Chipiona is a resort on the Costa de la Luz, around 30 miles (50km) from Cadiz. The town is notable for its beautiful natural beaches and traditional seafood restaurants. Chipiona is popular with visitors from Seville during July and August, although it remains fairly relaxed the rest of the time. Tourists also come to the resort for the health benefits of its iodine-rich spa waters.
Chipiona has several excellent beaches. The best of these, Playa del Camaron and Playa de la Regla, are situated east of the town. They are notable for their fine white sand, and they have both been awarded a European Blue Flag. To the north of Chipiona is the rockier beach of Playa las Canteras, which is located next to the lighthouse. There are many water sports on offer at the resort, including snorkeling, windsurfing and scuba diving. Kite surfing has also become popular in the last few years. Chipiona has a small port which is home to a sailing school.
At 69 metres high, Chipona's dominant lighthouse is the tallest in Spain, and the powerful lights can be seen from up to 25 miles away on a clear night. It was built on the site of a former Roman lighthouse which warned sailors of the dangerous waters surrounding the small island of Salmedina. Construction of the present lighthouse began in 1863 and it was completed in 1867. To enjoy the spectacular views you can climb the 344 steps to the top.
King Fernando III re-conquered Chipiona in 1251, and several decades later the castle was built. In 1399 Pedro Ponce de Leon gave the castle to the San Agustin monks who converted it in to a monastery. The monks named the monastery after the Virgen de Regla, who is also patron saint of the town.
The Donana National Park is situated just a few miles north of Chipiona. Occupying an area of wetlands on the banks of the river Guadalquivir, the park is home to an impressive variety of animals, including the extremely rare Iberian Lynx and Imperial Eagle. There are also colonies of white storks, grey herons and spoonbills. Although you are free to walk along the coastal stretch of the park, access to the inland areas is limited. To visit these parts you must book a guided tour.
There are some good tapas bars lining Chipiona's main street, many of which serve sherry straight from the barrel. The town has a variety of bars and restaurants offering a range of cuisine, including Mexican, Spanish and Chinese. An excellent place to eat is El Chato, thought to be one of the oldest restaurants in Spain. Its speciality is the tomato soup known as Salmorejo. The area around Chipiona is also renowned for the Moscatel wine.
One of Chipiona's most important traditions is the annual parade which takes place on 1st November. It celebrates the fact that the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755 barely touched the town. Another important event is the Saint's Day held on the 8th September.