Spain's Costa Brava

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Early morning swim, Llafranc.

Costa Brava oceanswimsafari 2020

8 nights, Friday, September 11 - Saturday, September 19

Our oceanswimsafari to Catalunya's Costa Brava is a quirky tour that mixes culture with history, the world's finest food, this year also one of Spain's best wine fairs, and some of the most unforgettable swimming you'll ever experience: some of the clearest water against the most spectacular backdrops, in the heart of Catalunya, Spain's most dynamic region. It all sounds too good to be together in the one package. But here you have it.

We're planning one Costa Brava oceanswimsafari in 2020 - Friday, Sept 11 - Saturday, Sept 19. We've reorganised this oceanswimsafari for 2020, reversing our locations and extending our time at our hotel on the beach in Llafranc.

This is one of the most glorious swim experiences we have to offer – swimming from France to Spain around the bottom of the Pyrenees, exploring coves, bays and caves – it seems around every rock is an undiscovered inlet, or a cave recessing deep into the cliff face... We'll take you to "Our Secret Spot", explore the genius of Salvador Dalí, trek the most spectacular stretches of the famed Costa Brava coastal track, and we'll enjoy some of the best food the world has to offer (this is no exaggeration: The Girona region of Catalunya, behind the Costa Brava, is home to some of the world's most inventive cuisine, its restaurants regularly rated as some of the best in the world, according to Michelin).

The water along the Costa Brava generally is of almost perfect clarity. Swims are at various spots between Cap Cerbére, on the France-Spain border, to Palafrugell. Swim selection each day is dependent on conditions. Swims generally are around 1.5-3.5km. Our flagship swim from France to Spain is around 3.4km.

All swims are relaxed, non-competitive, and informal, suitable for swimmers of most capacities and interests. No-one has to swim; all can swim if they like. Usually, you can enter or exit the water as you wish. We'll be accompanied by escort boats on all our "wild coast" swims except for beach swims from our base in Llafranc.

This is a very special oceanswimsafari. Space is limited. If you're interested, let us know quick and smart (use the email link below).

oceanswimsafari duration is 9 days/8 nights.

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The Costa Brava is called the "Wild Coast" because it is wild: lots of cliffs, caves, nooks, crannies, and very clear water.

Our program...

  • Day 1 (Sept 11, Friday) - Meet in Llafranc (we'll organise a bus to transfer you from Girona railway station if necessary), Intro Session then dinner on us
  • Day 2 (Sept 12, Saturday) - Swim the Wild Coast ("Costa Brava") - boat-escorted swim, course depends on conditions (overnight Llafranc)
  • Day 3 (Sept 13, Sunday) - Swim "Our Secret Spot", trek the Costa Brava track (overnight Llafranc)
  • Day 4 (Sept 14, Monday) - Morning swim, then we'll leave the rest of the day at leisure for you to explore one of the most beautiful parts of the Costa Brava
  • Day 5 (Sept 15, Tuesday) – Swim the Wild Coast ("Costa Brava") - boat-escorted swim, course depends on conditions (overnight Llafranc)
  • Day 6 (Sept 16, Wednesday) - Transfer to Cala Montgó for our sea cave swim, transfer to Figueres, visit Dalí Museum, introduction to "Our Secret Sommelier", (overnight Figueres)
  • Day 7 (Sept 17, Thursday) – Transfer to Cerbére, swim France to Spain, lunch, on us, at a little restaurant overlooking the harbour in Cerbére - (We may swim Spain-France, depending on winds and other weather (overnight Figueres)
  • Day 8 (Sept 18, Friday) – Bus to Cadaqués, "tourist train" to Cap de Creus, visit Casa Dalí, transfer to Madremanya for our Farewell Degustacion dinner at Hotel La Plaça (dinner included - overnight Madremanya)
  • Day 9 (Sept 19, Saturday) – Breakfast on the terrace then, sadly, time to head off to our next adventure.

Note that some minor details may change, eg swim locations on particular days.

costa brava 16 16Includes...
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • Breakfast daily
  • Lunch Cerbére, dinner Llafranc (first night) and Madremanya (final night)
  • Programmed transfers (excluding to and from start and finish of the oceanswimsafari)
  • Programmed admissions, including -
    • Casa Dalí, Port Lligatt
    • Turistic Tren, Cadaqués
    • Museo Dalí, Figueres
  • Escorted swims
  • Post-swim lunch, Cerbére
  • Degustacion dinner, Madremanya
  • oceanswimsafari swim cap, dry bag
  • Land content only

Package cost - Twin/Double share pp - $A3,730, Single $A4,745 (these are 2019 costs; 2020 costs TBA)

Does not include...
  • Transfers to and from start and finish of oceanswimsafari in Llafranc and Madremanya respectively, although we can assist if necessary (we'll organise a bus from Girona to Llafranc if necessary).
  • Meals other than where indicated
  • Drinks
  • Incidental transfers (eg taxis and buses for shopping)
Please note...
  1. Package costs are kept under review in light of exchange rate movements.
  2. Some details may vary over time and this may have a minor impact on costs. While we do our best to keep costs to the advertised rate, we reserve the right to vary the package price if necessary.

Our oceanswimsafaris are led by and Mrs Sparkle. Unlike others offering tours like these, we've done all these swims ourselves. We've been to the places; we know our way around; we lead the swims.

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Not so wild bay, early morning.

Where we go (This section still to be updated for 2020...)

costa brava 16 12We meet in Figueres (pron. "Fig-erras"), the last major town in Spain on the way to France. It's the venue for the Transfronterera Swim, from Cerbére in France around Cap Cerbére back to Portbou. Figueres is a good base for the most northern parts of Spanish Catalunya. From there, we'll transfer to nearby coastal towns for swims and other cultural and historical activities.

Old Madremanya becomes mysterious at night.

Figueres was the birthplace of the idiosyncratic and professionally eccentric surrealist Salvador Dali's birthplace. There are still plenty of people around town who remember Dalí well, including Lluis, who supervises our dining room at Hotel Rambla. Our hotel sits on Las Ramblas, Figueres's grand promenade -- a glorious avenue of trees and town life (Figueres is Catalunyan for "fig trees"). The Dali Museum is just around the corner, and there are a wealth of cafés and restaurants within a couple of minutes' walk. The Ramblas, outside our hotel -- Hotel Ramblas -- is the venue for the Empordà Wine Fair, where producers from all around the Empordà region show their latest vintages.

On Day 2, we'll head north, through Portbou and across the border to Cerbére, from where we'll swim around the end of the Pyrenees from France to Spain. We'll lunch in Cerbére afterwards. It's a tiny French town, the mirror image of Portbou on the Spanish side, then we'll head back to Figueres for the night.

On Day 3, we'll transfer to the coast to Cadaques ("Kad-akays"), another beautiful fishing village, but with the terrain of this part of Spain, it's a world away from Portbou and Cerbére. We'll jump on the "Tourist Train", for an epic journey to Cap de Creus and its lighthouse, with breathtaking views up and down the Costa Brava. On the way back, we'll stop for lunch on the beach at Port Lligat ("Yigatt"), before visiting Casa Dalí, where the artist lived for 50 years with his wife, Gala. When Gala died in 1982, Dali left, never to return. The house is virtually as they left it. Eccentric, idiosyncratic, multi-dimensional, surprising, stunning, even moving in the personal insight it gives you into the artist. He wasn't just eccentric; also brilliant and prolific. But he was not every Catalan's cup of sangría.

We'll get to know Figueres. We'll go through the Dali Museum -- the artist's remains lie in a tomb in the basement -- and we'll be stunned at the array and the diversity of the his work. And we won't miss the annex dedicated to Dali's jewellery. It's extraordinary.

The shopping in Figueres is excellent, too, as is the local wine. We'll show you our fave wine bar in the world, run by a cigar-chomping sommelier, Pau. In an era of globalisation, it's nice to know there still are places that offer a taste of the local. If there's time, check out the dining room at the Hotel Duran, where the table still is set for Dali and his friends, who ate there for lunch each day.

On Wednesday, we'll change base to Llafranc, a beach town farther down the Costa Brava, from where we'll do an array of swims along that section of the Costa Brava. On the way, we'll call into Cala Montgó, where we'll swim across the bay, exploring sea caves on the deepest part of the Catalan coast.

Llafranc ("Yafrank"), is another fishing village although known more these days as a holiday town, with its broad beach and perambulating promenade. Llafranc sits on another beautiful bay, surrounded by steep hills. Swimming is terrific, and so is the food. Llafranc and the surrounding villages have lots of cafés and restaurants to choose from. In this part of Spain, the coast is a chain of unexpected little bays, most of them with tiny villages nestled into their crux.

We'll visit "our Secret Spot", which we discovered literally by accident when we become well and truly lost during our visit to Catalunya in 2012. (The best discoveries are those you make when lost.) It's perhaps the most stunningly beautiful beach, headland and swim location you will ever find.

Finally, we'll transfer to another of our favourite spots, Madremanya, a medieval village outside Girona, the regional capital, where we'll take La Plaça's degustacion menu for our Farewell Dinner. The food is stunning at the hotel. You will have dishes and tastes you've never dreamt of. Restaurant La Plaça is part of that enigmatic tradition of Catalan cuisine based in the Girona area.

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Crossing the border, France into Spain.

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Peloton about to jump, Cerbére.

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