Rota, Spain | Benefits of Staying with Friends Abroad

After a few days of strolling through the busy streets of Barcelona, we headed to southern Spain to visit our friends in Rota.

“Welcome to Andalucia, LJ & Brett.” the sign read as Maria & Javi greeted us with their contagious smile. It was exciting to see them again in their hometown after meeting in the Maldives a year ago. We wouldn’t have known about Rota if they hadn’t invited us, and this was such an enjoyable and unforgettable trip not to share it will all of you!


Southern Spain was a welcomed contrast from spending the first few days in Northern Spain. Barcelona, with all of its architectural beauty & lively city life, is fun to immerse yourself in its culture. It is vibrant, full of life, & moves at such a fast pace.

Rota, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from all that was Barcelona. Alongside the ocean, it’s a breath of fresh air far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We could feel the calming presence throughout this magnificent town. The quiet beaches, impressive views, and down-to-earth people made us feel right at home.

If you’re planning to visit Rota, the best time to travel depends on preference. Do you love crowds or prefer something a bit less crowded? For us, September was a perfect time as we avoided the summer crowds allowing us to experience the beaches, shops, and all the sites free from the hustle and bustle we experienced in Barcelona.

*click on the photo to enlarge*

Traveling, to us, is more meaningful when we can absorb ourselves into the local culture. We’ve been on many trips, but it was when we went to Fiji some years ago our travels became more purposeful. We now find our trips more rewarding when we meet new people from different places, gaining a different perspective on life. Maria and Javi showed us their way of life from Spain’s point of view!

Home Away from Home

When we arrived, they gave us a tour of their home, showed us our room and surprising us with an unexpected “Happy Anniversary”! They decorated our bed and showered us with gifts, including a frame with our favorite picture. Their genuine hospitality & thoughtfulness made us feel right at home.


Mealtimes for us took a little getting used to.  For example, in America, mealtimes are generally like this: Breakfast 7-8:00, Lunch 12-2:00, Dinner 6-8:00.  In Spain, it was more like: Breakfast 7-9:00, Lunch 2-3:30, and Dinner 9-11:00 pm.

Not only were we adjusting to the 9 hour time difference, but we were also adjusting to the mealtimes.  We quickly realized how structured we lived in America.  Crazy at how routine oriented we can become, but we quickly adapted to the change of routine.


Every morning, we walked out to the living room, feeling the fresh ocean breeze coming through the house as Javi & Maria prepared breakfast. We often asked what we could do to help, & they would almost always say “no” in unison. Haha.

One typical breakfast in Spain, we soon learned and had almost every morning, included coffee, toasted baguettes with an assortment of ham, cheese, tomatoes, olive oil (a lot of it), and fruit.  Everything was so fresh, something we kept noticing throughout our trip.

Lunch & Dinner

When Javi told us that we were going to try a lot of food during our visit, he was not kidding! It makes me full just thinking about it. The majority of the time, they ordered for us at restaurants, which was great because it saved us plenty of time from figuring out the menu & having to pull up our translate app! If you’re not sure what to order, Tapas is the best way to get a little taste of everything.

We tried many different local dishes such as fish, shrimp (the biggest I’ve ever seen), squid, and so many others that I wished we had done a better job of remembering.  The deserts, drinks, and overall atmosphere had us feeling as though we could stay forever.


Our time with Maria & Javi was an adventure within an adventure! It was a big plus being with them because they know exactly where to go & what to do.

We did PLENTY of walking, & one of our favorite walks was through Camino Natural de Rota.  It’s a wooden pathway that goes miles through the peaceful “forest,” taking you along the coast to town or vice versa, depending on where you start.

The combination of beautiful music nature created around us, great company, and continuous conversations made for a perfect walk. Walking the Camino Natural de Rota is a must-do if you’re visiting!


A few days before returning home to the states, Javi took us paddleboarding before sunset. What an unforgettable experience we had with him and Maria. Being out on the water making memories with my wife was, for me, the best part of Rota.

I kept thinking to myself how blessed my wife and I were to be thousands of miles away, literally paddleboarding into the sunset in Spain! We’re so grateful for opportunities like these that remind us to take time for ourselves to spend with our families.


Living on the west coast of the United States, I have always felt that we get to see some of the most beautiful sunsets. Rota’s sunsets are magnificent! It had us in awe from our time out on the water, nightly terrace talks, and road trips, which I will be sharing on our next blog.


Maria and Javi treated us like family from the first day we arrived. Not only did they open up their home, but they made us feel like we were home away from home by simply personalizing our space.

We are incredibly grateful for their hospitality and never ending humor!  It was such a breath of fresh air being around people who are so down-to-earth. They reminded us even more to appreciate the simple things, friendship, and family. We left Spain, gaining a family.

Maria and Javi, thank you so much for an unforgettable experience, lasting memories, and opening up your home (and fridge) 😉

Have you ever been to Rota, Spain? We’d love to hear all about your experiences! Leave us a comment below. 

Comments (12)

Looks like a wonderful time with terrific hosts. Thanks for sharing!!

You’re welcome, Dawn, & thank you for stopping by. We had a wonderful time.

What a lovely post! The hospitality was simply amazing. I really enjoy the “live like a local” theme whenever possible. Although I’ve been Europe many times, I’m still missing a visit to Spain. That’s a problem that I need to fix…

Mark / Mark’s Travel Journal

You would love Spain Mark…definitely need to remedy that one for sure!

Very informative post about other parts of Spain we don’t hear about. It sounds like a lovely variation from the Spain most people see. Tons of info, thanks!

Hi, Monga. Thank you so much for your feedback. We really enjoyed the southern part of Spain as its coastal and not so touristy. Take care and stay safe.

We are in the process of applying for a visa so we can move to Rota! I recognize every single place in your photos, and I can’t wait to get back there!
I love reading about others’ experiences in Rota, because it is rare to meet an American (non-military) who has even heard of it, let alone visited!

Hi, Stephanie! Yes, likewise, and glad you found us on here and we look forward to following your journey on Instagram as well. We really enjoyed our time there in Rota. Our friends, who hosted us, we met in the Maldives during our 2018 holiday and we fell in love with Southern Spain. Who knows, maybe we will cross paths in Rota in the future. Take care! -LJ

I am so happy to have found a post from an international blog about my hometown :). I am so glad you enjoyed and embraced Andalusian culture. Your comments made me think of my own impressions after living overseas for over 9 years, like breakfast, meal times… It felt nice to read about Rota from your point of view 🙂

Hi, Patri. Thank you for stopping by and finding us outside of social media. We fell in love with southern Spain & look forward to going back. We went in September & planned on going back in June for our friend’s wedding, but that’s been rescheduled.
Not often have we seen posts on Rota on Instsgram nor blog posts, so its been wonderful connecting with you & a military couple whose planning on moving back there soon after retirement 🙂

Beautiful places, delicious food, happy people!

It was a wonderful experience, manang! From being strangers in the Maldives to being friends and being invited to visit them in their country. Priceless. Thank you for stopping by and showing support! =) (((hugs))))

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