So where exactly is Andalucia’s ‘coast of light’? The maps will tell you it stretches from Gibraltar to the Portuguese border while the Spanish will tell you it runs from Algeciras to Sanlucar de Barrameda, though many claim it ends in the west at Cadiz. Whatever its boundaries, it comprises almost continual beach - miles and miles of golden sands. Only around Los Canos de Meca, to the north of Bolonia, are there a few rocky coves. And if property speculators have been eyeing up the area, they can forget it: since 2004 the hillsides and coastline have been incorporated in the natural park that stretches all the way to Barbate. So development is off the menu for good.
Tarifa, a mix of the run-down and the ultra-cool, is the most happening place on this stretch of the coast. Thanks to its exposed position, it is the windsurfing capital of Europe. And its winding Old Town is a delight.
If it’s history you’re after, there’s more in Bolonia. A massively important shipping centre in Roman times – hence the ruins - its beautiful arc of sands are lined with restaurants serving ocean-fresh fish: hake, sole, snapper, bass, grouper, clams, langoustines, squid. Jerez boasts wide streets, gothic architecture and sherry - and the region also takes in some of the westerly pueblos blancos, those famous whitewashed hilltop towns: dramatic Arcos la Frontera, pretty San Roque and fashionable Vejer la Frontera, whose 17th- and 18th-century houses wrap themselves exquisitely around a fabled Moorish castle.