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Cabo de Gata-Nijar | Guide to Agua Amarga, a pretty, small, unspoilt fishing village

in Nijar Municipality in Almería Province, Andalucia, Spain
By Nick Nutter | 14 Feb 2020
Agua Amarga from the Cargadero de Mineral headland The beach at Agua Amarga Holiday apartments at Agua Amarga Cargadero de Mineral superstructure Cargadero de Mineral schematic Agua Amarga in winter

If you are looking for a totally unspoilt white village with spectacular sea views, stunning scenery, largely undiscovered by tourists, where you can eat fish in a restaurant that owns the fishing boat, then Agua Amarga is for you.

Do not expect night clubs and discos. A couple of small bars are the social heart of the town, in winter there is only one. It is very peaceful. During the summer there are also some ‘chic’ boutiques, and that is it. There is not even a harbour. The fishing boats are pulled up on to the sand, sheltered by the cliff at the northern end of the beach. In a bay sheltered by cliffs to the north and south, the beach is clean, soft sand with crystal clear water between.

The town is being found by the trendier crowd. Alongside the boutiques, in summer you will also find a few fashion and accessory shops and some untraditional healthy eating and fusion restaurants.

Agua Amarga by the way, translates as 'Bitter Water'. The name came about back in the 19th century when the town was very small and its wells were contaminated by chemicals from the nearby mining works. Today the water is as fresh and pure as you could wish.

Cargadero de Mineral

On a headland 500 metres north of Agua Amarga you can see the terminus of a mineral railway line and the remains of the ship loader at the end of the line. For those that venture up there, the views across Agua Amarga are amazing and you will be amazed by the extent of the operation set up back in the 19th century.

All along the Almeria coast there are the remains of mining works and related activity. The ore would be mined inland and transported to the coast. Sometimes, depending on the metal within the ore, it was smelted at the coast and the products then loaded on to a ship. Other ores required smelting at specialised foundries situated elsewhere. Sometimes the ship ran onto the beach, sometimes there was a pier or even, as at Almeria city, a proper harbour. The method by which the ore was transported to the coast varied from humans and donkeys, as occurred at Rodalquilar, to road transport, as is happening to this day at Carboneras, to aerial runways where buckets were slung beneath cables, as happened at Villaricos, to mineral railway lines.

The railway line at Agua Amarga ran from Lucainena de las Torres, an iron ore mine, some 30 kilometres inland. It was built in 1896 by the Compañia Minera de Sierra Alhamilla, who chose Agua Amarga as the site of its ship loading operations due to its sheltered bay. On arrival at Agua Amarga, the ore was transferred to an iron jetty and from there to the ship. Although profitable in its early years, by the 1920s it was starting to lose money. The mine was closed altogether during the Spanish Civil War after the workers took control. Re-opened after the war it could not be made profitable and the last ship, the steamship Bartolo, loaded ore in 1942.

Supplies to the mine were brought by ship and made the return journey up the headland and back to the mine. A coal store can still be seen on the beach and, if you look up to the headland, you can still see traces of the cable operated, wagon lift that, using a static engine, pulled small cargo wagons up to the top at which point the contents would be transferred to the railway wagons.

Go to Cabo de Gata-Níjar travel guide
Go to: Almería province
Go to: Almería city
Go to: Nijar town

Places to go in Nijar municipality

Cabo de Gata-Nijar | Visit a gold mine at Rodalquilar
Cabo de Gata-Nijar | El Albardinal Botanic Garden at Rodalquilar
Cabo de Gata-Nijar | Volcano House Centre for Geotourism and Geodiversity of Andalucia at Rodalquilar

Villages in Nijar municipality

Guide to Nijar, on the edge of the Cabo de Gata
Cabo de Gata-Nijar | Guide to the mining town of Rodalquilar
Guide to San Jose, a small fishing village in the Cabo de Gata on the Costa Almeria
Cabo de Gata-Nijar | Guide to El Pozo de Los Frailes

Walking in Nijar municipality

A Volcano Walk in the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park

Find Agua Amarga on the map

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Submitted by Linda on 7 Feb 2020
Looks beautiful. Where would be the best places to stay.

Reply by Nick Nutter:
Hi Linda, It is more a question of where is open out of season. Best bet is to go to the article, click on the Booking.com icon that brings up the current special offers in that area and then put in the dates you are interested in. Enjoy your stay.

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About the Author

Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.

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