Seabourn Club Herald March 2012 Vol 22.1 : Page 37
Catch Some Sol Spain’s best beaches celebrate the country’s inextricable link to the sea. By Suzanne Carmel Spaniards celebrate their coastline, and rightly so. With sun-washed shores along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Spain boasts some of the world’s best beaches. Tourists and locals, young and old, unwind on the sand and stroll along the promenades as they take in spectacular scenery and colors that found their way to the palettes of Picasso and Miro. Some of the best beaches are secluded with few facilities to mar the natural surroundings; others are near bustling cities with plenty of amenities and attractions nearby. So if you find yourself wanting to take a break from touring yet still experience the best of Spain, head for the costa and take in some sol .
Catch Some Sol
Spain’s best beaches celebrate the country’s inextricable link to the sea.<br /> <br /> Spaniards celebrate their coastline, and rightly so. With sun-washed shores along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Spain boasts some of the world’s best beaches. Tourists and locals, young and old, unwind on the sand and stroll along the promenades as they take in spectacular scenery and colors that found their way to the palettes of Picasso and Miro. Some of the best beaches are secluded with few facilities to mar the natural surroundings; others are near bustling cities with plenty of amenities and attractions nearby. So if you find yourself wanting to take a break from touring yet still experience the best of Spain, head for the costa and take in some sol.<br /> <br /> BARCELONA<br /> <br /> Though this city-by-the-sea boasts nearly three miles of beaches, Barceloneta is the perfect urban beach for those who want close proximity to tourist attractions, lots of facilities and amenities and a distinct Spanish flair. The oldest beach in the city, Barceloneta gets its name from the same-named neighborhood that frames it, the old fishing quarter. Barcelona’s coastline underwent a major renovation leading up to the 1992 Olympic Games and the beach is once again popular with locals who come to enjoy the influx of bars and restaurants or to walk along the promenade.<br /> <br /> Visitors should first stop at the Centre de la Platja (beach center) to learn about Barcelona’s beaches before heading out to enjoy the amenities, which include a children’s game area, boats for hire and sports facilities for gymnastics, beach volleyball, beach tennis and table tennis. Visit the Complex Esportiu Municipal Maritim, a sports center and the first thalassotherapy center in Catalonia, complete with seawater swimming pools, both therapeutic and relaxing.<br /> <br /> VALENCIA<br /> <br /> Just a short taxi ride from the cruise ship pier, Malvarrosa Beach in Valencia is a city beach with plenty to keep visitors occupied for a day-long visit. Here, too, the beach takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood where goods from the Mediterranean once arrived. Spaniards of all ages can be found enjoying the adjacent Paseo Marítimo, strolling or biking along the promenade or sitting in the many bars and restaurants that line it.<br /> <br /> On the Paseo Marítimo, it’s even possible to visit the Museo de Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, the local writer’s former residence, which features exhibits that take you back to the time when he worked and walked along Valencia’s streets. Nearby, the Museo de Arroz explores a staple in the local diet (rice), while catamaran tours depart from Sea World at the Marina Real Juan Carlos I. If your timing is right, you might even catch one of the various festivals and events that take place on the beach — a source of vibrant activity throughout the year.<br /> <br /> CÁDIZ<br /> <br /> With 76 different beaches in the province, Cádiz certainly doesn’t suffer for lack of options for sun worshippers. Sheltered coves and inlets and open windswept beaches provide ample choices in a landscape full of pine groves, forests and salt marshes where mountains often meet the sea. La Caleta, in the provincial capital, is one of the sheltered beaches. It’s located adjacent to the old town, which is the perfect place to stroll after enjoying the sun.<br /> <br /> La Caleta is situated between two castles — Santa Catalina and San Sebastián — with the former La Palma Spa, now the Underwater Archaeology Center, overlooking the beach. This is one of the spots where the James Bond movie Die Another Day was filmed. The center is open to the public and features guided tours. Visitors can also walk through Santa Catalina Castle, which is also open to the public and offers free admission. (San Sebastián Castle is currently under renovation.)<br /> <br /> GALICIA<br /> <br /> Nature lovers and those seeking a more secluded beach experience should take a boat from Estación Marítima (at the port area) to Rodas Beach, located on the Cíes Islands, which was declared a Natural Park in 2002. The beach joins the islands of Monteagudo to the north and Faro in the middle of this three-island archipelago. Though the beach has a few basic facilities, people come here for the fine sand, clear water and natural sand dunes rather than services and amenities.<br /> <br /> There are a few restaurants close to the beach for fueling up before venturing on one of four walking routes that highlight local scenery. Walks range from one to two-and-a-half hours and include sites such as the Natural Interpretive Center and a bird observatory where thousands of yellow-legged gulls nest on the cliffs and a group of shags can sometimes be seen nesting near the shoreline. The walks also provide excellent views of the islands, cliffs, beaches and the Bay of Vigo.<br /> <br /> BALEARIC ISLANDS<br /> <br /> The four islands that comprise the Balearic Island chain have a wide array of beaches from which to choose, but two popular beaches, found on Ibiza and Mallorca, are great places to enjoy sun and sand, as well as to see and be seen. Ibiza’s Ses Salinas Beach (a short taxi ride from the port) is located in a natural park, is blessed with crystal-clear water for water sports and boasts an assortment of restaurants and beach clubs. Soccer fans will likely catch sight of famous vacationing players as it’s a favorite spot for many of them.<br /> <br /> Mallorca’s Cala Major, near the capital city of Palma, is often bustling with both tourists and locals. The sandy beach is sheltered from the wind by the Marivent Palace, sandwiched between the cliffs of Porto Pi and Cala Major and the summer residence of the Spanish Royal Family. On the other side, the beach is protected by the many hotels that line the sand. After visiting the beach, take a short taxi ride into Palma to tour the Arab baths, enjoy the Gothic and Modernist city architecture and the many local restaurants and shops.<br /> <br /> This sampling of Spain’s incredible beaches illustrates the country’s abiding love of the sun and the sea. While visiting, be sure to take some time to unwind in one of these distinct environments as you soak in the sun — and the local culture — at the same time.
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