocean, and run to the gym (which was a local gym, and gave us a monthly membership for those of you who need your gym fix like my hubby).

Isla Canela Spain

Then we would wander through the fish market trying to decide what to eat for dinner. They have everything from hundreds of fresh fish and seafood to Iberian prosciutto to fresh-baked bread to farm-grown vegetables! It was loud, colorful, smelly, and so much fun!

Isla Canela

 

Lastly, you must have some seafood rice or arroz de mariscos – a tasty recipe that originated in Portugal but is very popular in southern Spain!

Isla Canela Spain

No, it’s not paella; it’s better! The best place on the island is at the tip of the island called Resturante Antonio. Now don’t let the shack appearance scare you. This place has some of the best  food we ate while in Spain! We ate a whole pot of seafood rice for $15, and it was delicious.

Isla Canela Spain

On our last night in town, our awesome waitress brought us two shots of chilled Amarguinha to bid us goodbye, but we promised to return soon to this amazing and beautiful island! Cheers, or salute, as they say in Isla Canela!

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The little marina was so quaint! Our boys spent a week taking sailing lessons with all their new friends! You could get a water taxi to neighboring towns, rent a boat, or even take a fishing excursion! It was just an amazing place!

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I sniffled as we packed, and my eyes teared up as we said goodbye to our beautiful apartment, to-die-for views, and all of our new friends! My little island of cinnamon, we will be back, and sooner than you think!

Thanks for reading, have you ever been to Isla Canela? Love to hear about your time there!

– Stacey

27 Comments

  • Reply April 4, 2017

    divsi

    So sos gorgeous! LOVE beaches and your pictures made my jaw drop! Such picturesque views. I hadn't heard of this before. Thanks for sharing this hidden gem!
  • I can definitely see why you would want to stay there. Firstly, POURING YOUR OWN BEER? I'm sold already. Also, I had no idea just how cute a baby starfish could be. Thanks for sharing!
  • Reply April 2, 2017

    Indrani

    So right you are, I have never heard of Isla Canela! In fact I did the touristy tour of several cities of Spain but not one single beach. How I wish I had the time. This beach looks like a must visit to me. I f time and pocket permits I will make an exclusive beach tour of Spain. Indrani recently posted...Faces of India – 310 from Bikaner, RajasthanMy Profile
  • Reply April 2, 2017

    Punita Malhotra

    That view from the penthouse apartment is really fantastic. There seems to be so much variety in food. Actually I've never heard of this beach town...what a great find. Punita Malhotra recently posted...Which is the most charming promenade in Europe?My Profile
  • Reply April 2, 2017

    GIORGOS SPYRIDAKOS

    First of all, the photos are really great! But, where are the people? I saw no one on the beach. Did you tell them to go away for the pictures :) I like this kind of posts where you discover the hidden gems of every country!
  • I can see why you loved staying on the Isla Caneta. It really looks like the perfect beach away from all the tourists. And your house is gorgeous! I would love to stay there and eat all the octopus. Stella the Travelerette recently posted...A Perfect Travel Itinerary for Tokyo, JapanMy Profile
  • Reply April 2, 2017

    Tarah

    Wow I don't know that I've ever seen a beach without a single person on it! Looks amazing though. I love to find the less touristy spots, as well so I will definitely have to check this out
  • Reply April 1, 2017

    Tom

    The shots of the beach are empty, absolutely empty. Always that way? What time of year did you go? Anyway, the food alone seems worth the trip.
    • Reply April 1, 2017

      BasketsLife

      We were there all summer June July and Beginning of August! It was amazing!
  • Reply April 1, 2017

    Ariane

    Isla Canela... I think already the name says it all!!! That's exactly the same criteria I use to to select the beaches: great seafood, gorgeous but non-touristy location and an authentic village! Needless to say that Andalucía is one of my favourite destinations in Spain. I definitely will keep this one in mind when planning my next trip over there :-)
  • Reply April 1, 2017

    Mimi

    This is so handy - I can't wait to spend a proper few weeks in Spain and be able to visit some beach cities. I'm curious about that "paella" similar dish! You say it's better so I am kind super intrigued! Mimi recently posted...Lunch At The Best View Of The Great Pyramids Of Giza: The Mena HouseMy Profile
    • Reply April 1, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Yes I am a huge paella fan but this dish was even BETTER - you will find it southern Spain near the boarder of Portugal Arroz con Mariscos For sure check it out! :) I have never found it anyplace else!
  • Reply April 8, 2014

    globetotting.com

    This is one of our favourite spots in Spain. We always go to El Rompido which is a few km up the coast from there. This is making me look forward to our visit this summer and guzzling delicious prawns all day long! :)
    • Reply April 9, 2014

      basketslife

      Me too such an amazing and beautiful place!! I could live there forever and that is impressive! LOL Thank you for reading!
  • Reply February 7, 2014

    Don't Forget To Move

    Looks awesome! I spent 6 months in Spain studying during college but I've never even heard of this island! I'll definitely have to go back to check it out! Nothing better than Spanish churros. Yum :)
  • Reply February 6, 2014

    Samantha @mytanfeet

    Looks beautiful! Love stumbling onto hidden treasures like this and this one looks like a great beach!
  • What a fantastic piece of work, simply brilliant! We have a beach apartment in Isla Canela and have been visiting for over 10 years now. It is paradise! If anyone is interested, please check us out at http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/spain/S6673.htm?src=LS Salud!
  • Sounds like a pretty sweet cinnamon island! A nice way to spend the summer - digging clams for dinner and enjoying a slower pace of life...
    • Reply February 3, 2014

      basketslife

      It was really awesome! Normally we spend it running from one country to the next ~ this was a nice change! Thank you for reading!
    • Reply February 4, 2014

      basketslife

      It was amazing ~ just amazing! We will definately go back! Thank you for reading!
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Anonymous

    Hi! I am from Isla Canela, I grew between beaches and mud... hehehe actually I am living in Utrecht (Holland) due to the difficult situation in Spain and I miss Isla Canela so much...!! I realy appreciate your words about my small island and hope to see you there one day. I agree, its a special place! Regards
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi So nice to meet you! Thank you for reading and thank you for the comment! We so fell in love with Isla Canela. It was so beautiufl, the people were so friendly, the food amazing! We will for sure go back there! Have a super Sunday!
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Britta

    needless to say- i love your posts ;-) ! this really seems to be a place as beautiful as paradise...a fun and relaxing place. and what beer tables ! i should bring them to bonn ! but there is really one thing i have to complain about: with every new article there is one more place to visit on my "must-travel-to"-list ! it`s getting longer and longer ;-) !
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi Britta ! Happy Sunday and thanks again for reading! This place was really amazing! We really enjoyed it it was wonderful! I have the same problem evreyday I get online and see new places that I want to go! Bucket Lust is getting longer not shorter! :)
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Anonymous

    Lovely write up and very true. We have an apartment on the golf course at canela - great holiday meMories.
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you very much for reading! We really enjoyed it there beautiful beaches and friendly people! We can't wait to go back!
  • Reply January 24, 2014

    Chasing the Donkey

    Sounds pretty fabulous to me too.... I am on my way.

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