Culture Chic: Sunny Spain’s Costa del Sol
The beautiful and historic stretch of coast along southern Spain, reaching to the tip of Tarifa, makes one gorgeous private luxury yacht charter itinerary. Along the Costa del Sol, ancient cultures mix with chic, contemporary parties, stylish resorts, and interesting history, to make this a week you’ll wish could write across your entire summer calendar. Although only 7 days, The Costa del Sol itinerary beautifully captures the yacht lifestyle while suggesting some fabulous highlights.
Day 1: Ocean Village Marina, on the Point of Gibraltar, is the perfect launch for this yachting excursion. Get settled on the yacht while gazing across the Straits to the coast of North Africa, and take a stroll around the marina’s shops and restaurants for any last minute essentials.
Days 2 and 3: Hug the coast as you head north to Marbella, where culture, shopping, and beaches all combine to make a superb destination. Dock at the posh Puerto Banus marina. Shop for a mix of local, handcrafted goods and big fashion names like Gucci, Dior, Carolina Herrera, and Spain’s famous Custo Barcelona. Then plan for a scrumptious dinner with Dani Garcia. Think you have seen tableside magic before? High tech and ancient recipes mix here with an exceptional, two-starred Michelin chef to create magnificent works of culinary art. Reservations are suggested to avoid disappointment. Night brings beach bars alive, as well as nightclubs and casinos, so pack a few stunning pieces for a night on the town. If polo is a passion, make sure you plan to attend the Santa Maria Polo Club. One of the world’s best, there are fabulous VIP facilities, as well as wonderful restaurants and bars nearby, amid world-class sporting events.
Day 4: If you’ve decided to remain snug in the harbor at Puerto Banus yet one more day, it is perfectly understandable. There’s much to see and do. If you’d like to move on, an extraordinary experience awaits in Malaga, with stops in Fuengirola, Benalmadena, and Torremolenos. An historic town with castles and Moorish fortresses, Fuengirola is a cultural hub. It is also heavily touristed in season, so cruising on to Benalmadena’s superb little gastronomic gem, Sollo might take precedence. Tucked away in the old pueblo, there are only a few precious tables, definitely worth the effort for gourmet palates. Then, sip a sample of some of the region’s best wines at Vinoteca los Sentidos. A friendly, fabulous bar, with to-die-for tapas, this tiny Avenue de las Palmas vinoteca is another memorable place. On to Malaga, especially if you’re visiting in August for the Feria de Malaga celebrations, bullfights, and sunset festivals at the Real, or in spring for the Film Festival and Holy Week events. Home to both artist Pablo Picasso and film star Antonio Banderas, the city regularly hosts celebrities, and has since its early beginnings in 770 BC, thanks to the Phoenicians. One of the world’s oldest cities, the culture is deep, but so is entertainment.
Day 5: While much of the Costa del Sol has been discovered, Estepona continues to exhibit the charm of Andalusia. Narrow cobblestone streets, quaint bodegas, bars, shops, lush flowers, and a fishing village feel make the city a pleasant respite with every modern convenience. Pretty, blue-flag beaches, bars, and authentic culinary experiences are abundant, and medieval structures beckon for you to explore.
Day 6: At the southernmost point of Spain, the ancient town of Tarifa welcomes all to one of the most interesting destinations in the Mediterranean. From the steps of Tarifa’s impressive castles, the view of the North African coastline, just 14 km away, is breathtaking. Surfers make the most of the waves, along with kites and windsurfers, while many watch for dolphins, or simply drink in this luscious ocean environment. The town’s Islamic origins are strong, and the market simply wonderful. If your visit coincides, the events surrounding the Cordoba African Film Festival should be on your agenda, as well as the bird migration in fall and spring.
Day 7: As you head back to Gibraltar, cruise along the coast of El Estrecho Natural Park, past the three beautiful, natural, coves at Cala Arenas, Cala del Paral, and Cala Fuerte, along the uninhabited coastline. Then return to the marina at Ocean Village. If you’re just not prepared to give up your yacht, consider adding on another week to explore the North African coastline, or with foresight, add a few days mid-trip to visit Ibiza. Tunisia’s souks, mosques, and Carthaginian ruins, plus the 5-star marina and resort at Yasmine Hammamet, sound quite tempting, but so do the season’s opening and closing events on the party island, Ibiza.