One of the great selling points to living in Barcelona is the Costa Brava and it’s many beaches, coves and quaint little towns that dot the coastline heading north of town towards France. The ease of accessibility makes it the perfect long weekend getaway destination or the ideal way to relax and decompress after a hectic week of sightseeing and nightlife on a visit to Barcelona.
Being easily prone to car sickness, the only thing holding me back from heading up to the Costa Brava on a monthly basis are the windy hillside roads that you encounter along the coast. So with that in mind, I’ve come up with a much better solution, boating or yachting if your budget is right.
The most fabulous way to experience the Costa Brava is via a yacht, departing from the Port Vell of Barcelona or just north of town in Marina Mas Nou, via Charter & Dreams. They have fantastic array of sailing and motorized boats to meet any style or size demand. My two preferences are the sleek, motorized Abacus Marine 61, ideal for a more intimate voyage, sleeping 6 comfortably or the Sunreef 62, a motorized catamaran, so you have the option of sail or motor and the space to entertain a party of 35 during the day.
Instant luxury begins the moment you step onto the chartered vessel, as the captain and crew offer you and your fellow travelers a welcome drink and you relax and let them do the work. Every detail, from the top quality bedding and linens to the finishing in the kitchen and bathrooms, its like your private five diamond hotel, but better, as you’re surrounded by the clear blue water of the Mediterranean.
As you head north along the coast, you’ll be dazzled by the many small beaches and coves, some more undiscovered than others, that fall in between the rocky and pine filled cliffs. The best way to enjoy these is by leisurely anchoring to take a swim or snorkel in each place. A few not to miss coves are the stark contrasting smooth, tan rock facades of Peix, in the vicinity of Sant Feliu de Guixols, as well as the small, crescent shaped beach of Cap Roig and the crystal clear
and calmwaters of Cala Estreta both near Calella de Palafrugell. Also, keep an open mind while visiting these beaches, as you’ll find that Nudism is practiced in most places throughout the region, so why not give it a try! You only live once, and who knows, you may find it liberating, as I have.
The towns of Costa Brava are equally as charming and a quintessential part of this yachting voyage. Anchor at both Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc nearby and take a dinghy in to the shore to explore on foot the culture of these picturesque villages. Afterwards, a must for dinner at sunset, Restaurante Hostal La Llagosta, where you’ll have the most phenomenal fresh seafood, seafood paella or their house specialty, traditional Catalan fish suquet. Be sure to stay and linger well past sunset as the beachside location and views are fantastic!
Continuing up the coast another day, is Cadaques, the gem of the Costa Brava and my absolute favorite town in this land. Of course famed for Salvador Dali choosing to take up residence in this impeccable white village with narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll instantly be in love with this town. Do allow most of your day to explore around Cadaques on foot, as you’ll find fantastic little boutiques and art galleries around every corner of the winding cobblestoned streets.
This is also a place where cuisine is not taken lightly, with a fantastic array of restaurants of any international variety, yet all casual chic. Try a special wine pairing lunch at the new enology concept restaurant Dalicia Cadaques, and dinner at the chic, rustic garden setting of Compartir, where you’ll be marveled by the tastes of El Bulli trained chef, Eduard Xatruch and his infusing of traditional Spanish dishes with molecular gastronomy surprises.
Before heading back to the yacht, stop off at Bar Tropical, a tiny hole in the wall bar that serves up great mojitos and with the music and ambience, you’ll feel like you’ve just been transported to the Caribbean. When you’re properly tired from your day of exploring, jump back onto the dinghy and arrive at your floating hotel anchored in the bay. Grab a drink and head out on the deck to take in the most spectacular view of this yacht journey, the stars and moonlight reflecting off the white buildings of the hilly town and then glistening on the Bay of Cadaques. It’s truly a dream!
You’ll need at least 3 days to make it up to the lighthouse at Cap de Creus National Park at the northeastern most tip of Spain, due to enjoying the pace of the journey and the stops along the way. Once arriving at Cap de Creus, allow for a few hours of hiking and checking out the gorgeous views as far as the eye can see. The lighthouse also boasts a great tavern style restaurant ideal for lunch.
When starting your descent down the coast that evening, anchor again in Cadaques, nearby and try dinner at my favorite Lebanese restaurant in Spain, El Barroco. Housed in a building designed by Dali, this eclectic structure is as much a museum of the antique collections of the owner, Samy, as it is a landmark architectural structure in town. The mezze and lamb tagine are excellent, and the highlight of the evening is surely a piano serenade by Samy himself.
If at this point, if you haven’t decided to leave your hectic lifestyle behind to live on a boat off of the Costa Brava, well, you’re probably thinking it’s about time to return to the real world or at least sleep on a bed with four legs. Take your time returning down the coast and stopping off at any unique coves that you encountered along the way up, or repeating visits to any of the towns that you might have fallen in love with. This yacht trip will truly be a magical journey!