Sabinillas, Spain – January 2017
San Luis de Sabinillas, or as locals call it, simply Sabinillas, is a unique town along coastal southern Spain. Located approximately 50 miles southwest of ritzy Malaga and 3 miles north of ultra-ritzy Sotogrande, Sabi – as we have come to call our closest village – is as local and “real,” as the coast gets along this stretch.
A local tourism site describes the town as, “a previously poor relation to Manilva with a collection of sugar factory workers and fisherman who lived in the town which is fast becoming a commercial and leisure centre.”
We haven’t been here long enough to know what has been lost in the current evolution or predict what changes are to come. However, we are immersed enough at this point to take a snapshot of this moment in time…a community in transition and an energy that’s both hopeful and cautious.
Things We Love About Sabinillas
Spanish flavor, English infusion
Some pockets along Costa del Sol feel 100% “Little Britain,” but not here. In Sabinillas, the town’s mix of Spanish and English is apparent. There’s a fish & chips shop on the same row as numerous tapas joints. Spanish clothing labels populate stores just down the street from Brit-style charity shops, restaurants are filled with an international set and menus reflect the diversity.
In the time it takes to drink a cafe solo in an outdoor cafe, you might hear three to four different languages spoken by couples and friends strolling by.
Many people who work on the British-enclave of Gibraltar, which is only about 35 miles south, chose to live in this more affordable village. There’s an English mechanic, bookstore, and butcher, if you choose.
The fusion doesn’t stop there; however, there’s a significant expat / immigrant community from Morocco, India, Belgium, France, Romania, China, Thailand, and more.
Running Costa del Sol
An ambitious plan is in the works to connect villages along the entire Malaga province from Nerja to Manilva, just north of Sabi. When Senda Litoral de Malaga is complete, it will stretch for 163 km along the famed Costa del Sol. That’s one helluva long running route!
Until that time, residents and visitors can enjoy parts of the path already in existence. Although the area was dealt a blow in December when historic flooding hit hard and washed away footbridges and trail sections, repairs are underway and progress is visible with every outing.
Three to four times a week, I run along remote beaches and scramble over rocks from our housesitting home near San Diego to reach the actual coastal trail which begins near Playa Manilva and passes through neighboring villages Puerto de la Duquesa and Castillo de la Duquesa to reach the center of Sabinillas six miles later. It’s a glorious resource, wild in stretches, populated by fishermen in every section, and providing a beautiful backdrop for picnicking families and winter-intrepid sunbathers.
Art for all to enjoy
And, maybe most of all, we love the commitment to public art. Many of the town’s calles (or streets) are named for famous artists and painters. Each street features at least one tile piece highlighting the artist’s works.
Residents and visitors alike receive an art education and ample inspiration simply by strolling through town. It’s genius and a great example of public art enhancing lives.
More to come soon about this lovely Spanish town!