Sandy getaways are a good-time guarantee, and as luck would have it, Spain's beaches are as sun-drenched as they are plentiful. A patchwork of golden bays are at your beck and call, studded with soaring sandstone cliffs, sleepy fishing towns and cosmopolitan cities. Welcome to a land where to-do lists don't exist, a pitcher of sangria is always chilling and the Instagram opportunities are endless. With villas covering all the crowd-pleasing Costas, say 'hola' to the best beaches in Mainland Spain.
The best holidays revolve around watery soundtracks and sandy toes. From a fresh morning swim to an afternoon spent sunning yourself beneath bright blue skies – there's nothing better than being at the beach. After all, who doesn't love the childlike excitement of spotting the ocean for the first time? Whether you're looking for secret inlets or urban utopias, Mainland Spain's shores can satisfy even the hardest to please sand-seeker…
Costa Blanca's fine white sands sprawl out for a whopping 200km, gifting holidaymakers with 170 beaches of all shapes and sizes. Blue Flags fly preside over spotlessly clean coves, while buzzing bays come with all the bells and whistles to keep things carefree. Boasting Mediterranean climes and crystalline waters, there are no bad choices here.
Paradise is most definitely found at the White Coast's Playa la Granadella. Javea's jaw-dropping answer to your beach prayers, the views are breathtaking, the water's fine and the mood is mellow. Tucked away behind a luscious pine forest, this Blue Flag beauty is cocooned by two rocky headlands and accessorised with white shingle – where the sea waves at you with its glistening good looks. Snorkelling enthusiasts will have a field day splashing around in the turquoise tones, with a flurry of fishy friends and countless underwater caves for company. One for the bucket list, this beach has even graced the big screen. Well, if it's good enough for Hollywood…
The chalk to la Granadella's cheese, Playa de Levante proves that you can have your cake and eat it. For traveller's whose mood changes more than the tide, it's always nice to see what sandy sweet spots are sitting at the other end of the spectrum. Adorned with soaring skyscrapers and towering mountains that give Brazil's Rio a run for its money, it's hard to believe this 2000 metres of sand used to be backed by a humble fishing village. The scenery may well change, but the standard doesn't budge – proudly flying its Blue Flag, these aquamarine waters rival far more remote beaches. Chock-a-block with a wealth of family-fun attractions as well as plenty of practical facilities, all you need to do is sit back, relax and let Levante do all the hard work.
Spain's sunshine coast has long earnt its stripes as a premier beach destination for families and lovebirds alike. A committed as relationship as any, this holiday romance has been going strong for over 60 fun-filled years. True to its name, the mainland's southernmost shores are doused in 320 days of golden rays every year. Not to mention the lengthy 160km of coastline, that can transport you a million miles from anywhere to a millionaire's playground…
Mountains meet the sea in one of the Costa del Sol's most sought-after coastal towns. Teeming with quaint coves and beaches right on the resort's doorstep, there's 15 stretches of sand to discover here alone! Playa de Calahonda is the poster child, beating out some serious competition for the front cover spot on many a travel brochure. Conveniently placed next to Nerja's most notorious feature, the Balcón de Europa, this famous beach sees its fair share of foot fall. Lapped by deep blue waters and huddled between giant honey-hued boulders, the scenes are so achingly beautiful you'll barely notice anyone else…
Serving up sand, sea and sun with a side order of nightlife, Marbella has mastered the art of beach retreats and cosmopolitan culture. Even the bright lights, star-studded bars and luxurious marinas can't outshine the city's headline acts. Showcasing a staggering 24 strips of golden sand, there's no escaping the elegant seafront and its magnetic pull. From inner city beaches like Playa Fontanilla to the A-list bay of El Alicate, you'll be topping up your tan in style wherever you lay down your towel.
Welcome to the 'Warm Coast', where untouched coves and locals-only traffic are the norm. Rolling dunes, virgin pine forests and national parks are music to nature lovers' ears, while those that prefer a little buzz with their beach can swing by the lively harbour towns. Costa Calida is where holidaymakers come to escape and sample a slice of old-school Spain.
Translating to 'the sandbar of the sea', clue's in the name with this one! Affectionately dubbed as a large pond, the coastal lagoon has been sculpted over centuries courtesy of Mother Nature's loving craftsmanship. Separated from the Mediterranean Sea by 22km of land, the shallow waters are wonderfully warm and virtually wave-free. It's no wonder that families flock to the unique string of beaches to make the most of their perfect paddling conditions. Watersport aficionados will appreciate the abundance of splash-happy fun to be had, with sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding all waiting in the wings.
As luck would have it, the prestigious La Manga Club is only a 15 minute drive away, so you can go from natural nirvanas and aquatic adventures to 5-star comfort in no time at all. One of the most well-known resorts in the world, it's almost impossible to tear yourself away from the award-winning amenities and spectacular sports facilities.
If all these beautiful beaches are becoming a bit of a blur, then mix things up with one of Mainland Spain's best kept secrets. Beloved for its historic heritage and semi-desert landscape, Almeria is a dark horse in the sand stakes. Over 200km of coastline caters to every taste, with some spots so diverse you'd be forgiven for thinking you're on another planet!
Sitting pretty in Cabo de Gata, this other-worldly beach calls to adventure addicts and set-jetters alike. Looking like a doppelganger for Mars, dark sands are met by turquoise seas and foaming waters. Finished off with a statement lava formation slap bang in the middle of its shores, it's no surprise the cove was cast in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Huge tongues of volcanic remnants surround Mónsul, framing the bay with a kaleidoscope of colours from rusty reds to pale mauves. Photographer's will have a field day here, as well as anyone who enjoys a walk on the wild side. Facilities are few and far between and the car park favours the early bird, but a little extra effort and you'll be surrounded by endlessly-fascinating landscapes for a beach day you won't soon forget…
Speaking of wild, you won't find a Costa more rugged or bewitching than beautiful Brava. The northernmost of the bunch, its borders stretch from France to the mouth of the Tordera River. A feast for the senses, holidaymakers cottoned onto this coastal gem way back in the 50s. Now a fully-fledged tourist treasure, the pretty towns and Pyrenees Mountains are only just bested by its blissful beaches. Craggy cliffs house tiny coves with dazzling vertical drama, while supersized strips of sand claim just as many hearts as they do Blue Flags.
It's impossible to overemphasise the natural beauty on offer in Costa Brava, where 'best' loses all meaning thanks to 300km of spellbinding scenery. To get a real feel of what makes it so special, lay your towel down on the yellow shores at Tossa de Mar. An oasis of honeyed headlands and luscious pine forest, you'll find yourself lost in nature the moment you step foot on the sand. Iridescent shades of blue and green glisten in the sunlight, a truly Mar-vellous sight to behold. Indulge your curious side and take a glass-bottomed boat trip along the surrounding coastline – where you'll soon be taking note of your next cove conquest.
Last but not least is delightful Dorada. Running for an impressive 200km south of Barcelona to the Delta de l'Ebre wetlands, it's the 'Costas' golden child – literally. Crammed with caramel-hued beaches, idyllic sunbathing spots, historic relics and sightseeing opportunities in nearby cities, Dorada is an all-rounder. So if you like to take the day as it comes, there's plenty to do on all counts.
Every hour is golden hour in Costa Dorada, with a generous helping of heavenly sands scattered along the coast. Nowhere captures the essence of Spain's Mediterranean shores better than the region of Tarragona, where warm, inviting waters meet unspoilt coves and hidden inlets. The town itself can be a little busier, so if you like your beach with some buzz head to L'Arrabassada or El Miracle. No matter where you lay down your towel, an abundance of shops, restaurants and wonderful watersports are never far away. For the wow factor, Cala Jovera packs a punch! Guarded by a Romanesque castle that's precariously perched on nearby cliffs, the small 90m bay makes up for its size with unique charm. Settle in for a day of sunset swooning and leisurely swimming.
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