Fuengirola is now the biggest - and most bustling - resort along the 72 miles that make up the Costa del Sol.

The town is broken up with lots of little "hamlets", starting with Carvajal and Torreblanca in the east, and continuing down the coast to Los Boliches, Fuengirola Port and Castle Sohail as you look beyond the boundary to Marbella, Estepona and beyond.

The seaside strip is called the Paseo Maritimo, and almost eight miles long. Almost every yard of the way you'll find yourself alongside a bar, shop, restaurant, or hotel.

Thankfully, Fuengirola has so far resisted the high-rise approach to architecture that created the monstrosity of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca, but is still very much "in your face" wherever you look.

So don't put this resort on your wish list if sophistication is at the top of it. No, if sophistication's your thing, give Marbella or Puerto Banus a fling, but think T-shirt and flip-flops if you are vacationing in Fuengirola.

All the town's beaches have a sprinkling of chiringuitos (restaurants), where jugs of sangria and plates of paella are typical tourist fare, but scratch below the surface and you'll find the menu (la carta) has a great deal more to tempt the palate.

Swordfish, tuna steaks, giant prawns, and local fresh fish such as rosada are all available, as are that perennial favourite - sardines.

Lunch is traditionally taken much later in Spain (at least by the Spaniards!), so you are always likely to find a beachside table before 2pm, but may struggle if you leave it beyond that.

Two recommended Fuengirola chiringuito are Los Andaluces in Carvajal, and, much further down the coast, near Hotel Pyramides, the Gali Gali.

Good, honest fare can be found in both,  and service is warm and friendly, too. Expect a meal for two - jug of wine, bread, starter (say a few grilled sardines), main course and coffee - to cost as little as 25 euros.

You can easily pay double that, of course, depending on your choice, but even a couple of beers and two toasted sandwiches shouldn't add up to more than 10 euros.

The place to head for at night to eat is Fuengirola's "Fish Alley". The street runs parallel to Paseo Maritimo, and starts at Hotel Puerto, near the marina and harbour. Whatever your fondness for food, be it Spanish, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Thai, or International, you'll find it here.

Don't expect to dine alone, for there will be literally thousands of like-minded tourists there at peak season, all shuffling along the narrow street in the hope of seeing a menu that tickles the taste buds, or a price that suits the pocket.

So many to choose, so what's best? Well, Don Pé and Moocher's are unlikely to disappoint, but the all-time favourite has to be Casa Roberto's at 8 Calle Espana.

If you are a golfer, or simply have an interest in the great game, owner Senor Roberto has set up his hostelry in such a way as to earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, though you'll have to figure out why for yourself!

Let's just say your night is guaranteed to go with a swing. And the food is ace, too!

Getting in and out of Fuengirola from Malaga Airport couldn't be simpler. A taxi from door to door currently costs around 35 euros, while it's less than two euros if you make the 34-minute trip by Renfe train.

Be aware that Fuengirola is the end of the line. Onward journeys to the likes of Marbella, Mijas Pueblo, Puerto Banus and Estepona can all be done by transferring to one of the service buses that gather less than 80 yards from the train station exit.

Setting your sights further afield couldn't be easier if you opt to go on a day excursion. Granada, Seville, Ronda, Nerja, Gibraltar can all be reached (and returned) between breakfast and dinner, while stretch your timetable a couple of hours and a visit to Tangiers and Morocco is yours for less than 60 euros.

Fuengirola is a happy-go-lucky kind of town that is likely to hit the spot every time if you are a happy-go-lucky kind of holidaymaker. Maybe they should rename it Fun-girola!