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Escape to Agua Amarga


A poolside scene; a well-lunched and yellow speedo’ed ex-pat lazes under the baking Spanish sun. Sweat drips, skin crisps and The Stranglers provide the soundtrack…

“Ohh, who wouldn’t lap this up? It’s ridiculous. Tremendous. Fantastic. Fan-dabby-dozy-tastic.”

Photo: Unclebucko/Flickr

The sun is high, the shimmering pool a brilliant blue, and beyond the villa terrace a wild and arid landscape stretches out. Sound at all familiar? Of course, it’s the famous opening roll of ‘Sexy Beast’, a modern classic scene that begins the feted and Oscar-nominated Anglo-Spanish crime drama.

However, what is likely much less familiar is the name, Agua Amarga. This is the name of the white-washed fishing village whose surrounding area provided the distinctive backdrop and setting of the film. Found in a quiet and sheltered bay, Agua Amarga sits on the edge of the Cabo de Gata nature reserve – the wild and dreamlike landscape where a gun-toting feral rabbit/human figure makes a somewhat baffling appearance in the film. This reserve is Andalucia’s largest coastal natural park with thousands of acres of unspoilt beauty, all with a rather lunar feel – mile after mile of rocky hills and headlands interspersed with volcanic craters.

As yet relatively unknown to the British, the small resort retains a “getting away from it” feel, long overlooked due to it’s distance from the popular airports combined with a historically poor road network. However recent construction of new road infrastructure is seeing the region around the city of Almeria (60km west of Agua Amarga) experience something of a mini-boom. In addition, the twisting mountain roads of the area are becoming an attraction in themselves, with stunning views of the sea and coastline.

Pic: fjmenendez/Flickr

Increased tourist interest is being fueled by budget airlines, with adventurous holidaymakers taking advantage of cheap flights to the airports of southern Spain. Transfers from Malaga airport will take around 3 hours, with Alicante being a similar distance to the north.

Agua Amarga itself is small, nestled between two cliffs and fronted by a fine, sandy beach that stretches almost a kilometre along turquoise waters of the shallow bay. The architecture has a strong Moorish influence, combined with the controlled tourist development of recent times that mixes the traditional with the modern. This quiet corner of Andalucia has learnt from the previous mistakes made by adjacent Costa’s. A popular resort with the Spanish, Agua Amarga is at the relaxed end of the holiday destination spectrum, with water sports on offer and a selection of bars and restaurants along the seafront.

Escape is certainly a central theme of the Sexy Beast, and therefore in turn it is fitting that the secluded village where it was filmed offers the opportunity to escape the crowds elsewhere on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

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