Most people will not think of Roquetas del Mar when they think of Andalucía. That is exactly what makes this quaint fishing village the perfect secret getaway spot.

Wander along the harbor where the local fishermen are hard at work bringing in the catch of the day or mending frayed nets. Enter the Faro de Roquetas where paintings, sculptures and photographs retell the history of the region. Stroll along the sandy beach where the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans once alit. Watch the waves lap against the Castillo de Roquetas, a fortress built by its Muslim forefathers when they settled there in the 18th century.

Arrive in Roquetas del Mar on 29 December and take part in one of the town’s most enduring traditions. Las Moragas. Though the origin of the festival is a bit hazy, oral tradition has passed down a number of legends. Most revolve around the region’s fishing trade. In the 19th century, before the city was teeming with its modern-day ports, the families of sailors out to sea would amass on the beach awaiting the seafarers’ return. As the journey was long and perilous, the feast was not only in recognition of the seamen’s homecoming, but also a showing of gratitude to the sea for safe passage and the bounty of its mysterious depths.

But the name Las Moragas surely stems from the Arabic word muhraqa, which quite specifically denotes the cooking over fire of dried fruits, sardines and other fish. And should you find yourself on the beach during the festivities, your olfactory senses will be overwhelmed with the scents of the tradition and folklore of the Roquetas. The bonfires are already blazing in the morning hours in preparation for an evening of feasting, revelry, dancing and merry-making. Festival-goers indulge in fresh catch all day long and well into the wee hours of the morning. And at the end of the evening, the locals smear their faces with the burnt ash. A reminder of the celebration.

Come to Roquetas del Mar to steep yourself in rich local tradition, scoff down local cuisine and experience the authentic Spanish flare of a still untouched precious gem!