CostaBravaTouristGuide.com — The Costa Brava has a plethora of beaches. They come in all sizes ranging from kilometers-long, tourist-filled stretches of sand to hard-to-reach, virtually ‘private’ beaches nestled in small coves.
The type of sand may differ from resort to resort, and sometimes from beach to beach. Many Costa Brava beaches have fine sand, while just as many have course sand. The color may vary between grey and golden.
A number of beaches have coarse pebbles instead of sand. Usually it is fine enough to walk and lay on, but generally it is not suitable for the building of sand castles — something to keep in mind if you are bringing young children.
Most of the beaches — certainly the ones that cater to tourists — have plenty of facilities, including toilets, access for those who are disabled, lifeguards (during the main seasons), on-beach open showers, and first-aid stations.
In many places kiosks are set up along the boulevards, and some beaches have their own on-beach bars and restaurants.
Topless and/or Nude sunbathing and swimming
There are no laws against public nudity in Spain, but some beach resorts along the Costa Brava and elsewhere have adopted ordinances meant to combat boorish behavior1 on the part of certain types of tourists.2
In other words: there’s a time and a place for everything, and if you are not mature enough to know that — and act accordingly — you may find the concept explained to you by Spanish police, who will enforce the lesson with a steep fine.
That said, topless bathing is common at all beaches and — to the even greater shock of (usually) prudish Americans — it is not unusual to see people enjoying the sun, sea and sand completely in the nude.
As a general rule of thumb: the more people there are on a beach, the less nudity you will encounter. Even then, since the Spanish have a relaxed attitude toward nudity it is quite common to see people of all ages change in and out of their bikinis or bathing suits in full view.
If you think you cannot handle nudity, a vacation at the Costa Brava is probably not a good idea for you.
Many of the large tourist beaches all but disappear during the winter, when storms take away the sand. The beaches are rebuilt in time for the tourist season. More often than not that explains why the type and color of sand can be so different from one beach to the next.
Recreated beaches generally drop off rather quickly. You can wade into the water for a few feet before the water suddenly gets deeper. This makes those beaches less ideal for young children to play in the water.
On the other hand, with the exception of stormy weather you will seldom see large waves at the Costa Brava.
Swimmers should keep in mind that even at short distances from the beach the depth of the sea bottom can vary wildly. This can affect the temperature of the water.
In recent years the Spanish costas, like beaches along the entire Mediterranean Sea, have seen a sharp increase in the number of jellyfish. Several varieties of jellyfish may be encountered at any time. When large schools have been spotted, jellyfish alert flags will be hoisted along the beach.
In case you don’t speak Spanish… Keep an ear out for the word medusa (jellyfish), or use the term yourself to warn others.
Regularly scheduled tour boats sail from resort to resort. Trips are not cheap, but the rides are well worth it. Upon embarking the boat keep in mind which way it will sail — and then try to secure a seat on the side facing the land. Otherwise your photos will include lots of more-or-less tanned heads.
- Including, but not limited to, activities that normally take place only in the bedroom ↩
- In July 2010, the Catalonia beach resort of Salou, on the Costa Daurada (about 90 kilometers south of Barcelona) banned people from wearing beachwear except for at the beach and at beachfront bars and restaurants. Anywhere else in town shirtless and bikini-clad tourists will face a fine of £ 250. ↩