Guide to Marinas on the Costa del Sol
| 6th Mar
With its 185-kilometre long Mediterranean shoreline, the Costa del Sol is not only a place of sandy beaches and rocky coves, but also of first-class marinas.
The marinas of the Costa del Sol stretch along almost its entire length, from Sotogrande in the west to La Herradura in the east. Each of the many yacht harbours in-between has a very distinct ambience and set of amenities that reflect its surroundings, giving this region a fantastic range of shopping, dining, entertainment and of course water sports experiences.
The most famous of all the marinas on the Costa del Sol, Puerto Banús is synonymous with glamour and wealth. Opened in 1970, it is the brainchild of Spanish property developer José Banús, but was designed by the architects Noldi Schreck and Marcos Saínz in the style of a Mediterranean village. The 915 berths for boats of eight to 50 metres cover a combined area of 15 hectares that is surrounded by restaurants, bars, boutiques, jewellers and designer outlets. From its star-studded launch through the ages to the present day, it is a place to spot celebrities and marvel at beautiful cars and boats, yet Puerto Banús is also a fully functional yacht harbour with good facilities and nearby beaches.
Another glamorous marina is Sotogrande, albeit in suitably charming and understated style. With 1382 berths for boats of eight to 50 metres, it also attracts grand floating palaces but is a little less flashy and more of a real sports marina than Puerto Banús. The surrounding restaurants, cafes, shops and boutiques exude the refined elegance of Sotogrande, making this the social hub of the luxurious resort. You will also find the charming Hotel Club Marítimo de Sotogrande here, a design-based boutique establishment with lots of atmosphere, as well as a very lively yacht club with top facilities and active programme of regattas and events.
Puerto de la Duquesa
Situated a little further to the east, between Estepona and Sotogrande, is the Puerto de la Duquesa of Manilva. It offers 328 berths for yachts of eight to 20 metres, and exudes a true Mediterranean summer holiday ambience. Duquesa is a fun port without the pretence of others, popular with owners of smaller yachts and sports sailing boats thanks also to its sandy beaches and good range of bars, cafes, shops, ice cream parlours and eateries that cover a wide range of cuisines from around the world. Particularly popular are the nearby fish restaurants and there is golf just across the road.
Between here and Marbella lays the marina of Estepona, which includes both a small fishing harbour with excellent beachside fish restaurants and a charming yacht harbour. Like Duquesa, it is a no-frills kind of marina, with excellent facilities favoured by true sailing and water sports enthusiasts flanked by affordable restaurants and bars. The Estepona marina is the centre of an attractive beachside residential area and just a few minutes from the town’s historic centre.
The downtown area of Marbella numbers no fewer than two marinas. La Bajadilla, on the eastside, is primarily a fishing port with a small yacht harbour attached and has a very appealing authenticity that has little to do with tourism. However, even the main marina flanked by Marbella’s sandy beaches and beachside Paseo Marítimo is a true sports marina dominated by small to medium-sized sailing boats and an array of fishing crafts and speedboats. It offers a good option of water sports including pleasure rides and a summertime water ferry between Marbella and Puerto Banús, not to mention a yacht club with attractive restaurant and a small entertainment area popular for its easy-going atmosphere and bars, cafes, and chill-out areas.
Perhaps the most picturesque of all the marinas to the found on the Costa del Sol is Cabopino, the quaint little yacht harbour that seems to occupy a secluded little corner of its own. In spite of summer crowds gathering at the large sandy beaches, seaside restaurants and even a nudist area nearby, Cabopino’s yacht harbour is intimate and charming, with an appealing array of restaurants, cafes and shops lining its quayside.
East of Marbella
There are more marinas to be found outside this main part of the Costa del Sol, starting with the large yacht harbours of Fuengirola and Benalmádena – the latter of which includes a large entertainment area – incorporating also the facilities for sailing boats and large floating palaces in Málaga itself, and concluding with the picture perfect Mediterranean style Marina del Este, in La Herradura. Here, amid deep blue waters, you’ll encounter one of the most delightful little yacht harbours in southern Spain, flanked by a ‘village’ with eateries and cafes. The natural setting is perhaps the finest of all, not only for sailing and boat excursions but above all for snorkelling and diving.