Sport and leisure in Marbella

Water sports around Marbella

As a coastal town Marbella, of course, offers a wide range of leisure activities centred around the theme ‚water‘, and the „Embalse de la Concepción“ reservoir, around 10 kms away near Istán, is also a water sports venue. Most visitors, however, are drawn to the beautiful and usually very well-kept beaches for sunbathing and swimming, with no less than 26 listed within the boundaries of the town. Due to the relatively steep coastal mountains a little further inland grey sand dominates on the beaches of the Costa del Sol but in some areas small dune landscapes have formed, the best known being the beach of „Las Dunas“, located midway between Marbella and Cabo Fuengirola.

Illuminated harbour of Marbella

Illuminated harbour of Marbella

In the inner city area the charmingly laid out „Playa de Venus“ beach invites passers-by to relax after a stroll through the town, and the longer and more natural „Playa de la Fontanilla“ follows the promenade „Paseo Marítimo“ towards Puerto Banús. Along the promenade different types of restaurants are randomly arranged alongside mostly very noble hotels and villas. Fortunately the law in Spain declares that a 20 metre-wide strip of coastline must be accessible to the public, and even luxurious hotels such as the famous „Marbella Club“ are not allowed to block their beach section to non-hotel guests.
Those who would rather be active have, of course, the possibility to take courses or rent the necessary equipment from the various tour organizers. With windsurfing for example, although Tarifa on the Atlantic coast offers the best surfing in Andalusia there are also possibilities to surf in Marbella. The operator „Windsurf Marbella“ (www.windsurfmarbella.com) on Playa del Rio Real on the eastern edge of town offers courses for 35 € per hour, and for about 40 € a board can be rented for 2 hours. But also the spectacular sport of kitesurfing and the less familiar paddle-surfing are taught and practiced here.
An increasingly popular sport which originates from Polynesia is standup-paddling, which entails standing on a board with the help of a long paddle. This sport is taught at the Sportclub „Team4you“ (www.team4you.es) on the sea, or on the lake „Embalse de la Concepción“, where 2 – 3 hour kayak trips are also offered for around 60 €. A new kind of water sport is „aquaskipping“, jokingly called the „muscle-powered hydrofoil“ – which is similar to a bicycle gliding over the water. The same team also offers the opportunity, after short instructions, to drive a jet ski over the Mediterranean for 1 hour.

Wave-riding on the beach

Wave-riding on the beach

For those who are more at home with horsepower than using their own strength, the operator „Jetboat“ (www.jetboat.es) will surely be better suited. The very powerful high-speed boat rides the Mediterranean waves at over 40 knots and costs around 40€ for an exhilerating 20 minutes. A similar excursion is offered by „Speed ​​Boat Trips“ (www.speedboattrips.com), where the ride can be combined with observing dolphins. The experience is, however, more intense when being pulled behind a speedboat on water skis or a wakeboard. This is offered, for example, by „Splash Watersports (www.splashwatersports.com).
Also in the repertoire of popular rides with like-minded people is on the inflated „banana“ which, depending on the type of ride, costs from 20 – 50 € per hour. At around 70 € for a half-day, renting a yacht is not as expensive as one would expect, and „Marbella Yacht Charters“ (www.marbellayachtcharters.com) make it possible to be a captain even for people with normal incomes.
Sailing boats can also be rented, but here up to 100 € per hour must be reckoned with. The company „Alboran Sails“ (www.alboransails.com) offer this service, and are named after the area with the name „Mar de Alborán“, little-known outside Spain, which is the sea area between Andalusia and Morocco.

Sporty excursions inland

Those want to get to know the Andalusian countryside off the beaten track will find a wide range of offers from operators such as „Jeep Safari“ (www.jeepsafari.com) or „Monte Aventura Ecotours“ (www.monteaventura.com). „Jeep Safari“ combines a trip to the „Sierra de las Nieves“ („Snow Mountains“), located to the north of Marbella, with a visit to the typical „White Villages“ of Andalusia and an olive oil mill. Monte Aventura trips include an excursion on unusual paths to the small but charming town of Ronda or to the „Schlumpf village“ of Juzcar which was painted completely blue for the making of the film. Day trips with a Jeep cost around 75 €.
There is even a trip to Ronda by kart offered by „Kart4Fun“ (www.kart4fun). This very intensive way of getting around also combines the fun together with a small educational programme. The buggy tours along gravel roads and dirt tracks should definitely be regarded as a purely for fun, and operators like „Marbella Buggies“ (www.marbellabuggys.com) or „Buggy Safari Marbella“ (www.buggysafarimarbella.com) charge around 100 € for a 2 hour trip.
Motorcycle enthusiasts who are missing their hobby whilst on holiday can hire an Enduro from, for example, the „Dust Devils“ (www.dustdevils.net) for about 150 € and check out the off-road routes around Marbella. The same thing is possible, of course, without a motor as a mountain bike tour, and here again the „Team4you“ is competent. This operator also offers more extreme tours for adrenaline junkies like, for example, „canyoning“ – abseiling down waterfalls, or „Via Ferrata“ – climbing across canyons on steel cables arranged like a hanging bridge.

Lange Sandstrände in Andalusien

Long sandy beaches in Andalusia

Hiking in the countryside

Marbella’s 1,215 metre-high local mountain „La Concha“ („the shell“) is not only impressive to look at, but also to climb. Tour operators such as „Team4you“ make the ascent possible combined with a guided hiking tour, not a bad idea considering the very poor path markings.

Only since relatively recently has it been allowed to walk along the famous „Caminito del Rey“ (Kings little pathway) near Àlora, about 45 minutes by car north of Marbella, at one time considered to be ‚Europe’s most dangerous hiking trail‘. At considerable cost the once-dilapidated climbing route along the breathtaking „Garganta del Chorro“ gorge of the Rio Guadalhorce has been repaired, and since April 2016 has been open to hikers with a head for heights for an entry fee of 10 €. The number of visitors allowed per day is very limited, so a time window should be reserved in advance on the Internet at www.caminitodelrey.com – the return route from the village of El Chorro to the starting point at the reservoir Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce is by shuttle bus. But even without the – in the meantime non-risk – canyon adventure this nature reserve, called simply „Ardales – Park“, is well woth a visit. Its reservoirs, are embedded in fragrant pine forests and bizarre rock formations characterize this relatively unknown „pearl“ in the hinterland of Andalucia, and short hikes without a guide are also not a problem there.
A real paradise for hikers is the Sierra de Grazalema to the west of Ronda which reaches a height of 1654 meters, only one hour’s drive away from Marbella so an easy day trip. The transformation from lovely, lush green meadows to sparse forests and rugged, dazzling light grey limestone rocks account for the special charm of this mountain range. Nowadays most of the hiking trails, for example the approx. 3-hour walk around the 1307 metre-high „Peñon Grande“, the local mountain of the central town of Grazalema, are well signposted and easily walkable.
Exceptional is the hike through the so-called „Hedgehog-pine forest“ („El Pinsapar“) on the north-west slope of the „Sierra del Pinar“. On the one hand is a tree species from the Tertiary period which is already extinct everywhere else, and on the other are outstanding panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from a height of 1300 metres. Unfortunately, this tour is only possible after official approval or together with an authorized guide – further information can be obtained from the Tourist Information.

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