The Secret Beaches of Costa Brava, Spain

The seashores north of Barcelona make for a day trip of sand-in-your-booty proportions.

By Jeff Kirkwood   |   September 02, 2021

  Michael Cadieux, Unsplash
Costa Brava runs 60 kilometres northeast of Barclona in the Catalonia region of Spain, all the way to the French border.

Costa Brava. Sigh. While Barcelona’s city beaches are bustling and Sitges to the south is splendid, when I want the perfect Spanish beach environment, I go north—hugging the coast of Costa Brava. It’s a raw, rocky and timeless stretch of white Mediterranean sand and painfully blue waters that runs from Barcelona north to a town called Roses (yes, it’s called fucking ROSES), the last Spanish seaside town before you hit France, an area famous for being Salvador Dalí’s base for 50 years.

Taking the Renfe train from Barcelona Sants station, a life-changing experience in itself, you disembark at Estació de Vilassar de Mar for quality time at the first of my favourite secret beaches: Platja de Vilassar de Mar. This is a good introductory Costa Brava beach, because it’s only an hour from the city and you don’t need to bring anything—the famous Spanish hot sauce company Espinaler has a restaurant, a deli and a liquor shop plop right next to the beach. And the food is, en serio, por verdad—estupendo. The beachfront is quiet, unpretentious, gorgeous. And the best part: Espinaler will furnish you with everything you need for a picnic.

Platja Sant Pol de Mar is proper gorgeous, equal parts unassuming and “look at me.”

Just 30 minutes on the train farther north lies my second favourite secret Costa Brava beach: Platja Sant Pol de Mar, a quick taxi ride from the station. This is a gay/hipster/in-the-know beach-day-trip institution—and proper gorgeous, too. It is equal parts unassuming and “look at me.” It is replete with shoreline rock formations that appear to have defied the wear and tear of time, cerulean water, and a lot of tanned women with their boobs on display. There’s no place to buy anything here, so come equipped with supplies—i.e., water.

I've saved the best for last—mostly because it’s the third consecutive beach up the coast on the same train line—and it is one I feel a bit guilty about sharing. I mean, the whole point of a secret beach is that, well, it’s a secret. I’m sure my Spanish friends will understand, however, since Platja de sa Boadella is one of the most mind-blowing places you will ever experience.

I feel a bit guilty about sharing. I mean, the whole point of a secret beach is that it’s a secret.


Nestled into a little Mediterranean dream pocket where the cliffs meet the sea, this beach is a thin, little strip of a thing; its water has shades of blue I don’t think there are even names for. It’s at the foot of a little town called Lloret de Mar that stretches up into the Catalonian mountains. You can access the beach two ways: by walking along the escarpment and gazing down on one of the most beautiful coves you’ve ever seen, or by heading down straight down the goat trail and getting yourself some patatas bravas from the chiringuito. (Honestly, I don’t know where they get ice and power from; it’s like a miracle.)

Simply lying on this little rocky-sandy strand surely raises the question: Does the world even exist outside of the beach?

Jeff Kirkwood

Jeff is Travelier’s editor-in-chief. He has been wandering the globe since age 14, when he begged his folks to send him from Bermuda to boarding school in Canada. He will be bringing his adventurous spirit, story crafting, and insatiable hunger for exciting and beautiful places to Travelier, and to you.

Look for Travelier in print soon.