With favourable weather conditions almost guaranteed during the summer months, watersports continue to attract novices and enthusiasts from near and afar to the region.
No matter the level, there are facilities to cater for everyone across the more than 160 kilometres of coastline between Sotogrande and Nerja in which there are eleven marinas with over 4,000 berths and several clubs and schools with a comprehensive range of courses.
In Marbella there are four marinas: Puerto Banús, Puerto Deportivo de Marbella, Cabopino and Puerto Deportivo Marina. The coastal towns of Manilva, Estepona, Fuengirola, Benalmádena and Vélez are also proud of their marinas and in Malaga you will find the Puerto Deportivo el Candado and the Real Club Mediterráneo de Málaga.
Learning to sail
If you are keen to learn sailing this summer, there are a number of locations at which you can learn the basics. Club Náutico Benalmádena offers a beginner’s course over five days with three hours of lessons a day. The course includes basic manoeuvres like tacking and jibbing, heaving to and berthing as well as learning about knots, navigation and avoidance rules, meteorology and more. After a two-week course, you should have achieved the knowledge needed to sail independently.
There are many charter companies on the coast which offer sailing courses for all needs, from introductory courses to sailing certificate courses, and even prepare for the examinations for the yacht captain’s license. Anyone who has acquired the appropriate certificates can also rent sailboats from the charter company, whether for a short Sunday outing or for longer trips.
Modern sailing clubs and associated schools are not just offering traditional sports like rowing and sailing but many other disciplines like stand-up paddle, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, water-skiing and many more. As in Benalmádena, the courses are given either in Spanish or English.
A sport growing in popularity
One watersport that has undoubtedly evolved in recent years along the Andalusian coastline is kitesurfing, with an increase in kitesurfing schools and International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) instructors on the Costa del Sol, especially in the last five years.
Tarifa on the Atlantic coast, however, has been Europe’s ‘El Dorado’ for surfers for decades now. At the beginning it was just for windsurfers, but in the last 20 years kitesurfing has become popular too.
However, the Costa del Sol offers several kitesurf spots that can compete with the conditions in Tarifa. You can find them in Estepona, Marbella (San Pedro, Los Monteros and Cabopino), La Cala de Mijas, and Guadalmar in Malaga.
The Secret Spot Kite & SUP Center, a kitesurf school with shop in Torremolinos, has offered high quality courses since 2004, first in Los Álamos and now on the beach of Guadalmar. Although Guadalmar is not an officially designated kitesurfing beach, kitesurfers are tolerated here after the ban in Los Álamos. With ideal wind conditions, future kiters will recall their childhood and remember how to fly a kite. As soon as they are able to correctly handle the kite on land, they are allowed to practise from the waterside and learn for three days to prove themselves in the waves. A good level can be achieved in one week on average. Courses are offered nearly all year round in individual classes or groups, and as required, in English.
Kitesurfing lessons for children as young as eight who are accompanied by an adult take place at the Freedom Kite School in Estepona (as well as in Tarifa), just one of the companies which has welcomed kitesurfers and windsurfers alike for a few decades now, depending on the height of the waves and wind conditions.
CoolHot Kite School also offers lessons in both Tarifa and in El Candado in Malaga for people of all abilities, with private, semi-private and individual classes usually lasting between two to four hours for one or two days.
Under the water
For those who prefer to spend more time under the water and simultaneously explore some of the magnificent marine life in the Costa’s waters, there are more than 100 different dive sites to which companies will lead groups.
Simply Diving’s two centres in Marbella and Torremolinos have both been accredited with the PADI 5 Star Career Development and IDC Dive Centre award from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and are the only British-run centre of this kind in Spain.
Elsewhere, you can learn scuba diving at another five-star dive centre, the Abysub diving school in Fuengirola. Not only does it offer various dive trips to Marbella and the Strait of Gibraltar, but a wide range of PADI courses, including a first aid programme, open water diving courses and training to become a rescue diver are available.
Water skiing, with a difference
Cable skiing is a form of water skiing, with the difference from the traditional sport being an electric cable that pulls the skier’s rope as opposed to a motorboat. The watersports centre on Las Medranas reservoir in Marbella is the only centre to offer cable ski lessons to those keen to try the sport over the age of ten on the Costa del Sol.
The centre gives lessons between 11am and 3pm and 4pm to 8.30pm, although those timings are subject to change depending on sunlight.
Taking it easier
Further east down the coast where the waters are much calmer, sports such as paddle surfing have become very popular in towns such as Nerja which come to life in the summer months thanks to the white beaches and multicultural surroundings. A gentle, more relaxed sport compared to kitesurfing or windsurfing, the beauty of paddleboarding is that you can do it at any age. A mix between surfing and kayaking, paddle surfers have grown in numbers on the Costa del Sol over the past few years, and you won’t find it difficult to get lessons on your nearest beach.
Paddle surfing, as well as kayaking, can also be practised on the province’s various inland reservoirs as well as the sea. The most famous are in El Chorro, known as ‘Malaga’s Lake District’; it has three, large, azure lakes, made by the damming of the Guadalhorce river, which are ideal for swimming. The shoreline offers plenty of places to picnic and sunbathe even during the height of the season and pedalos and canoes are available for hire.
El Chorro is situated between Antequera and Álora and is also famous for the recently re-opened Caminito del Rey walkway.