L’Estartit and the Ille de Medes - Roses -Santa Susanna

The use of the campsite at La Ballena Alegre 2 gave us the chance to visit L’Estartit and examine the watersports and sailing that are available. L’Estartit should be called Scuba Town because of the huge range of dive shops, instructors, dive boats and places to actually dive. The main draw for snorkelling and Scuba are the Medes Islands. A world famous nature reserve and bird sanctuary that rises from the sea a few thousand metres from the harbour mouth of L’Estartit.

The Estacio Nautica, the watersport centre, is a sparkling modern building right on the water`s edge. The facilities range from a library and lecture theatre to changing rooms and gear stores. The centre offers training and facilities for snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, water skiing and lots of other associated water based skills.
This was my first visit to L’Estartit and my imagined idea was that of a high rise type of resort jammed with package tourists eating chips and downing beer. I was way off the mark! L’Estartit did have a period of package tour operators using the resort but things have changed.
The small number of high rise hotels are mostly operating for the independant traveller or for spanish families looking for a seaside holiday. French tourists also make up a lot of the numbers here and their influence seems to be reflected in the food and ambience.
The town has a ban in place on any building higher than four stories and housing developement in the hills that overlook the town is also tightly controlled. It is on my list for a return visit!

Many hotels offer facilities for scuba divers in addition to the accommodation. Drying rooms and storage for gear is available and many offer transport to the dive boats moored in the modern L’Estartit marina. If you are not a diver or do not enjoy other watersports then the choice of things to do includes golf, tennis, walking, cycling and boat trips along the spectacular Montgri coastline. If this all sounds a little too much then just stretch out on the L’Estartit beach and enjoy the sun.

Roses - Sadly Roses was just a flying visit as we sped through to catch a boat which took us up the coast to a beach party. I did have time to see some fairly advanced freefall parachuting, Roses has a famous skysport school. The place is a a fairly large town with a big marina and a large commercial harbour. I think that it would merit a return trip to explore the place further.

Santa Susanna - this was yet another facet of Catalunia and when we arrived I was a little unsure about what we would find. Santa Susanna is between Blanes and Pineda de Mar and the town is bisected by the coastal railway. The accommodation is wide ranging and runs from private villas to campsites, with a range of hotels in between. Most of the tourist accommodation is made up of three star hotels and we stayed at the Hotel Florida Park. Rooms were good and mine had a great view of the hotel pool. The promenade has been extensively developed and is a smart affair with modern shops and cafes to the right of our hotel and a slightly brasher and down market section to the left, a town of four halves would be a good description.

The object of the visit was to meet with Jordi and Josep, the owners of the Estacio Nautica just outside the centre of the town. The watersport centre here is in its infancy and is just getting into its third year. Jordi and Josep have land allocated from the town for further development and for more parking but the current centre operates out of temporary accommodation.

The activities on offer are very good and include Jetski, Cat’ sailing, dinghy sailing, kite and windsurfing and sea kayaking. A good range of gear is available for hire and the centre offers some very useful discounts if you book through your hotel or campsite. As an example of the prices charged, a 10 hour training course in kitesurfing including all your equipment hire and one to one training is just 235€. You can bring your own kit and just pay a fee to use the safety area allocated for your activity. A 7 day ticket for windsurfing is just 45€. If you want to try some of the watersports for the first time the centre also offers a free activity taster session in kayaks!

We only had four days in the region and we covered a lot of ground. The feeling I am left with is that I regret never visiting the Costa Brava sooner, it is a fabulous region and it has so much to offer.

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