Isla Canela, Huelva, Spain is the best beach in Spain, HANDS DOWN, and I have been to a lot of beaches!
Isla Canela, Huelva, Spain – The Best Beach Town that you Never Heard Of
Isla Canela, you say? Huelva, Spain…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.
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 …but Isla Canela, Huelva Spain is where I wanted to go.
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!
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!
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!
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. You can compare prices of flights here. You could also try to compare prices with Vueling Airline they are a local airline from Spain, and often have cheap flights. Compare Prices Here.
We rented a car for the summer, with Fox Rent a Car. You can compare all car rental agencies here, for the best prices on your dates of travel. We rented in Faro and drove over to Isla Canela.
Then I booked us a beach-front flat for 8 weeks! I was excited! I found our apartment a 3 bedroom, 2 bath with full kitchen in the Playa Espigon building directly on the beach. It had free parking, wi-fi, a pool and was walking distance to everything in our little beach town. I was counting the days! I just knew this was going to be the best vacation ever! We Found our Property on Home Away Spain, click here to see all properties in Isla Canela.
My husband doubted me right up until the moment that we walked through the door of our…
AMAZING, 3 bedroom, BEACH FRONT, PENTHOUSE APARTMENT! You can compare all prices of hotels and apartments in Isla Canela here, with Home Away.
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 apartments 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. Compare all prices here of Hotels/Apartments Here, with Booking.com.
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.
What to do in Isla Canela
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? Did I mention that the beach is so clean, not a piece of trash to be found, and rated blue flag? I love that!
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.
If you stop by our favorite local place, Cerveceria Cayuelitas, directly in front of the Isla Canela Marina, visit our fave bartender, Miguel!
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!
They did have to practically throw us out of the place around 2 a.m.! Luckily, we only had to walk one block home.
The Marina Isla Canela
The local marina, has some great options for your holidays in Isla Canela. You can take a water taxi over to the next town for just a few euros. You pick up the water taxi right at the docs.
You can also rent a boat, or hire a boat to take you fishing or snorkeling around the area. Again all is local and can be done right at the docs.
The boys even learned to sail in Isla Canela. At the marina you can go inside and sign up for week-long sailing lesson for all ages. Our kids went and absolutely loved it.
What to Eat in Isla Canela
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!
The town of Ayamonte is close by (drive or bus); only 10 minutes. They have an amazing fish market there! It is called, Mercado de Abastos Ayamonte. Every morning we would get up, have coffee on our amazing patio, look at the ocean, and run to the gym. We found a local gym, and gave us a monthly membership for those of you who need your gym fix like my hubby. We used the local municipal gym, you can get info Here.
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! You can find the address and information Here.
Last, you must have some seafood rice or arroz de mariscos – a tasty recipe that originated in Portugal but is very popular in southern 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. The actual address is Avda. de la Palmera, 1. Anyone can point you in the right direction.
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!
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!
Day Trips From Isla Canela
Isla Canela is only 90 minutes from Sevilla, Spain which is an awesome town. Take a day trip or go over and spend the night. There is a great hop on hop off bus tour, you can compare prices and times here, of all Sevilla tours. There is also an amazing food and wine tour of local wine and tapas that should not be missed in Sevilla. You can compare prices here.
Jerez De La Frontera, is another small town that is famous for the dancing horses, and for making the most famous sherry in the world. This is an easy day trip and a fun way to spend the day. Here are our recommendations for the must see things in Jerez. The dancing horse show, and sherry tasting, that you can compare prices here. Also, I would recommend a walking tour of Jerez, (<– click there) to really learn the history of the town.
Another super cool town in the Sand City of Portugal, each year they sculpt huge sand sculptures based on a theme. The year we were there it was a music theme. It was a cool place to spend the day. The Website is here, and you can check price and times for your holiday.
Language in Isla Canela, Huelva, Spain
Just so you know, you will not find very many people who speak English, unless they are local expats. SO brush up on your Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs. Click banner below, and get a free Spanish Lesson. We have lived in 7 countries and learned all of our languages with Pimsleur.
The Best part of Isla Canela
My all time favorite part of this beautiful beach town, was watching my kids make life long friends, and creating memories that will last forever.
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, Huelva, Spain? Love to hear about your time there.
This post has been updated as of 5/16/2017
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