Early morning swim, Llafranc.
Costa Brava oceanswimsafari 2023
8 nights, Wednesday, September 12 - Thursday, September 20, 2023
Our oceanswimsafari to Catalunya's Costa Brava has something for everyone, swimmers and non-swimmers alike. It's is a quirky tour that mixes culture with history, the world's finest food, some inspiring walking (should you wish) 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 2023 - Tuesday, September 12 – Wednesday, September 20. We've reorganised this oceanswimsafari for 2023, reversing our locations and extending our time at our hotel on the beach in Llafranc. Indeed, why not arrive a day or two early to spend some time on the beach in Llafranc and start to soak up the atmosphere of the best part of the Costa Brava...?
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 among 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 Cerbère, on the France-Spain border, to Palafrugell and Palamos. 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. It's a relaxed swim, with regular stops to regroup along the way.
Actually, all our 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. 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 morning 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.
The Costa Brava is called the 'Wild Coast' because it is wild: lots of cliffs, caves, nooks, crannies, and very clear water.
Not so wild bay, Llafranc, early morning. We'll be based on this beach for five nights.
Where we go...
We meet in Llafranc, a beach town in the middle of some of the Costa Brava's most mountainous coastline, from where we'll do an array of swims up and down the coast.
Llafranc ('Yafrank'), is a fishing village known more these days as a holiday town, with its broad beach and perambulating promenade. Llafranc sits on a 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, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, Casamar, high on the hill overlooking the bay.
Old Madremanya becomes mysterious at night.
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 have four nights in Llafranc. On our first morning, we'll swim from the beach at Llafranc, around the point and down the coast to the next village, Calella de Palafrugell, and back again. This will give you a good feel for the water in this part of the Mediterranean, and start your orientation in one of the most beautiful parts of the Costa Brava, but it's a part of the coast that very few visit. It's about a 2km journey round trip to Calella and back. We'll spend two mornings exploring the coastline south and north of Llafranc, the coves, the ravines, the caves. 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 you're lost.) It's perhaps the most stunningly beautiful beach, headland and swim location you will ever find. Other people have tried to find 'our secrete spot', but they've failed. Sometimes, it's the more adventurous, the curious who reap the rewards.
After four nights in Llafranc, you certainly won't want to leave. But there's so much more to explore. We'll head north to the ancient town of Figueres, the principal town in northern Catalonia, and the home of the museum that the artist, Salvador Dalí, built to house his works, and his tomb, which is in the museum's basement.
On the way to Figueres, we'll call into Cala Montgó, where we'll swim across the bay and out through the heads, exploring sea caves on the deepest part of the Catalan coast.
Figueres (pron. "Fig-erra") is the last major town in Spain on the way to France. It's inland a little, but it's perfectly positioned to be the base of our activities in the northern part of the Costa Brava. Figueres was the birthplace of the idiosyncratic and professionally eccentric surrealist Salvador Dalí. There are still plenty of people around town who remember Dalí well, including Luis, 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 Catalan for 'fig trees'). The Dalí Museum is just around the corner, and there are a wealth of cafés and restaurants within a couple of minutes' walk. We'll visit the museum whilst we're there. And we won't miss the annex dedicated to Dalí'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, a one-time war photographer. In an era of globalisation, it's nice to know there still are places that offer a taste of the local.
Crossing the border, France into Spain.
From Figueres, we'll head up to Cerbère, the first French town over the border, from where we'll swim around the end of the Pyrenees, from France to Spain (or Spain to France, depending on conditions on the day). It's a spectacular swim, and a spectacular drive over the last mountain before the sea. After our swim, we'll have lunch in a little family-run French bistro high on the hill overlooking the bay at Cerbère.
We'll also head down 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 Figueres and Cerbère. 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 visit Casa Dalí, where the artist lived for 50 years with his wife, Gala. When Gala died, in 1982, Dalí left, never to return. The house is virtually as they left it, and managed now by the Dalí Foundation. 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 in many media. But he was not every Catalan's copa de sangría...
Finally, we'll transfer to another of our favourite spots, Madremanya, a medieval village outside Girona, the regional capital. At Hotel la Plaça – renovated 12th-century stables – we'll take the tasting 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. A night at Hotel la Plaça is everyone's idea of paradise.
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Peloton about to jump, Cerbére.
The Bay of Llafranc, our base for five nights.
Past the Three Pines Hotel (Bar Tres Pins) and into Calella de Palafrugell.
Madremanya, and its rolling hills.