Skip to main content

The beaches of Gibraltar: Which is the best?

1 February 2023

If you love a beach holiday, this is also the place to be. Don’t expect beaches like the Costa del Sol or Costa de Almería. But there are some perfectly fine beaches to enjoy a day of sunshine.

Gibraltar has five beaches, of which Sandy Bay is the best known. It is on the other side of the Rock and can be reached by road. Other beaches to visit are Camp Bay, Little Bay, Catalan Bay (La Caleta) and Eastern Bay (Playa de Levante).

Camp Bay and Little Bay are almost adjacent to each other and consist partly of a rocky beach. Nearby, you can also find a large swimming pool to take a dip in. Catalan Bay is a relatively small beach near a fishing village.

lighthouseThe largest beach is Eastern Bay and is especially crowded with tourists during the summer months. As a plane spotter, you will definitely be in the right place here, as you have a fantastic view over the Gibraltar Airport runway.

Sandy Bay

Traditionally, this beach was one of the busiest, until violent storms at sea swept away most of the sand several years ago. Over time, a series of major works transformed Sandy Bay from virtually non-existent to a beach of new relevance, enlarged with approximately 50,000 tonnes of sand imported from Western Sahara. Two curved breakwaters and a front breakwater were constructed to protect the beach from the impact of total erosion by wave action and shifting sand. The project was also extended to include an underwater breakwater connecting the ends of both breakwaters. Sandy Bay was returned to its former glory in 2014.

Blue Lagoon Beach View Rock Gibraltar Image

Sandy Bay

Camp Bay and Little Bay

Camp Bay is a small rocky beach on the south-western tip of Gibraltar, facing the Atlantic side of Gibraltar. It is very picturesque, with rocky cliffs as a backdrop, the very active Bay of Gibraltar and Parson’s Lodge Battery, a former British fortress overlooking the northern end of the bay. At the southern end of the beach there is a waterfall, although very beautiful, it is not natural. This waterfall is salt water returning to the sea from a water desalination plant.

Camp Bay And Little Bay

Camp Bay and Little Bay

Levante Beach / Eastern Beach

Levante Beach (Eastern Beach) is a sandy beach, the largest on the Rock and is located on Gibraltar’s Mediterranean coast. This bathing area is unique for a couple of reasons – it stretches all the way to the runway of Gibraltar International Airport and bathers can watch planes take off and land whilst swimming! Furthermore, this unique setting is dominated by the majestic north face of the Rock, located just metres away from the beach.

The surrounding urban area is residential and further expansion is expected to the south on the recently reclaimed land. There is a chiringuito restaurant on the beach itself, a popular spot for beachfront dining. Unlike the other beaches on the eastern side, which are sometimes deprived of sunlight by the shadow cast by the Rock, Levante beach enjoys sunshine all day long.

Playa De Santa Bárbara

Playa De Santa Bárbara

Playa de Santa Bárbara

Planes will be flying overhead at this laid-back beach, which is just a short distance from Gibraltar International Airport.

Aside from unobstructed views of the Rock of Gibraltar, Playa de Santa Barbara has soft sands and a wooden promenade ideal for people-watching. Take in the sights while wearing sandals or going barefoot, preferably with an ice cream in hand.

La Caleta (Catalan Bay)

Catalan Bay literally translates as “Bay of the Catalans“, but this beach is known in Spanish as La Caleta. It is a small bay and fishing village in Gibraltar on the eastern side of the Rock, away from the city. The true etymological origin of Catalan Bay is unknown, but there are a few theories: the first suggests that the bay owes its name to a group of around 350 Catalan military personnel who settled there after assisting the Anglo-Dutch forces that took Gibraltar during the War of the Spanish Succession on 4 August 1704.

gibraltar beach

La Caleta (Catalan Bay)

However, there is no evidence that the Catalans settled in La Caleta, and although this theory is widely used to explain the origin of the place name, it remains a hypothesis. The Spanish name, La Caleta (small cove or bay), predates Catalan Bay. Therefore, given that this beach was known as La Caleta long before it began to be called Catalan Bay, the second and more likely theory is that the name was born in 1704, after the conquest of Gibraltar by a combined Anglo-Dutch operation. That expedition would have landed there along with some 350 Catalan sailors who were supporters of Charles of Austria.