Shhh. Whisper its name. Keep it quiet and just to yourself. Better still, use the Roman name for possibly the loveliest coastal town in Spain, named for the Consul Caepion.

We had stumbled across the most enchanting of places, perched at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River on the Atlantic coast. Its lighthouse has stood since the times of Ancient Greece, and buried in a reef nearby, known as the Stone of Salmedina, is the legendary giant of mythology, Geryon.

Plaza del Castillo

The town’s fishermen still make their living using the original Roman corrales, manmade stone walls built along the seafront that are used as a trap to capture crustaceans and fish as the tide ebbs and flows. It’s a sustainable way of fishing and only a few licensed ‘catchers’ can reap the twice daily harvest.

Everyone benefits though as the many seafood restaurants and bodegas serve the freshest, most delicious morsels at ridiculously reasonable prices.

Roman corrales in the sea

We had a rare lunch out in a pretty square that is formed the convent and church of Our Lady of O, a gorgeous stone baroque edifice topped with turrets, domes and a bell tower tiled in blue and white. In the square tables were full of people eating al fresco between the palm trees and cascading bougainvillea.

Three tasty dishes of a seafood cocktail, albondigas (meatballs) and a seafood paella were polished off with a liberal glass of Manzanilla, the light dry sherry of the region. And still we had change from €10! For two travellers on an extremely tight budget we felt as though we had arrived in heaven.

The Paseo Costa de la Luz (Passageway of the Coast of Light) wraps the coastline of the town and its beaches.

We cycled its length admiring pretty corners of white-washed and flower potted houses. A Moorish flavour dots the town including at its fortress castle with a crenellated roofline and tall arched windows. It faces directly onto the sea and sports an arcaded courtyard above the harbour walls.

Chipiona view

The lighthouse, reputed to be the tallest in Spain, towers elegantly up to 69 meters. It was built in 1867 on the site of earlier faros.

Its purpose was to warn approaching ships of the danger of the underwater Salmedina Stone, as well as to alert to the navigable waterway of the river.

Seaside living

At the end of the town, the massive Sanctuary of Our Lady of Regia houses the town’s shrine to the black Madonna, reputedly bought to the seashore by the disciples of St Augustine in Africa in the 5th century.

Although a documented version informs the Madonna came to the town in the possession of Leon monks in the 14th century.

Harvesting leeks in the sun

We cycled the few miles to Chipiona from our campsite at nearby Sanlúcar de Barrameda, along a former railway line. A family was hard at work harvesting a field of impressively tall leeks.

The strong gusting winds blew clouds of red sandy soil around them as they piled bundles of leeks into tall metal cages.

Vineyard by the old railway line

Little farmsteads of goats and chickens lined the track and there were plenty of groomed and shining horses and ponies in sandy paddocks.

We liked Chipiona so much that we stayed to return to it the following day, a hot and still Sunday. The town was packed with families and friends processing between bodegas and tapas bars.

Bodega el Castillito

We ventured into the extremely popular bar by the castle for a tasting of Muscatel, made locally. Not pudding wine drinkers, we were both taken by the chilled, sweet and refreshing amber drink.

Having learnt about the varieties of Fino and Manzanilla in both Jerez and Cadiz we were now experts at spotting what people were drinking. And drinking they were!

Bodegas Cesar Florido

All ages were happily toasting and quaffing the different fortified wines, the younger ones from jugs mixed with fizzy pop and the older ones in large sherry glasses with short stems. Beer came in tiny glasses and interestingly we didn’t see too many of them being ordered!

We gamely tackled a proffered tapa each of two fried fishes. It didn’t do to turn them away and in truth they were salty and very tasty.

Sunday afternoon seemed to be about a slow amble around the narrow streets of the Old Town, decked with flowerpots and hanging baskets, and stopping at every bodega along the way.

The air was rich with warm greetings and animated conversations, and the aromas of garlic, seafood and charcoal-grilled meats. We heard only Spanish spoken and apart from a couple of other visitors that we recognised from our campsite, we realised that we were surrounded by locals and visiting Spanish families.

Old Town street and flowerpots

It was hard to tear ourselves away, but there was one last treat in store. As the sun set over the calm sea (so calm that two trawlers had beached on the sandbank and were lying at 45 degrees angles on the tide) we saw molten clouds of gold, amber and crimson mix and melt into each other.

It was a glorious sight and a fitting end to two days spent in a very special, authentic and uncrowded place. If you go, you will love it too, but do keep the name to yourself!

Sunset over the Atlantic