Let’s talk Beaches
If you like hitting the beach you won’t be disappointed in Spain.
Spain is a peninsula with over 8000 kilometers of coastline. The question is which beach should you go to.
Do you prefer long sandy beaches that go on for kilometers with no end? Or do you like small quiet private coves? Do you want to head to a beach that has a promenade full of restaurants, shopping and nightlife or do you prefer quiet fishing villages or ports with yachts?
Here is an overview of the beaches of Spain so you can make the best choice for the type of beach you and your family would like to hang out on.
The Mediterranean is where most people think of when they think of Spain. They imagine a whitewashed village perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters. This picturesque stereotype does exist, but the entire coastline is not like this.
Here is a breakdown of the beaches along the Mediterranean.
Costa del Sol
Pros of the Costa del Sol:
Costa del Sol has the longest beach season in Spain.
Even if you come in the winter months the weather is pleasant, often in the high teens or even reaching the low 20’s. The rest of the year it is much warmer. The Costa del Sol spreads from Gibraltar to Malaga.
This area of the coastline has been the playground for the rich and famous for decades. It is pricier than other areas of the coastline, but you also get a higher quality of tourism. The hotels are nicer, you will have no problem if you don’t speak Spanish as all the people who work in the shops, restaurants and hotels speak English.
The area around Malaga, Marbella and Puerto Banus is lush, green and has a lot of vegetation. The hotels, restaurants and shopping are all quality and have excellent service. There are over 70 golf courses in the area, so if golfing is on your list of must do’s this is a place to go.
As this area is very touristy there is no shortage of activities for old and young alike. There are shows, aquariums, and many places of interest such as: Aqualand, Crocodile Park, Picasso Museum and the Alcazaba de Malaga— and these activities are just scratching the surface.
Cons of the Costa del Sol
The beaches themselves aren’t as appealing as some of the other beaches along the coast, in my opinion. (I can already hear the tourist boards screaming with indignation at such a comment!) They tend to be smaller, rockier and are crowded.
You might not get the "authentic Spanish" vacation you are looking for because there are so many tourists.
Pros of the Costa Blanca
Turquoise waters, small villages and green valleys are what you will find along the Costa Blanca. Costa Blanca has 200 km of coastline, so the only challenge will be to discover which is your favourite stretch of beach. The top towns I would recommend are: Javea, Calpe and Denia. These towns all cater to tourism and have an abundance of things to do as well as long sandy beaches waiting for you to take a morning stroll or sit out and get some sun.
Cons of the Costa Blanca
I DON’T recommend Benidorm. It is a party town that is more British than Spanish, the streets smell of old beer and last nights party. If you are coming to Spain thinking of cheap hotels and partying, then this is your place, otherwise, I would avoid it.
The Costa del Azahar
Pros of the Costa del Azahar
The Costa del Azahar or Orange Blossom Coast runs from south of Valencia north into Castellon. This stretch of coastline is largely under-discovered by foreigners. The Spanish have been keeping this section of the coast under wraps for themselves. And not much wonder, as there are some amazing beaches along this coastline.
This line of coast has some longer, flattish beaches which are backed by orange groves and green valleys full of agriculture. This area is called the “lung of Spain” because of all the produce and vegetation.
Starting at Gandia, the most southerly resort which long stretches of sandy beach, the Azahar runs through Valencia and up the Mediterranean on the other side.
Valencia is a fabulous city, but I wouldn’t stop there for the beaches.
The next beach worth visiting along this coastline would be Canet d’En Berengure . This is a quiet, family-oriented resort town made up mostly of Spanish tourism. The beaches here are long, sandy and clean.
Moving along you will enter into the province of Castellon.
Benicassim is a resort town which hosts a famous music festival annually. Aside from the festival, Benicassim is known for its collection of striking 19th century mini-palaces. Along the beach walkway, you can take a stroll and tour these homes. Some are accessible to the public as they are now restaurants and hotels. Others can only be admired from a distance. Most of them have signs explaining who the original owners were and a little bit about the construction.
Peniscola is a striking town with a stunning castle jutting out onto a cliff overlooking the beaches. The castle was built in between 1294 and 1307. It has been used in many films including Cid el Campeador and more recently the Game of Thrones.
Cons of the Costa del Azahar
As you get away from Valencia the landscape starts to change and become drier and more arid. This doesn't affect the beaches at all, but the vistas aren't as spectacular as other areas of the Mediterranean coast.
Also, there are a number of towns and villages that I have not mentioned that, although have nice beaches, have only apartment buildings and industrial buildings. They are not your quaint or picturesque villages.
The Costa Brava
Costa Brava is the coastline from Barcelona along to the French border.
Pro's of the Costa Brava
This rugged coastline has stunning little coves and inlets to visit. The best way to see this coast is by boat. Every town has numerous options of boat company tours that go up and down the coast and take you to small private beaches that are otherwise inaccessible.
This past summer we stayed almost a week on the Costa Brava and only went on a boat twice. We had fun discovering a new beach each day. Some of the most stunning beaches are the most challenging to get to—you will need to practically scale cliffs in some instances. But they are so worth it. Anywhere that you see cars parked along the side of the road you can be sure there is a trail leading down to a beach.
For more information on the Costa Brava see my article: 4 towns to visit along the Costa Brava
Con's of the Costa Brava
The only con I can possibly think of is that if you are looking for long sandy beaches you won't find them in the Costa Brava. The coves are mostly small and have either chunky sand or small pebbles.
Costa de la Luz
If you have followed this blog for any time at all, you will know that in my opinion, the best beaches in all of Spain are along this stretch of the Atlantic coast.
Pro's of Costa de la Luz
The beaches of Costa de la Luz run along Huelva and into Cadiz. They are long, sandy almost continuous beaches. I have yet to go on one that wasn’t exceptional.
The beaches don’t vary much, only the towns. For upper-scale tourism head to Islantilla. If you are looking for a true Spanish vacation village, head to Mazagon or Matalascanas or Chiclana.
For more information on the beaches along the Atlantic coast, read my article: Where to find the best beaches in Spain
Con's of Costa de la Luz
I have very few con's to mention for the Costa de la Luz. If you are looking for vibrant tourist towns you may not like the Costa de la Luz as much as other places. If however, you like long sandy beaches uncrowded beaches you can't go wrong with the Costa de la Luz.
Beaches in the North:
The Basque country:
Pros of beaches in the Basque country
Anywhere from San Sebastian to just north of Bilbao you will find not only a wide selection of beaches to enjoy but also nature in its purest form.
This section of coast is all about appreciating nature. Some of the beaches are nestled within a national park and the best way to enjoy them is to take an all-day hiking trip along the cliffs which take you from one beach to the next.
If you are in Spain in the summer, these are the beaches to hit. The temperatures in the summer and warm but not oppressively hot like the rest of Spain.
Cons of the Basque country beaches
Northern Spain gets a bad rap for its beaches simply because the beach season is much shorter.
Asturias and Galicia:
Pros of the beaches in Asturias and Galicia
Asturias and Galicia each enjoy long coastlines.
Much of the Galician coastline is rugged with cliffs plunging into the ocean giving breathtaking vistas.
While at beach towns in the north you can take advantage of the scrumptious seafood dishes.
Cons of the beaches in Asturias and Galician
During many months of the year you might not be brave enough to dive in, but even going for the views is worth the trip.
The Islands of Spain:
Not only does Spain have beaches because it is a large peninsula, it also boasts numerous islands.
The Balearic Islands
Pros of the Balearic Islands
If you are looking for a plethora of beaches of all kinds and descriptions you will want to head to the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean sea.
Each of the islands is based on beach life and each has 100’s of beaches to discover. My favourite of the islands is Menorca as it is quieter, calmer and very concerned about the saving the incredible natural environment. But if you are looking for beaches, you won’t be disappointed on any of these islands.
Cons of the Balearic Islands
As Islands, the only way to get to them is by boat or to fly. This adds to the cost of the trip, but it is well worth it.
The Canary Islands
The Pro's of the Canary Islands
The temperature is more stable than the mainland, never too cold but not getting unbearable hot either.
The Canary Islands are the “go to” spot for sun worshippers as they promise sunny, warm days year round. These islands have been called the Carribean of Spain.
Con's of the Canary Islands
As the Canary Islands aren't on the mainland you can only get to them by flying, which makes it a slightly more expensive option.