If it’s endless stretches of golden sand you are after, the Costa Brava may not be your scene. But if literally hundreds of lapis-coloured coves sound appealing, then step right along to the ‘craggy coast’. Many regular travellers to the Costa Brava prefer sunbathing at its calas, and they have a point – the rocks keep the water crystal clear and their reduced size keeps the bucket and spaders well at bay. (Instead, they head to resorts such as Roses and Lloret de Mar, which are built around long beaches.)
Smaller beaches are a feature of the villages, as the sand facilitates bringing traditional fishing boats to shore. But intrepid travellers tend to bypass those and follow the coastal roads and paths to their pebbly piece of paradise. You’ll need a car to explore the region in depth, though you could do fair chunks by bus (Sarfa Buses) if you base yourself in a major destination such as Palamós or Palafrugell and are prepared to walk.
Best Facilities in the Costa Brava
One of the main concerns is whether or not travellers will find beach beds and sun umbrellas for hire on the Costa Brava’s beaches, as summed up by a review on Trip Advisor. The reply to this review is true; aren’t many bed and brolly hire facilities on the Costa Brava, except at the larger resorts such as Lloret de Mar. This is mainly because on the small coves, there is simply no room for them.
You will however find plenty of shops selling them and these days they are light enough to be carried long distances (if you need to) and cheap enough to be left behind when you leave. The Costa Brava Tourist Office has a complete list of the region’s beaches and coves and their facilities.
Best for Families
Facilities is something that is important when travelling with kids, as younger ones may not take to swimming – and snorkelling – around the rocks. The Brilliant Trips blog recommends Roses, for its sweeping crescent shaped beach and boat trip to the nearby Cala of Joncols. In the travel section of the Telegraph, writer Fred Mawer has picked up on Tamariu,which provides a more intimate beach experience whereby parents can keep their eye on the little ones from an outdoor café, whilst writer Annie Bennett prefers Pals, for its fine stretch of golden sand. Other destinations for family fun include Platja d’ Aro and Tossa del Mar.
Most Beautiful Coves
This ‘most beautiful cove’ question is discussed endlessly by visitors to the Costa Brava, generally over a glass of cava. Truth is, that the costa has an abundance of magnificent bathing spots, where its famously craggy coastline shelters turquoise pools of water. As this list shows, there is no shortage of them, yet things to consider would be their access and facilities, though you’ll rarely find more than a chiringuito (beach bar) at most.
Certainly the coves of the Cap de Begur are considered the most stunning, particularly the coastline between Sa Tuna and Sa Riera, though you will need a car to reach them. Often it’s easiest to park your car at one of the main beaches and follow a coastal path (ask advice at your hotel or the local tourist office), as access from the main roads often involve steep climbs.
Best Coastal Walks
If you have the time and disposition, it’s possible to see the Costa Brava’s entire (almost) coastline on foot. The Cami de Ronda was once used by the country’s Civil Guard to patrol pirates and contrabandistas. Stretching from Blanes all the way up to Port Bou on the French border, it clings to the coast as far north as Roses, passing old lighthouses, delightful little maritime villages and hidden coves. Some sections have been adapted for tourists with rails and steps, particularly the lovely stretch from S’Agaro to the Cala de los Oriços, a short walk which passes gorgeous art nouveau homes on one side and has stunning Mediterranean vistas on the other.
Best for Water Sports
The Nautic Costa Brava Association, an arm of the local tourist board, has an excellent interactive map locating all the water sports facilities along the costa. L’Estartit is the base for exploring the Illes Medes (Medes Islands) marine reserve, either by glass bottom boat or in scuba gear. The legendary tramontana wind that whips up around the Bay of Roses makes it ideal for windsurfing and kite surfing (Club Mistral hires out all the gear) and there are several kayaking tours up and down the coast, leaving from the beaches of Tamariu or Palamós.