The district of Manilva lies on the Western Costa del Sol between Estepona and Sotogrande and offers excellent value properties within easy reach of Gibraltar.

Manilva is made up of a number of different areas, with very distinct personalities. Within this relatively small area, you have a traditional white village up in the hills, a busy town down by the sea, a cosmopolitan port packed with bars and restaurants, traditional fishing village and lots of developments set in the hills.

Manilva Pueblo, is a small village, which is the administrative centre of the area, so has the Town Hall, a primary and secondary school, health centre and some excellent sports facilities. It isn’t the prettiest white village, but it definitely maintains its Spanish identity, while growing in popularity with foreign residents looking for a taste of “real Spain”. It is very family friendly, with lots of playgrounds and activities organised for the kids and the primary school Pablo Picasso has an excellent reputation.

Head straight down the hill from the village to the coast and you’ll find the seaside town of Sabinillas. This is where most of the services are located, including numerous banks, supermarkets, sports facilities, health centre and a large post office. It also has a long seaside promenade lined with bars and restaurants and a large stretch of sandy beach, which remains quiet even during the summer months.

Just a few kilometres from Sabinillas is Puerto de la Duquesa. Although close in distance, it is very different in character and has become a predominantly British enclave. This pretty marina is packed full of international bars and restaurants, catering to the foreign resident and tourist palates. You can travel the world through the cuisines in this little port and it’s known for its nightlife too.
Over the road from Duquesa Port you will find La Duquesa Golf Club, an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Further up the hill you’ll come to Duquesa Village, a popular expat hotspot, with bars and restaurants around a buzzing square.

For property buyers, Manilva offers a wide range of options and represents very good value for money. There are traditional properties in the village itself, as well as large villas in the surrounding countryside with land. In Sabinillas there are many newer developments with apartments, as well as townhouses and flats of every kind in the town itself, which is a good option if you don’t want to drive. There are beachfront apartments and townhouses available between Sabinillas and Duquesa, with modern and more traditional options on offer. Lastly, there are a wide range of modern developments up in the hills, with apartments and townhouses at very good prices, which are designed with international tastes in mind.

The area is popular with expats working in Gibraltar, as it is an easy commute and offers much better value for money. However, it’s only 30 minutes from the bright lights of Marbella and within easy reach of both Estepona and Sotogrande. Manilva is definitely growing in popularity as a destination and while it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of some nearby towns, it retains its authentic Spanish character. 

Not to be missed: The legendary San Juan party on the beach in Sabinillas in June, the harvest festival known as the Vendimia in September, taking a trip to the Roman baths.

Fun Fact: In the 16th century the towns of Malaga, Marbella and Ronda were concerned that the coastline in the Manilva area was unprotected, so they offered free land to poorer peasants in the north of Spain. There had to be a catch and indeed there was. The area was still subject to raids from Moorish and Turkish pirates. To give the new arrivals a fighting chance of surviving, Manilva village was located on a small hill 3km inland and that’s how the area started to develop.

Steve Wiley

Share this article