Costa Brava activity ideas

Sun, sand and sea… you get the picture. For many people it’s enough to lie on the beach all day, nose in a good book. Or maybe just snoozing under a parasol with the occasional dip in the water to cool off. 

Sant Pol beach at S’Agarò is sandy with a gentle shelf ideal for kids.

Some people can spend the entire fortnight of their holiday, or even longer, doing nothing but spending all day on the beach. But for others the novelty wears off after a few days and they want a little more action. There’s nothing wrong with spending time on the beach. After all swimming is fantastic exercise.

But if the thought of spending your entire holiday on the beach is too much to contemplate – or maybe you’re planning for any days when the weather decides it’s not a beach day – you’ll find a list of popular activities to do on the Costa Brava.

Top activities and where to do them

Scuba diving

The Costa Brava is renowned for the quality of its diving and is a great place to learn.

Best known is Estartit for the Medes islands but there are a number of dive centres based in L’Escala too. They offer boat dives to a variety of sites along this section of coast and to the Medes. Cap de Creus also has a number of fantastic dive sites, although there are far fewer dive centres.

These areas of coastline are all protected and in the Medes in particular the effect on the wildlife is astonishing. Here a number of giant groupers are so tame they often follow divers. It is completely forbidden to remove coral or anything else, a policy that has allowed significant regrowth. There are also a couple of decent wrecks to explore. One lies between Estartit and L’Escala and was sunk in the 1990s as an artificial reef. The other is about a mile off the coast near L’Escala and sank with a cargo of Italian marble. It’s around 40 metres down and so only suitable for experienced divers, but the boat is intact and a good dive.

Wind/Kite surfing

Near Sant Pere Pescador you’ll find a long sand beach in the Golf of Roses stretching from Sant Martí d’Empúries all the way up to Empuriabrava.

In the summer you’ll find it’s a mecca for wind and kite surfers, with an area specially designated for anyone practising their sport. It gets particularly busy during weekends, when the locals arrive from Barcelona and Girona, but things get more manageable at lunch time. The beach is so good for wind and kite surfing that both the World Windsurfing Championship and the World Junior Kiteboard Championship are held there.

Outside this particular area you’ll find windsurf schools/hire shops at most beach resorts if you want to give the sport a go. You’ll probably need a number of lessons though and it can work out better to book a weeklong course than book lessons individually.

Sailing

One of the best ways of experiencing some of the more out-of-the-way coves is to sail.

Today it is common to see small wooden boats rigged with traditional triangular lateen sails along the Costa Brava, although these tend to be owned by locals and unavailable for charter. Anyone interested in learning to sail will find classes available at towns with significant marinas. These include:

  • Llançà
  • Roses
  • Empuriabrava
  • L’Escala
  • Estartit
  • Palamós
  • Sant Feliu de Guíxols
  • Blanes

You don’t need a recreational boating licence if you’d like to charter a boat of less than 5 metres in length and up to 13 horsepower for motorboats. Sailing yachts are also available to charter at several of Costa Brava’s biggest marinas, with or without a skipper.

Other water-sports

Most resorts on the Costa Brava have shops where you can hire equipment or take a lesson in a variety of water-sports not already mentioned.

You can hire a kayak or go on an organised excursion along the coast. Or you might want to hire a jet ski, try water-skiing, go snorkelling or sit on an inflatable banana while being towed by a speedboat. Just check the area near the main beach of whatever town you’re staying in or the port area. If you’re staying at a hotel then they’ll be able to let you know where to go.

Golf

The Costa Brava may not be the first place you think of for playing golf, but the region boasts a total of courses including PGA Catalunya.

Ideally you’d fly direct to Girona, but Barcelona airport is a couple of hours away by car. You can buy a pass valid for a fortnight that entitles you to play either three or five rounds at one of the ten participating courses. That way you can combine a beach holiday with some golf.

Water parks

If the beach isn’t enough for your kids – or they’re tired of lounging by your hotel or villa’s pool – then you may be able to wear them out at one of the Costa Brava’s three water parks.

You’ll find Aquabrava just outside Roses, with Water World and Aquadiver at Lloret and Platja d’Aro respectively. The price is from around €30 per person, with a discount for kids under 120 cm. Children shorter than 80 cm can go in for free but they can’t go on on the rides. You can also get family tickets and larger discounts for groups of 25 or more booked in advance.

Skydiving

If you’ve got a head for heights you might want to try out your hand at skydiving.

Skydive Empuriabrava has been operating since 1985 and offers skydiving courses and tandem jumps as well as pilot training. Find out more about what they offer here.

Cycling

It’s easy to rent a bike to get around town and an easy way to get to the beach without having to park.

There are also a number of places popular for mountain biking, such as the dirt trails near Llagostera. The roads running between Llagostera and Caldes de Malavella and towards Girona are also popular in the spring when cyclists from across Europe don their Lycra and tour in groups, often with support vehicles.

Hiking

There are so many places you can hike it just isn’t true.

The coastal pathways are popular, although in many areas they are a little too gentrified from a few years ago. Other areas to set off on your own two legs are Cap de Creus natural park. Make sure you take enough water with you though. I learnt that the hard way.

Horse riding

Horse riding is popular on the beach between Sant Martí d’Empúries, but there are riding centres located inland too.

The area near Vidreres and Sils has a number of equestrian centres for anyone looking to ride during their holidays and lessons are available if you’d properly like to learn to ride.

Is there anything I missed off? Let me know via the contact form. And if you need any more specific information then just ask. I’ll do my best to answer you ASAP.