Spain is the fourth largest country in Europe and due to its extensive Mediterranean coastline and mild climate it offers the discerning tourist a wide variety of resorts that are guaranteed to please. There is something for everyone whatever their specific holiday requirements but sun worshippers and water sports enthusiasts alike are especially catered for. Due to the availability of cheap flights and holiday packages and an average of two to three hour’s flight duration from most northern European airports, Spain continues to be one of the most popular holiday destinations on the planet.
Apart from the Costa Verde (Green Coast) the Costa Vasca in northern Spain and the Costa Galicia in the north west, the most popular Spanish coastal resorts for sun seekers continue along the entire east coast of mainland Spain stretching from the French to the Portuguese border. Virtually any of these resorts will be ideal for beach-based holidays although some are more popular than others depending on proximity to the regional airport. Originally fishing communities, these areas now derive their main livelihood from tourism. The Spanish Costas (meaning coasts) often merge into one another in areas that are highly developed. Going from north to south here is a brief introduction:
Costa Brava (The Wild or Rugged Coast).
By flying to Girona airport in Catalonia, beach lovers can discover many sheltered coves idea for sunbathing and swimming which have largely maintained their original character throughout the decades of being a popular package holiday destination. However those who desire sandy beaches rather than pebbly ones may be disappointed. This is the coast nearest to southern France. The premier resorts of Lloret de Mar and Tossa del Mar are located here, offering great night life to the young and lively set as well as quality beach time during daylight hours. Medieval castles are typical of this region so there is plenty to discover for those in search of history and cultural enrichment.
Costa Dorada (The Golden Coast)
So named due to its golden sands it is located in Catalonia south of Barcelona; this area boasts beaches in abundance. Bustling Salou is the best known resort in this region and is ideal for all manner of water sports. Many travel here to visit Port Aventura – Spain’s premier theme park.
Costa del Azhar (Known as the Orange Blossom Coast because of the many fruit trees here).
This area incorporates the coastline between the River Ebro to Valencia and beyond. Low cost flights to Valencia have helped the region improve in the popularity stakes. Castellón de la Plana with its ancient walled town overlooking the sea is a photographers’ delight.
Costa Blanca (The White Coast)
Various resorts such as Benidorm and Torrevieja can be reached by arriving at Alicante airport. This region features a coastal highway that enables the visitor to experience much of the scenery from coach or car. There are also two large salt water lakes at Torrevieja which provide an alternative waterside area to the open sea.
Costa Calida (The Warm Coast)
In the region of Murcia there is also the unique area known as Mar Menor (the small sea). A sandy strip of land 22 km long known as La Manga creates a salty lagoon ideal for water based activities. This is a place of outstanding natural beauty. The Mar Menor is separated from the Mediterranean thus creating the largest natural pool on the planet. Many sports activities are centred on this region and horse riding and golf is also extremely popular.
Costa de Almeria
Accessible via Almeria airport (San Jose), there are vast expanses of underdeveloped beaches to please those who enjoy a quiet location. Roquetas de Mar is well known for its outdoor sports centres and popular resorts such as Mojacar offers the tourist no end of coves to visit for a memorable beach holiday. Nature reserves and sand dunes are also a distinct feature of this particular coastal region.
See the snow capped mountains of Granada from this coast which is of certain appeal to those tourists who dislike high rise resorts. Arriving at Granada Airport you will be able to appreciate the spectacular mountain scenery. This coast offers a mild climate and a Moorish feel. A trip to this region will be incomplete without a visit to the Alhambra. There is something here for beach lovers of all descriptions even nudists and scuba divers.
Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun)
Reached via Malaga airport in Andalucía, Southern Spain, the Costa del Sol remains a firm holiday favourite. Having many long flat promenades it is the ideal location for anyone with mobility problems. Largely built up and purpose built for the tourist trade it remains popular with Brits who cannot bear a week or two without a hearty meal of fish and chips. This area is a virtual ‘Home from home’ but with none of the incessant rain back in the UK. There are a plethora of fashionable marinas such as those at Benalmadena and Puerto Banus where you can sip sangria and nibble tapas to your heart’s content as you mix with the nautical set and admire their splendid yachts.
Costa de la Luz (The Coast of the Light).
Served by the airports at Seville and Jerez de Frontera the Costa del Luz is so named because of the way the sunlight reflects upon the sea. This coast lies beyond the Straits of Gibraltar which marks the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea and therefore has an Atlantic rather than Mediterranean seaboard. It can be extremely windy and is thus popular with windsurfers. It is the most western Spanish coast and the nearest to Portugal. Here you will find the most underdeveloped beaches in remote parts relatively untouched by tourism on a grand scale. Tarifa, a Moorish walled town is one of the main areas of the Costa del Luz and enjoys a unique African atmosphere; indeed North Africa is only a short 35 minute trip away by ferry. From Tarifa you can take an enjoyable day trip to Morocco and return with souvenirs such as leather goods and jewellery cheaper than those found in Spain.
In order to find out which is the appropriate airport for the Spanish Costa that appeals to you the most, then visit:
Although all the main Costas are geared up for tourism the traditional Spain is never far away and a short journey by road will allow the visitor to discover many quaint hilltop villages that offer a pleasant change from a day on the beach.
The mainland aside, there are also fifteen Spanish Islands which consist of two chains; The Canaries in the Atlantic and The Balearics in the Mediterranean. Both groups of islands offer top class resorts. The Balearics are the closest to mainland Europe and are located not far from the mainland coast at Barcelona.
The delights of the Atlantic chain can easily be experienced with a flight taking no longer than four hours from all UK airports. The Canaries hold year round appeal due to their temperate climate and favourable location off the coast of West Africa which sets them quite apart from other European destinations. At any time of year you can escape to The Canary Isles in search of sun and beach destinations and not be disappointed, whereas the other Spanish islands and mainland can only offer the usual May to October holiday season to those wanting quality time on the beach.
The main resorts of the Spanish Islands offer everything possible to the visitor in search of sun and sea. Fuerteventura has its wonderful surf and vast expanses of natural scenery in the form of sand dunes, extinct volcanoes and a fabulous man made horseshoe shaped beach at Caleta de Fueste. It is also host to the annual worldwide windsurfing championships. Lanzarote has active volcanoes and a landscape found nowhere else on Earth whereas Tenerife boasts the beautiful snow- capped Mount Teide which is the highest mountain in Spain. If you are in search of leisurely boat trips to discover delightful coastlines and rocky inlets then look no further than the east coast of Majorca. For a truly peaceful away from it all break then the tiny island of Menorca is ideal.
The Spanish resorts are all unique in their own way and offer a wide range of activities that you would expect from any reputable resort. There is unlimited choice whichever resort you pick and it will be easy for the first time visitor to Spain to realise why many people decide not only to holiday here but also to buy a Spanish property as a second or permanent home. For some further Spanish travel ideas why not visit a reputable tour operator such as Thomson who will help you find the best holiday destination on the Spanish coast?