Roquetas de Mar is a town in the province of Almeria in southern Spain. Only a small town, it’s still popular with tourists from all over the world who visit Roquetas de Mar throughout the year. It’s also a place that is filled with retirees, many of whom who have bought apartments there to get away from the expense of living in their own country.
Coming into Roquetas, be warned, it’s not a pretty sight. Several years ago, the Spanish government realized Roquetas has the perfect climate to grow vegetables and fruit, so they started to build row upon row of ‘greenhouses’, which are nothing more than wooden frames with plastic sheeting thrown over them. They now stretch all the way down the coast from one end to the other, literally hundreds of thousands of them. It’s quite a shock to see these plastic monstrosities when you first arrive on the outskirts of the town. However, once in the town and especially near the beach, you cannot see them so it’s easy to put them out of your mind and pretend they’re not there.
Most of Roquetas de Mar was built as nothing more than a tourist town. However, it does have an old fishing harbor and a large marina that are interesting to visit. You’ll also love the tiled promenade that has been built next to the beach from one end of the city to the other. Every morning, you can walk down the promenade, stopping off at shops, cafes or restaurants along the way, or just people watching. Sundays are a wonderful time to walk on the promenade, as all the Spaniards come down to the beach to walk, meet friends and chitchat.
The town also has an Arab watchtower, a 17th century church and several other monuments scattered around town. There are a couple of weekly markets you can visit, particularly interesting to see all the different Spanish foods for sale.
Roquetas is also only a 40 minute bus ride from the capital of the province, the city of Almeria. Almeria city is interesting with many old buildings, and has an old fort high up on the hill you can wander around for hours. Worth it just to see the enormous cat population that lives there.
As far as dining out, Roquetas has many good restaurants and cafes with cheap prices. There are several small tapas bars, where you can buy a couple of drinks and the tapas (light Spanish bar snacks) are either free or very inexpensive. Marinated olives, French fries, omelettes, potato dishes, spaghetti, all of them are wonderfully delicious tapas dishes and well worth trying.
Coffee shops and cafes are also everywhere and all offer lattes or coffee drinks for the reasonable price of 1 Euro 20 cents (about $1.50). Thailand. Service is impeccable everywhere and, as everything in the town is incredibly clean it’s ifficult to find a café that isn’t nice. There’s also several cafes right on the promenade overlooking the ocean – a great place to eat a leisurely breakfast while gazing out to sea or watching the passersby.
Accommodation choices in Roquetas de Mar are amazing. There are many big hotels from the luxurious down to the economic but still nice. Most of the big hotels are owned by large Spanish corporations, and are truly gorgeous inside. Hotels like the Playa Capricho, which is part of the Playa Hotels Group, are superb. Enormous rooms, all with spectacular views of the ocean or the mountains behind, great service and three meals a day of all-you-can-eat buffet meals with enormous choices of food. Most of the hotels in the area offer the same standards for very inexpensive prices compared to American or other European hotels.
Good times to go to Roquetas are either in the summer for the hot weather or fall for the less crowded beaches.
In summer, the beaches are crowded so, if you’re not into lots of people, this may not be the season for you. The hotel prices also are higher at peak season.
Staying in Roquetas de Mar between early November and the end of February is also not a good idea unless you enjoy things very very quiet. This is the dead season, with many hotels, cafes and restaurants closing for the season, as well as weather that is windy and can be quite chilly.
September and October are lovely times to go. The weather is still in the high 80s, with lots of sun every day, but you’re not battling the extreme heat or the excessive numbers of people. Prices are also lower at this time, so you can have a great vacation in Roquetas de Mar without paying through the nose for it.