Selwo Safari Park
One of the highlights of the Costa del Sol, this gem is tucked away in the hills behind Estepona. One of a range of Selwo attractions on the Costa, the others being the cable car and marine aquarium, both in Benalmadena, this safari park has animals roaming in large paddocks and visitors view them from open topped trucks driven by the park’s friendly rangers. The top of the park offers excellent views across the Costa to Gibraltar and there is a restaurant. Of course, you can ride back down on a truck, but it is much more fun to walk and cross the rope bridges over valleys filled with bison and zebra.
No visit to the Costa del Sol can be complete without a visit to this beautiful city. High in the mountains, the city has grandeur of its own even without the influence of its crowning glory, the famous Alhambra Palace. The influence of Muslim rule is everywhere in the architecture of this area of Spain and no more so than here where the last Muslim Emirs to govern Spain resided. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the biggest attractions in Spain and the green tranquillity of its gardens is a stark contrast to the heat of the Andalucian summer.
Early risers with sea facing frontline accommodation may be sharp eyed enough to spot dolphins making their way down the shoreline in the early morning. Those who want to get up close can take a dolphin spotting cruise from one of the many marinas dotted along the Costa. It is a rare cruise that sets sail in the summer and doesn’t see a pod of dolphins somewhere on the journey. These dolphins come close to the boats and one of the best ways to see them is on a catamaran. If you are brave enough to lie on the nets (and don’t mind getting wet) you can almost touch the dolphins as they play around the boat.
Selwo Marina and Dolphinarium
An alternative to riding the waves, this aquarium park offers those who don’t have great sea legs a chance to get up close to dolphins without leaving shore. Tucked away in the beautiful Parque de Paloma (Park of the Doves) in Benalmadena, this attraction has dolphin shows and also a petting pool where you can get your photograph taken with these amiable creatures. As well as the dolphins there are a troop of extremely amusing pirate sea lions, performing parrots and a penguin house.
No one who comes to the Costa feels they have completed their visit until they have toured the narrow streets of Marbella and admired the chic clothing on display in the boutique windows. A little farther away is the famous marina of Puerto Banus where stars and sheikhs moor their lavish yachts. There’s no better way to escape the heat than with a long cool drink at the marina whilst watching how the other half live.
This look at the attractions of the Costa del Sol, researched with the aid of Club La Costa and others, was written by Jaye Staddon, a regular visitor to Spain.