Welcome to my Puerto Duquesa blog

I've been visiting Puerto Duquesa three or four times a year for the past 20 years and have seen the area change enormously in that time. Where once there were dirt tracks and open countryside, there are now two lane motorways and apartment complexes. And whilst the area has changed and grown dramatically, it has still retained its small town, or should that be 'small marina' feel, which keeps me, and thousands others, coming back year after year.

Since I am currently in the USA it is a slightly odd time to start a blog about Puerto Duquesa, but the reason for doing so is simple - I may actually have some time to write some stuff! Most of the things I'm going to write about are things I like doing in the area or places I like going. Clearly I am not going to be able to cover everything, but hopefully I can give you a taste of what makes this such a special place and give you some ideas for your next trip.

If you can't immediately find what you are looking for, please scroll down and look in the blog archive (click the triangles to expand the list of articles). You might also want to start with these articles: Puerto Duquesa: the basics, Favourite (best?) restaurants in Puerto Duquesa, Puerto Duquesa beaches and Holiday accommodation in Puerto Duquesa. Want to get to know the area? Try A walking tour of Puerto Duquesa.

I welcome contributions, comments, criticisms and...well...praise.

If you want to link to me or you want me to link to you, that'll work too. If I think you're a good local company and you're prepared to part with a few euros, you might be lucky enough to advertise on the blog (which, fyi, is page rank 3 on Google - just type in puerto duquesa at google.com).

Thanks / Gracias

Chris (chris@cdgsmith.com) (March 2007)


Monday, May 28, 2007

Thanks for all the comments!

I've received a number of emails and comments on the blog, which have all been positive (so far!), and I thought I'd put all the suggestions together in one post. So here goes...

The Roman Oasis

The Roman Oasis has been mentioned a couple of times for its unique setting, excellent atmosphere and good food. I went here a long time ago and it was great fun, but I haven't managed to go there for some years. For those that are keen to give it a try, you can see more information on their website. It's only a 10 minute drive from Puerto Duquesa.

You could combine a hearty BBQ lunch and then hit the banos romanos (see Roman Baths near Puerto Duquesa).

Gran Hotel Elba Estepona

One visitor left the following comment: "For any ladies (and gents) who like to use Spa facilities Gran Hotel Elba Estepona, on the right as you head from Duquesa to the main Estepona roundabout has excellent treatments, massage and pool spa facilities." I'm a huge fan of spas so I will definitely be giving this a try on my next trip. I've heard that the restaurants at the hotel are meant to be good too.

Breakfast

The same visitor who mentioned the spa above (so obviously of good taste!), also commented that: "You should also visit the Straw Donkey Restaurant for breakfast, the owner is a terrific Canadian chap." Again, I will definitely be giving this a go. I usually go to Beccy's up in Monte Duquesa (on the hillside overlooking Puerto Duquesa) as this is nearer home...they do an excellent breakfast too.

Gaucin and Gibraltar

I stumbled across two excellent articles in The Times today. The first discusses the history of tapas and recommends a tapas bar in Gaucin (a 30 minute drive from Puerto Duquesa). The second discusses the continuing growth and modernisation of Gibraltar, and includes a list of attractions and things to do.

Click here for the Gaucin article.

Click here for the Gibraltar article.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A spare afternoon in Puerto Duquesa?

You can't fail to notice the magnificient site of Los Reales (the large mountain) dominating the skyline to the east of Puerto Duquesa. Rising 1,449 metres, or nearly 5,000 feet, it is one of the most recognisable features on this part of the coast and the views from the top are mindblowing.

Getting to the summit

One afternoon, my father and I set off for a drive. We hadn't planned to drive up the mountain, but the light that particular day, combined with a small amount of cloud cover, made it look even more magical than before. As we got close, we both decided that we would have to try and find our way to the top. We made a number of wrong turns to start with, but managed to find our way onto the main road winding up the mountain side. As we passed the expensive houses at the base, we wondered how long it would take to get up there...

It took us just under 2 hours, but I think it should only take an hour and a half if you avoid getting too lost at the beginning. It's definitely not a drive for those with vertigo as the latter stages are almost non-stop hairpins bends with some substantial drops if you get it wrong. My advice - take it very slowly and enjoy the view. There are viewing areas to stop on the way up and you'll know you've reached the summit when you arrive at a broadcasting station.

On the day we went, the viewing points offered clear views of the coast, but once we got to the broadcasting station at the summit we were actually above the clouds which gave it a very 'X-Files' type feel. It was also bloody freezing! If you fancy the idea of being an explorer from the comfort of your car, I'd definitely suggest waiting for a nice clear day - there would be nothing worse than driving all that way only to be up in the clouds the whole time!

I've always thought the top of Los Reales would be a fantastic vantage point to watch the sunrise, but I've never manged to get up in time...zzzzzzzzz...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Roman Baths near Puerto Duquesa

Nestled in the hills above Manilva, a 10 minute drive from Puerto Duquesa, are some well hidden Roman Baths (Banos Romanos) which are well worth a visit if you enjoy pampering yourself and don't mind the rustic setting. Manilvalife has some useful background details and directions in this article.

Making the most of your visit

The baths are known for their healing properties and the high sulphur content helps a number of different skin complaints as well as having a general toning and smoothing effect. To get the most out of your trip, you need to soak in the baths to soften the skin, then cover yourself in mud and bake in the sun, and then soak in the baths again to wash the mud off. The whole process takes around an hour and would cost you around €60 at a day spa!

Finding the mud!

It's not immediately obvious where the mud is. In order to find the 'mud wall' you need to head out of the Roman Baths down towards the river. Cross the river - it's not very deep - and head upstream (left). Here you'll find an area of the hill side which has been chisled away to reveal fresh mud. To get it off the wall, pick up a stone and scrape it against the wall (you can use your hands, but it's takes ages and will make your hands almost too smooth). Once you are covered from head to toe, it takes around 15 minutes to bake dry in the sun.

The charm of these baths is that they haven't been commercialised and are open to all. This does mean, however, that it can get very busy indeed during the weekends in the summer. I'd suggest going in the week during siesta time (2pm-5pm) to avoid the crowds. The water temperature varies according to the season and is generally too cold from October to March.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Puerto Duquesa take-away food

If you don't feel like heading out to eat (like I don't this evening!) then there are plenty of take-away options in Puerto Duquesa. I'm a huge pizza fan so I will start with my favourite:

Paparazzi Pizza

Owed by the same chap behind Il Capitano (see Restaurants in Puerto Duquesa), this small take-away pizza outlet is fantastic. You can chose from a range of pizzas by the slice or get one made to your specifications. Although the slices are good, I think getting a whole pizza freshly made is definitely preferable, and I'm fairly confident they could feed at least 3 or 4 people. A delivery service is offered although I always tend to go down to the marina to collect it myself to ensure that it doesn't get cold on the way home (I can drive faster when I'm hungry than a delivery driver!).

Chinese

There are three Chinese restaurants in Puerto Duquesa and they vary in quality. I forget the names of them and which ones are good so I will save making any comments about them. However, they are all pretty good value and all offer a take-away service.

Indian

There are two Indian restaurants in Puerto Duquesa. Passage to India (downstairs on the front line) and the other one upstairs, which used to be quite smart, but was shut down last time I was there. Again, I can't make any comments as to quality, but I know that the best Indian is a matter of extensive discussions over at the Manilvalife forums.

Icecream!

Garibalidis is quite frankly the best ice cream parlour in the world. Better than Ben and Jerrys and Hagaan Dazs put together, there are at least 30 flavours of ice creams and sorbets to satisfy any sugar craving. From small cones right the way up to large tubs to take home for the whole family, the whole range is very reasonably priced. Milkshakes or batidos are also highly recommended...

A new take-away unit next to Paparazzi Pizza was opening up last time I was in Puerto Duquesa and the chap I talked to said that it was going to be a kebab joint. If anybody wants to let me know if it's any good, I'll add some comments to the site.

La Menorah restaurant

Some good friends of mine reminded me about this excellent restaurant no more than a 10 minute drive from Puerto Duquesa. To get there, you simply head towards Estepona until you get to the main roundabout on the main road. Go all the way round the roundabout so you are coming back towards Puerto Duquesa and its the second exit on the right (the restaurant has yellow awnings and is in a small commercial area (Arena Beach) where there is also an excellent modern art gallery).

This is a typically Spanish place, albeit with a slight Basque influence, and the effusive owner and manager makes you feel very at home. If you dine early, there are likely to be a number of other English people in the restaurant, but go a little later, say 9 or 10pm, and the place is full of local Spanish people chattering away creating a nice continental atmosphere. The decor is smart and unpretentious and you can sit outside on the patio in the summer, although it is quite close to the main road so inside may be preferable.

The food is excellent and the menu wide ranging. I typically go for the gambas pil pil or the pate to start and then a filet steak or a fish dish to follow. It's good quality and simple, and for that reason quite charming. In terms of price, it is a little cheaper than the Macus (see Restaurants in Puerto Duquesa), but I would say the quality of the food is on a par.

Reservations are suggested, especially in season, and the telephone number is 952 792 734.

Gibraltar to Morocco boat race

A good friend of mine entered this a couple of years ago and had a brilliant time. Not having a crew, he left Puerto Duquesa early in the morning and made for Gibraltar. There he found a number of willing volunteers to help him guide his beloved vessel across the Straits in pretty good time (I believe he came in the top ten!).

This year the event is held on 8th June and, as in previous years, there are boats from Puerto Duquesa joining the race.

For full details click here for the Sur in English article.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Safety in Puerto Duquesa

I was browsing the forums at Andalucia.com today and came across this thread discussing safety in Puerto Duquesa. Having spent 20 years or so in and around the marina, including during the summer tourist season, I have to say that I have never seen anything untoward, but I do know that, as some of the posters on the forum say, there have been muggings in the port before.

Should this concern you? Not really! There have only been a handful of muggings and any other violent incidents (very limited) have been in the very early hours of the morning outside a couple of bars. If you apply common sense and remain aware of your surroundings when you are at the cashpoint/ATM then you should be fine. Incidentally, the other incidents I referred to have been between groups of Spanish and English youths who, after a litre of so of vodka each, have failed to settle their difference through diplomacy!

I was once in Puerto Banus when it 'kicked off' in a bar - some idiot knocked over a table of drinks, there was pushing and shoving, more tables got knocked over - and within a minute or two security men on mopeds were whizzing to the scene to sort everything out. It was, until recently, the lack of any co-ordinated security presence in Puerto Duquesa that was my only concern (especially given the increasing number of people in the area), but this has now been resolved by the installation of a 24 hour security post. See 24/7 security for Puerto Duquesa.