The stunning Costa Brava stretches along Catalonia's northern coastline and is famous for its protected coves, beaches, and rich history. Its name means ‘rugged coast’ because of its winding rocky coastline and topography influenced by the Pyrenees Mountains. Numerous natural parks and marine reserves make flora and fauna is abundant in this area. The high potential for adventure means that this region is a destination that will appeal to the whole family. Whether you want to relax at the beach, try a new sport, or learn about Catalan culture, Costa Brava is a place for the young and young at heart. Here we’ve compiled some ideas of exceptional activities that will get the whole family involved!
Tide pooling is an easy and safe way to see marine life up close. If you’re at a rocky beach, take some time to adventure around the small pools of water left behind by the tide. Peer in these tiny windows into ocean ecosystems and you may find anemones, small fish, crabs, bivalves, sea urchins, seaweed and much more. Walk on the beach and look for little treasures such as shells, rocks or even sharks teeth! Make sure you observe, but please do not touch - some of these treasures are home to tiny creatures and are key to forming and mantaining the beach. If you find any trash, especially plastic, pick it up and put it in a trash or recycle bin. Let's keep Neptune happy!
Given the amount of amazing wildlife available in Costa Brava, you’ll want to get out into the ocean to take full advantage of it! Strap on some goggles and open your eyes to life underwater through snorkeling. In this part of the Mediterranean, seagrass meadows reign, meaning you can see vibrantly colored sea slugs, yellow tube sponges, sea turtles, and if you’re lucky seahorses. To go with an experienced guide that is familiar with the area and knows where to see the best marine critters, book a snorkel tour with a sustainable operator. You’ll get to board a boat and follow your professional guide to coves otherwise unreachable by simply swimming (snorkeling gear provided)!
*Tip: Some of the most incredible sights of the sea can only be experienced at night. Bioluminescent plankton and octopi are easier to spot after the sun goes down. To swim in the ocean at night, its best to go with a biologist who knows how to be safe in the dark. Discover the National Park of Cap de Creus through a night snorkel with a trusted operator here.
Catalonia is also one of the best places for diving in the Mediterranean because multiple marine reserves have been in place for years, such as the Medes Islands. This means there are lots of animals to see! Scuba diving will allow you to explore the deeper depths of the water column where unique animal life awaits such as corals, sea whips, groupers and even barracudas. To the south of Costa Brava, following Barcelona's coastline, Costa Daurada (the "golden coast") offers great opportunities for beginners. If your family is adventurous, try scuba diving for a day with an operator that specializes in working with children and first-time dive experiences.
*Tip: Who doesn’t love seahorses? Go on a guided seahorse dive with a family-operated shop and travel to “The Stables.” Learn more about this easy route, open to all levels, here.
If you’d like to stay above the water, kayaking is a fun and active way to spend the day. Kayaking in Costa Brava allows you to explore the rugged coastline, its hidden coves and small islands. It’s also easier to spot large marine animals. From your boat, look out for mola molas, or ocean sunfish, which are large bony fish that commonly swim near the surface. Also keep an eye open for seabirds and cetaceans like the bottlenose dolphin, striped dolphin, and fin whale. Try a special family eco-kayak excursion in Cap de Creus Natural Park where certified guides will take you on a swim in a remote cove and share a picnic of local produce.
*Tip: Combine kayaking with tapas and what do you get? The marine tapas experience by kayak! Discover hidden coves while learning about edible herbs, seaweeds, and plants. In this unique excursion a kayak instructor will teach you the basics of kayaking and a professional botanist will guide you through edible flora that you encounter on the way.
If you want to give your sea legs a rest, head towards the Museum of Catalan Coastal Cuisine which promotes the food heritage and gastronomy of towns on the Catalan coast. Here you can taste traditional Catalan dishes, visit a 16th century marine farmhouse, and learn about local maritime culture as well as book special food tours.
Make the most of your days off and gain a new perspective on the ocean. Marine activities are alwaves a great way to entertain the entire family, inspire respect for the sea, and enjoy your summer holidays together. Remember to look for responsible companies that support marine conservation so ocean activities will continue to be enjoyed by all in the future. Have a fun and safe vacation!