With its magnificent Rock taking up much of Gibraltar's land mass and its western district dominated by the port, marina and harbour areas, Gibraltar's beaches are quite small and are more a series of coves and bays than long stretches of sand. This however gives them a certain charm, and especially along the eastern side of the Rock, a chance to enjoy peace and quiet. Gibraltar's small size makes it possible to explore the majority of its beaches and other superb attractions without the need of a vehicle, and indeed, the dense population of the country does not make for a pleasant driving experience and parking spaces are at a premium.
With the majority of visitors to the Rock staying in the hotels and holiday apartments in the more lively central and northern districts, the choice of beaches can be visited by either heading east along Devil's Tower Road where you first come to the largest and most popular Eastern Beach. Continuing down the east coast you will first reach Catalan Bay and about a kilometre further on Sandy Bay. From here visitors with enough stamina can continue around Europa Point to get to the beaches on the west side of the Rock, although it is quite a trek and it's more advisable to head east for a day and explore the western beaches on another day.
Eastern Beach – Located close to Gibraltar Airport's runway, this is the beach that gets the most sunshine throughout the day and a great place to watch the planes landing and taking off practically right over your head. It is also convenient to visit if you have a lengthy wait for your flight home as it's within an easy walk from the airport.
Catalan Bay – Also on the eastern side of the Rock, the bay is quite small but does have beach facilities, ablutions and a couple of nearby bars serving drinks and food. It is also home to the Caleta Hotel that boasts the popular AA Rosette Award winning Nunos Italian Restaurant.
Rosia Bay – Located on the south side of the Rock, the bay is home to Gibraltar's oldest port which is believed to be where Nelson's body was brought ashore after his death on board the HMS Victory. The bay offers beach facilities and nearby bars but is rather limited on the hours of sunshine it gets due to the shadow of the Rock. Camp and Little bay are also nearby.
For a further great choice of beaches, visitors can head over the border to the Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción where, although an unusual grey of colour, its beaches are a lot longer and wider than those found in Gibraltar. There are five main beaches ranging from 75 metres in length to 1,500 metres, all offering beach facilities and nearby bars and restaurants, especially Poniente Beach which is the most urban and just a short walk from the town centre.
Less than an hour's drive from Gibraltar is the world renowned seaside town of Tarifa. Its fame comes from the near perfect wind conditions that makes it one of the world's top destinations for wind sports, and when the kitesurfers are out in numbers, visitors looking to the skies are greeted with a rainbow of colour. Here the beautiful beaches stretch for miles and offer great swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing conditions, as well as the opportunity to get an all over tan in the secluded nudist coves and bays of Punta Paloma.