Isla Cristina

Isla Cristina

Forty five kilometres from Huelva city is this beach resort, popular with Spanish visitors, which was once situated on an island (hence the name).

Isla Cristina is worth a visit for its marvellous choice of beaches that, like its neighbours, are sandy and extensive, making a stretch of eight kilometres' long. There are some excellent windsurfing spots along this stretch of coast. It is also a busy port, famed for its fresh and preserved fish and one of the most important in Andalucia, if not Spain .

The town's population explodes in July and August due to a huge influx of tourists, mainly from Seville. During these months it's best to book accommodation as far in advance as possible and be prepared for some hefty price increases. Only visit at this time if you like a lively atmosphere and a resort packed with people, because Isla Cristina is full to bursting point in the summer.

Take a walk around the port (puerto pesquero) when the fishing boats unload their catches, either first thing in the morning or to enjoy the sunset in the evening. The habourside factories sell Isla Cristina's famous canned tuna and mackerel and salted fish. As you would expect in a port town along the Costa de la Luz , there are loads of good fish restaurants to choose from, like the renowned Casa Rufino on the Carretera de la Playa road to the main beach, as well as the chiringuitos (summer beach bars) lining the beach. Sample the local fish specialities that include raya en pimentón (skate with peppercorns), mechado de atún (a minced tuna fish dish) and the ubiquitous fried fish dishes.

The approach to Isla Cristina from the A49 motorway to the north of the town crosses the Paraje Natural Marismas de Isla Cristina, an impressive marshland area that is home to many birds including storks, flamingoes and spoonbills. On this road, two kilometres out of town, is a marked kilometre-long footpath, a so-called vía verde, across the marismas, known as the Sendero de Molino Mareal de Pozo del Camino.