A Brief History of Estepona
Early man under the Sierra Bermeja
The sierras, that rise to over 1400 metres behind Estepona, provided the water necessary to enable early man to survive. The River Guadalmansa which enters the sea to the east of Estepona was the main conduit for the fresh water, and there is evidence of man roaming the area as long ago as 60,000 before today. Carved stone tools, axes and pottery have been found in the Estepona area, showing that man hunted and farmed through until neolithic times, 7,000 years ago; and later than that metal was worked, evidenced by the discovery of copper tools dating from around 5,000 years ago.
Farming continued to provide the main employment for villagers around present-day Estepona, but the arrival of the Romans around the 3rd century BC brought an increase in fishing to cater for the insatiable demand for garum (fermented fish sauce). There may have been fish processing factories on the coast at Estepona although there is no hard evidence for this. It was generally the custom to build fish factories on the outskirts of towns because of the smell generated during garum production. Although scattered artefacts from the Roman era were found in Estepona, the main centres of population appear to have been several kilometres to the east around the mouth of the Guadalmansa River, and perhaps also a few kilometres to the west where a cemetery, dating from Roman times, was discovered.
Occupation of southern Spain by the Moors
It was during the occupation of much of Spain by the Moors from the 8th to 15 th centuries that Estepona probably first developed as a village. It was referred to as Astubbuna, the first known usage of the name that would be corrupted into Estepona after the Christian Reconquest. The importance of Astubuna during the Moorish era is rather obscure. A castle was built on the hills behind present-day Estepona around the 9th century, with further fortification occurring in this ‘El Nicio’ area during the 10th and 11th centuries. However, on this fairly remote inland hill there is evidence of earlier Roman occupation which suggests it may have no direct connection to Astubbuna. It is more likely that the 10th century fort , traces of which survive in the centre of Estepona, was the focal point of a prospering village building on its reputation as a safe haven for trading between the Middle East, North Africa and more exotic places west of the Gibraltar Straits. The golden era of Astubbuna appears to have been early in the Moorish occupation, with little remaining of the town by the time of the reconquest in 1456. The decline was inexplicable, although its position on the main trading route from the east made it particularly vulnerable to the Black Death that spread from China during the 14th century and wiped out many communities across Europe.
Re-conquest of ‘Estepona’
In 1456 the Castilian army, answerable to Henry IV. captured the town of Astubbuna, but for the following 36 years it was largely a pile of ruins while skirmishing continued prior to the final expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492. Estepona, as it now became known as, slowly expanded outwards at the beginning of the 1500s from the rebuilt fortress (St Luis), and the new church built on the site of the old mosque. As the risk of pirates and attacks from north Africa decreased, the fortifications fell into disuse. Villagers plundered the fortress for building materials, and by the end of the 19th century there was little remaing of the turbulent history apart from a few old walls and the renovated bell tower, probably an old minaret, which still survives today.
….and tourism arrives on the Costa del Sol
The tourists arrived late in Estepona, and although a huge expansion occurred in the ’80s, the resort maintained a more gentile existence. Nevertheless, the usual holiday attractions are available, from bars, to restaurants and from discotheques to boat parties. There is much less brashness than in many of the resorts further east, and although there are many foreigners to be found living or holidaying in Estepona, it has a much more Spanish feel about it than some other resorts. This is reflected in the cuisine in many of the restaurants. Gibraltar is the nearest major airport, and in recent years it has attracted the new generation of rich and famous. In the ’50s it was Torremolinos, in the ’70s it was Marbella…..and now Estepona.
General Climate and Weather in Estepona
The Sierra Bermeja rise to over 1400 metres to the north and northwest of Estepona. This often affords shelter from rain-bearing clouds during the winter months, but can occasionally lead to very high temperatures, the foehn wind, during other seasons. Generally, though the climate is very agreeable in all months, with plenty of sunshine, winter mildness, and with the benefit of slightly reduced summer heat due to a closer proximity of the cooling Atlantic Ocean compared with resorts further east.
Weather in Estepona in January
|Average Maximum 16C/61F||Average Minimum 9C/48F||Days with rain falling 7|
There is usually plenty of sunshine during January and the rain, when it arrives, normally lasts, on and off, for 2 or 3 days before the sun returns for a week or more. Temperatures, although not especially high, do feel pleasant enough in the afternoon sunshine, On 2 or 3 days in the month, the temperature rises close to 20 Celsius (68F), but on the cloudy and wet days maxima may be no higher than 11 Celsius (52F). The evenings will usually feel chilly, and on rare occasions, the larger gardens on the outskirts of the town may have a frost on the grass for an hour or two around dawn.
Weather in Estepona in February
|Average Maximum 17C/63F||Average Minimum 9C/48F||Days with rain falling 6|
This month can be described as early Spring, with flowers blooming and, by the middle of February, the famous Andalusian almond blossom begins to appear. Temperature levels are not too different from those of January, and the evenings and nights remain cool. However, as the heat from the sun increases, the afternoon stroll along the lengthy promenade to the marina cafes becomes more comfortably warm. Rain, as in January, usually comes in a spell that lasts for 2 or 3 days at a time before clear blue skies follow. It may turn breezy for a while after a wet spell, but strong winds are seldom an inconvenience.
Weather in Estepona in March
|Average Maximum 19C/66F||Average Minimum 11C/52F||Days with rain falling 6|
Some excellent days occur in March but the early risers usually enjoy the best of the weather. A typical March day will start cool and sunny with a gentle wind blowing down from the Sierra Bermeja. Temperatures will rise rapidly and by noon values will be around 18 or 19 Celsius. A few clouds may develop, then quite suddenly the wind will shift right round and blow in from the sea. The sea is as cold as at any time of year in March, around 15 Celsius, so once the sea breeze has become established during the afternoon the promenade is best avoided. As for rain falling, perhaps a short-lived fall once or twice a week.
Weather in Estepona in April
|Average Maximum 21C/70F||Average Minimum 12C/54F||Days with rain falling 5|
Only the keenest bathers would swim in the sea off Estepona during April. A morning of sunshine and temperatures touching 21 Celsius may lure many people to the beach, but around midday the inevitable sea breeze arrives and temperatures fall to a less than comfortable 17 Celsius. In most Aprils there are 1 or 2 days when the land breeze persists and in the absence of the sea wind the temperature can rise to a very dry 25 Celsius, or more. Once or twice during the month a short unsettled spell is likely to occur, and an occasional day may be spoilt by cloud cover and rain.
Weather in Estepona in May
|Average Maximum 23C/73F||Average Minimum 15C/59F||Days with rain falling 3|
This is perhaps the best month to visit Estepona if yachting or walking in the hills is the main priority. The mornings are usually sunny and warm. Around midday, just as it begins to become uncomfortably warm, the sea breeze sets in and the afternoons are normally sunny and pleasantly warm. Of course, it is very easy to get sunburnt during May, especially as the brisk sea breeze gives a false sense of protection from burning. On 1 or 2 occasions during the month, the temperature can exceed 30 Celsius (86F), but in most Mays there are a couple of cooler unsettled interludes.
Weather in Estepona in June
|Average Maximum 27C/81F||Average Minimum 18C/64F||Days with rain falling 1|
The sun beats down relentlessly from a clear blue sky. Not completely true, but certainly a close approximation to the weather in June. Occasionally, say once or twice a month, a band of cloud may spoil the sunshine and this could produce an hour or two of rain. High-level thunderstorms, moving north from Morocco, may produce a few spots of dust-laden rain, and sea fog or low cloud may be an unwelcome visitor. Otherwise it’s sunshine, and just the odd unpleasant day when the temperature rises close to 38 Celsius (100F).
Weather in Estepona in July
|Average Maximum 27C/81F||Average Minimum 19C/66F||Days with rain falling <1|
Rain is so rare in July it is not worth a mention. Bands of high cloud occasionally prevent a day of full sunshine but the normal July pattern of weather is this. After a warm and fairly humid night, there is a dip in temperature to 19 or 20 Celsius around dawn. The morning then warms up rapidly, reaching around 27 Celsius between midday and 1 pm. The light wind on the beach then quite quickly becomes a steady breeze off the sea. With sea temperatures generally around 21 Celsius in July, the afternoon breeze is very refreshing. On rare occasions the sea breeze fails and it becomes very hot.
Weather in Estepona in August
|Average Maximum 27C/81F||Average Minimum 20C/68F||Days with rain falling 1|
During this month it becomes unpleasant at times for those without air-conditioning. Although temperature levels are similar to those of July, the humidity is higher and the sea breeze is usually lighter and less refreshing. Nevertheless, the sea is pleasantly warm, and the weather is normally reliably sunny, albeit rather hazy. On rare occasions, most likely later in the month, the day is cloudier, and a thunderstorm may occur, by way of contrast on 1 or 2 days the failure of the sea breeze may result in temperatures near 38 Celsius (100F) by day, and not falling much below 26 Celsius overnight.
Weather in Estepona in September
|Average Maximum 26C/79F||Average Minimum 19C/66F||Days with rain falling 2|
September in Estepona is a summer month. The first week or two can be hot and humid, and nights with temperatures remaining above 22 Celsius are not uncommon. Pollution levels sometimes appear high, but the chance of relief from refreshing rain slowly increases with cloud and thundery downpours a distinct possibility after mid month. An unwelcome visitor can be an upwe lling of cold water can that can result in sea fog lapping on to the beaches. This can happen at any time during the summer months as well, but the phenomenon is rare.
Weather in Estepona in October
|Average Maximum 23C/73F||Average Minimum 17C/61F||Days with rain falling 5|
October weather in Estepona is unreliable, but usually warm. The figures say that it is the wettest month of the year with rainfall approaching 100 mm (4 inches)n, but they don’t say that the rain often falls during severe thunderstorms with curtains of water that often last for less than 2 hours. The sea remains warm, partly the cause of those storms, but the adjacent land also stays pleasantly warm and without the intense heat from the sun. On balance, this month probably vies with May as the best month to visit this part of Spain, but there are no guarantees for dry weather.
Weather in Estepona in November
|Average Maximum 19C/66F||Average Minimum 12C/54F||Days with rain falling 7|
The nights have lengthened in Estepona by this time of year, but are not as long as they are in northern Europe. Of all the months, November probably offers the best contrast between the grey and cold of northern latitudes and the sun, and relative warmth, of the Costa del Sol. Early in the month, temperatures regularly reach 20 Celsius, or more, and to have 2 consecutive cloudy days is rare. The weather can be thundery at times, and sometimes rain be very heavy, but bright sunshine is seldom far away and, in some years, the sea is warm enough to bathe in, at least early in the month.
Weather in Estepona in December
|Average Maximum 17C/63F||Average Minimum 10C/50F||Days with rain falling 7|
There can be some poor weather in December anywhere in Europe, and even Estepona can have 3 or 4 days of breezy, wet and cool conditions with temperatures struggling to reach 12 Celsius. However, this is the exception and, although not warm, there is sufficient sunshine to gladden the heart of a visitor from the north. The evenings and nights are normally quite cold, and in drier Decembers a frost may occur on the grass in larger inland gardens. Occasionally the temperature may approach 20 Celsius (68F), but the lower humidity accelerates the cooling when evening arrives.