San Jose is a very beautiful little “white” sea-side village in the centre of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.
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Over recent years there has been an increase in the number of visitors during spring, summer and early autumn. San Jose, in common with the rest of the Natural Park is beautiful all-year round and boasts a few nice beaches, one in and one (or two) close to the town centre. A little outside the town and within walking distance, are some of the most amazing and picturesque beaches in the natural park.
During the summer months, there is a wonderful arts and crafts market along the paseo or Calle Puerto where you can buy unique gifts and souvenirs. This particularly comes alive at night along with the rest of the town. Also during the summer in the main square of Plaza Génova,
it’s not unusual to see street entertainment; musicians, magicians and street theatre.
The local shops are well stocked but sometimes basic. Generally though, you will find what you need.
The town’s main beach, Playa de San Jose is to be found next to the paseo and is a family orientated beach where in the summer months you can hire deck-chairs and parasols. It does get fairly crowded as it’s the most accessible beach on foot from the town centre.
A little further away from the centre and along the road Calle Correo is the beach known locally as “Tobacco Beach” which can be accessed by tracks either opposite the bar “Maimono El Pirata” or the inmobilaria “H.M.S.”.
This beach is joined to the more beautiful Playa Calilla which offers the best snorkelling of all the town beaches – simply enter the water and turn to the right! To find this beach either walk along from Tobacco Beach or continue along Calle Correo and you will see it to your left (away from the town in both cases).
Follow Calle Ronda de San Jose to the west and you will come to a roundabout followed by a large dirt-track. A little further along this dirt track are the wild unspoilt beaches of Playa de los Genoveses & Playa de Mónsul,
both within walking distance of San Jose. This is an area worth exploring as there are many beaches along this little stretch which leads to a footpath (sendero) towards Vela Blanca and then onwards to the Arrecife de las Sirenas.
You can drive to the bottom of the footpath but in the summer, driving / parking is restricted and you are advised to take a specially provided bus. Most of the beaches past the roundabout tolerate nudity although they are not official nudist beaches.
Follow the Camino Cala Higuera (in between the tourist office & Supermercado Sergio) just out of town and past the camp site, Camping Tau, turn right onto a dirt track, follow the dirt track to the end and you will find the stunning and secluded cove of Cala Higuera.
This is a great place for snorkelling and at times, private bathing. Close to this cove is the beautifully situation bar / restaurant El Refugio.
For the person who wants to do more than sit on a beach all day soaking up the sun, there is no shortage of activities based in and around San José . Walking tours, diving, photography excursions, boat trips, bird watching, 4 X 4 tours and geological field trips are just some of the activities on offer.
The town of San Jose is one of many on the “Cinematic Trail” due to the many films that were made or partly made there. The hotel, Cortijo de Sotillo was used in the Sergio Leone films Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. The beach at Mónsul was used by Steven Spielberg in the making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the approach road to Playa de Mónsul was used in the films The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Lawrence of Arabia amongst others. There is a self-guided route you can follow through San José which is part of the much larger route around Cabo de Gata Natural Park.
de San José:
The people of the village start to come alive during the weekend celebrations around Dia de San José around mid-March. Día de San José or Saint Joseph’s Day honors St Joseph, the Virgin Mary’s spouse and is held annually all over Spain. The celebrations start on Friday night where live music is played in the main square or plaza and there is a drinks tent selling beer, wine and tapas. This is in addition to the already crowded bars. During the Saturday, there are a number of activities including “El Desembarco Pirata”,
an annual re-enactment of the pirate invasions from nearly 300 years ago! On the Sunday, there are sports and cooking competitions followed by a flamenco competition in the afternoon where nearly all the women of the town put on their special dresses, a riot of colour not to be missed!
Día de San Juan:
The Fiesta de San Juan is a festival of ancient origin adapted to commemorate St. John the Baptist and is marked by a night of partying around beach bonfires on the Playa de San Jose, the town’s main beach. Party-goers then take to the sea and begin jumping over the waves, each wave supposedly bringing good luck. This is the only time of year when it is legally permitted to camp on the beach!
San Jose has many places to eat. Please bear in mind that ownership does occasionally change hands and what might be good one day may not be good the next. Here is a list of the ones we currently favour, a tip though when you go for tapas, ask what is available as what you see written on the board might not necessarily be what they have!
Tapas (main meals available in most places but tapas recommended):
Arrecife - good traditional tapas, seasonal opening.
Bar Iruña – the recently reopened Bar Iruña serves delicious and original tapas, seasonal opening
Café Andrea - good but only cold tapas, open all year round.
El Duende - excellent and sometimes different, open all year round.
La Raspa - excellent, traditional and open all year round.
Aniceto - very good but expensive, seasonal opening.
Bla-Bla-Bla - excellent value burgers, open all year round.
Casa Pepé - good value food, fantastic views, seasonal opening.
El Mich - nice modern food, good value menu del dia, seasonal opening.
El Otro Parque - nice, mostly Italian food, on the expensive side, seasonal opening. Sometimes special offers on Sunday
Il Brigantino - very good value for money, seasonal opening.
Mediterraneo - good food, often Moroccan specialties and open all year round.
Yamina - nice "basic" pizza & pasta restaurant, good value, seasonal opening.
Restaurants (a little out of San José):
Alba, Los Albaricoques - a must for Spaghetti Western fans, good food, open all year.
El Refugio, Cala Higuera - fantastic food, even better views, seasonal opening.
Las Forcas (Casa Maria), Boca de los Frailes - currently best value food, open all year.
Rincón del Castillo, Retamar - good value food, rapid service - sometimes too fast, seasonal opening.