Decked out with chic beachfront clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants, upscale boutiques and a golden coastline, Marbella is one of the Costa del Sol’s hottest spots. While the coastal city makes for a great base for an Andalusian adventure, there are some fabulous other places along the coast well worth checking out. One of the best ways of navigating the sun-drenched region is by boat. Here’s our pick of some of the most manageable day trips to be had from Marbella…
Master the waters of Marbella.
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The largely residential area of Nueva Andalucia centres on Puerto Banus, where high-end yachts pack the marina and gleaming Ferraris purr along the roads. Set back from the harbour are several streets lined with cafes, bars, restaurants and chic clothing boutiques. You’ll also find some of Marbella’s best nightspots, including Seven and Funky Buddha, and a compact beach fringed by chiringuitos (small bars selling drinks and tapas). Sail and motorboats can refuel at a floating gas dock.
San Pedro de Alcántara
While moored in Puerto Banus, stroll along the coastal boardwalk for 25 minutes to one of the Costa del Sol’s most overlooked beaches. Situated 11km (7mi) west of Marbella, Playa de San Pedro de Alcantara serves as a blissful sunning spot, with an expansive beachfront, superb amenities and stylish chiringuitos with waterfront terraces. There’s also a generous amount of shade, courtesy of mature eucalyptus and palm trees.
Estepona provides a sharp contrast to the bling of Puerto Banus. Although just 20km (12mi) further west down the coast, it’s a quintessentially Andalusian town in which whitewashed townhouses are adorned with colourful flower pots and plants. Key sights include the Old Town’s main square (Plaza de las Flores), an orchid house with one of the largest collections in Europe and the spacious Playa de la Rada. Don’t miss creative contemporary tapas at La Bulla Gastrobar.
This coastal town is usually sought-out for its 8km (6mi) of beaches and lively nightlife but sunbathing and clubbing aren’t the only things to do in Fuengi (as the locals call it). Make your way to Plaza de la Constitución (four minutes on foot from the port), where you’ll find shaded terraces for a spot of rest and recuperation. Then visit the hilltop Sohail Castle, which dates back to the Moorish invasion of Spain, and the Bioparc Zoo, where the avant-garde architecture is just as attention-grabbing as the nature park’s exotic inhabitants.
Sail to Benalmádena to hang out with eagles and explore the ocean depths. In the marina itself, you’ll find the Sea Life Aquarium, where you come face-to-face with deep-sea creatures such as blacktip reef sharks, green turtles and seahorses. Once back on the surface, head to the cable car station and zip to the top of the 780m (2,560ft) Mount Calamorro, where you’re greeted by panoramic views of the Costa del Sol and inland mountains. You’ll also find the Jardin de las Aguilas (garden of the eagles) birds of prey centre, with the residents ranging from owls to eagles.
Torremolinos was at the vanguard of tourism development on the Costa del Sol in the 1950s and 60s and it is now firmly established as one of southern Spain’s most popular resorts. Situated just east of Benalmádena (and only a half-hour walk if you’re anchored there), it offers six separate beaches spread over 7km (4mi) of coastline, ranging from the busy Playa del Bajondillo in the town centre to the quieter Playa Los Alamos further north.
Playa de Cabopino
Dock in the Puerto de Cabopino to visit one of the most unspoilt beaches on the Costa del Sol. 14km (9mi) east of Marbella, the Playa de Cabopino stretches alongside a protected area of natural dunes peppered with sprouting juniper and sea narcissus. Keeping vigil over the sands is the 15m (49ft)-high Torre de Ladrones (Thieves’ Tower). Built in the 15th century, the distinctive column is still the tallest watchtower on Malaga’s coastline.
Playa de Calahonda
For an afternoon stroll rounded off with sunset sangrias, head east after dropping anchor in the Puerto de Cabopino. Situated on the opposite side of the harbour from Playa Cabopino, the sand-and-pebble, 4km (3mi)-long Calahonda beach is flanked by a boardwalk that runs to Mijas, providing ample opportunities to watch the sun disappear over the Mediterranean. Both Luna Beach Calahonda (Mijas end) and Cocoa Beach Marbella (port end) have ocean-view terraces.
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