Possible one of the most beautiful places you will see in your life, the Costa Brava is hard to escape – it will bring you back and back time and time again, it will invite you for one more adventure, one more cove, one more beach it will say, one more trek over just one more headland. But in the Costa Brava you cannot have just one more cove, bay, headland – no, no, no – you must have it all, you must explore every cave, you must dive to the deepest chasm in the most dangerous rocky outcrop, and you must try for more and more difficult coves down steeper and steeper cliff faces. Of course, no human being could possibly explore the entire Costa Brava – every hidden hole and jagged peninsula– not even in a whole lifetime. There have, I suppose, been mad and noble fools who have tried; and there are, I know, people who are lucky enough to live there; but even they, I presume, would still uncover new secrets of the Costa, and even they, I don’t doubt, would never tire of the still and fresh Mediterranean waters at their doorstep.
Yes, the Costa Brava is addictive. You will not be able to leave its crystal waters, or at least, you will not leave willingly. You will not say ‘well now I’ve seen the Costa Brava’ and probably you will not rather live anywhere else in the world but there. Yes, it really is that beautiful.
If your first hit of the Costa is the town of Blanes you will be tempted for more. Blanes – the Gateway to the Costa Brava as it’s known – is not as touristy as some of its northern neighbours, and you will find there a beautiful boardwalk down which the people amble along past the restaurants on toward the rocky outcrop that marks the beginning of the Costa Brava proper, demarcating the long sandy beaches to its south from the rocky coves to come. On this outcrop you will see the old castle which stands above the north-side of the city, and if you get beyond that old fortress you will find a million little coves that dot the coast all the way along to France, and if you were to walk and walk for days and days you’d eventually find your way to Tossa de Mar, which for its unique beauty has been gifted the poisoned chalice of mass tourism with its trillion trinket tiendas where the pink arms and faces of the tourists exchange cash and smiles with the bronzed locals. But if you can resist the smells billowing from the seafood restaurants and climb up into the old town you will be rewarded with a spectacular view from Tossa’s ancient walls over the millennium-old streets below toward the north where the pristine waters which you came for are warming in the mid-morning sun, warming but still fresher than a gin and tonic, clearer than a vodka lime and more intoxicating than the two taken as doubles one after the other.
If you want to really get dizzy then head further north toward Palamós, where you’ll be more isolated and where you’ll have even more options for swimming and sunning. With or without clothes, with or without company, you’ll have reached the brava Brava, the wild Wild. But you might be told there that there are yet more beaches waiting for you to the north around Cadaquéz, where, they tell me, “there is beauty everywhere you look!”, and if you are told that then god help you, because by then you will have caught the crystalline addiction. Yes, the Costa Brava is so beautiful, so dizzyingly beautiful that when you return home and climb into bed you will feel your head still floating around as if you were back lying in those still waters where the only noise is your breath and the only sight the sun.