The 5 Most Beautiful Beaches on the Costa Brava’s Baix Empordà
What are the best places for beaches in Costa Brava? Join us on a journey to discover some of the most beautiful beaches along Costa Brava.
Text and photos by Emily Murphy
The Costa Brava (the wild coast in Spanish) is a beach-lovers haven for it’s idyllic position resting on the picturesque Catalan coastline of the Mediterranean, stretching down from the French border to Blanes—about 60 km north of Barcelona. Though you can find hundreds of beaches tucked between jade-coloured hillsides and natural rock formations, not one is the same: varying in textures of sand, transparency of water, and size of the cove. They are all worth exploring, but if you are not sure where to spend your next vacation consider this selection of local favourites in the Baix Empordà region, each carrying ubiquitous beauty and captivating backdrops.
At the foot of rolling hillsides tucked between charming pastel coloured houses lies the secluded and sought-after Sa Tuna beach. Made up of vibrant and clear turquoise water with pebbled sand, it is no wonder people from all over Catalunya flock to this petite oasis to rub shoulders. Getting a spot on the shore is unequivocally difficult during peak season—spanning from July through August—but if you get there early enough you might be able to snag a sheer plot of land. Visit in the off-season and Sa Tuna is a mellow paradise speckled with locals, and very few tourists who relish in the slower pace. When the sun and sea have worked up your appetite, stroll up to the beachfront restaurant, Nou Hostal Sa Tuna, for an authentic dinar (Catalan for lunch) and a refreshing Estrella.
Lush evergreen trees crawl right up to small white buildings that hug the coast, made up of gold pebbly sand and sparkling blue water. There is an extensive amount of towel room here compared to nearby beaches, providing a higher chance of staking a seat—but don’t expect that if you arrive past noon. There’s also no shortage of dining options at Tamariu beach, making it an ideal location for food enthusiasts and hungry travelers. A local favorite you must try is Restaurant Es Dofí, sitting perched above the seafront and serving fresh seafood daily. Near this joint on the same side of la platja (Catalan for the beach) a pathway curves around the rocks, past the small jetty, leading to a concealed cove known as Cala Aiguadolça. Gaze out beyond the buoys and you can find a gamut of boats anchored, some containing working fishermen and others consisting of vacationers who are there to frolic and play.
Translated from Catalan, this beach literally means “blue water” and rightfully so. As soon as you start down the hill leading to the shoreline the unmissable aquamarine translucence grabs your gaze and invites you to jump right in. Aiguablava is also the quintessential snorkel spot since it’s renowned for having crystal clear water and is home to a variety of fish, though easier to spot on quiet days and off-season. Take up a spot on the left side of the beach since the towering trees cast a shadow over the right when the sun begins its descent, unless you prefer to be out of its powerful rays. Note that only a few restaurants offer food here, a couple being on the pricier side and considered to be “Barcelona cool”. As for the other, it is more casual and has actually been around since the mid-70s. It’s advisable to bring lunch, however, during the busier months when it’s packed to the gills and there’s likely a wait at these spots.
Two words: Mediterranean posh. This Catalan beach is loved for its golden sand and upmarket hospitality spanning from Michelin star restaurants, to chic clothing stores, and boutique hotels. Steep emerald hills speckled with dazzling houses can be seen from the shoreline, and even further in the distance you can spot the famous lighthouse, Far de Sant Sebastià. For some, Llafranc is a place to be seen. For others, it is a place to rest and recharge in nature’s beauty. Due to the rocks on the right hand side of the beach, it is also an optimal place for snorkeling and exploring marine life. On the left hand side you can expect to find Club Nautic de Llafranc and harbour, with exquisite sailing boats, high-speed motor boats, and swanky yachts. If you’re enticed to navigate the high seas, you can rent a motor boat for the day (though a boat licence is necessary) or take part in a sailing boat outing, with skipper! Word of advice: come in June or September. It is the perfect time to revel in the water and dine at noteworthy restaurants, since most of the crowds have washed away.
CALELLA DE PALAFRUGELL
Awarded one of the best beaches on the Costa Brava year after year, it’s no wonder this is both a local and tourist favorite. The sheer size offers plenty of space for beachgoers as it curves around a windy stretch of coastline, providing a few different coves to set up camp. Along the soft sand you will find old boating houses— built into the wall which runs along the rear of the beach—most of which have been transformed into nautical holiday bungalows. Just a stone’s throw away from this bustling beach location you will discover the seaside town inhabited by a spectrum of restaurants. Be weary, however, since many on the front line of the beach are often overpriced tourist traps. Wander back behind there, though, and you will find some gems serving up fresh seafood and arròs a la marinera, the Catalan equivalent to Paella that will be worth your while. Should you need anything else, there are a number of gelato stores, quaint cafes, and beach shops, winding their way through the back streets.