I have a lazy summer this year — cooped up long enough in the city since my last trip. So I got a good excuse to wake up early on a Sunday to try and experience the last days of the summer. In desperate need of calmness and isolation, I prefer the less crowded and more natural (raw) beaches and coves close to Barcelona city. I headed to Costa Brava.
There’s the well known Tossa de Mar (one closest to Barcelona) with a nice view of the Costa Brava coastline and a medieval walled village on a hilltop overlooking the coves. For a not-so-local person like me, Tossa de Mar is great but I already find it too touristic. It’s a mecca for foreigners. Sometimes, the unknown is better.
Roughly a 2-hour bus ride from Barcelona, it’s my first time to see the beaches of Begur. This part of Costa Brava is much more a getaway for locals. One particular beach which really got my attention is an isolated cove that sits between Racó beach (Playa del Racó of Pals) and the wide cove of Sa Riera. It’s called the cove of Illa Roja or Playa de L'Illa Roja.
Quiet, less crowded, coarse golden sand and clear waters. You’ll know you’re on the right spot when you see its prominent rocky, reddish islet in the middle that gives its name the “Red Island”. It’s a standout.
The 174 meters long cove is under a cliff that divides it into two. It's completely surrounded by high rock walls and lush green vegetation. The rock formation itself is stunning with shades of reddish brown and some purple.
The only way to reach the cove is by walking up a nice mountain path with dry stone walls along the coast from either side of the beach Raco or Sa Siera — like a hidden oasis tucked away in the wilderness.
Disclaimer: it’s a nudist beach!
I later found out it’s an internationally famed nudist beach, especially known to French people. Not to mention, nudism has become a tradition in many Catalan beaches. The good thing about it is its isolation — less crowded and very relaxed. I could care less about nudity.
Anyway, normal beach lovers, family and kids alike enjoy the same spot. Illa Roja's clear blue waters make it perfect for snorkeling with its diverse fish and plants.
And the views from the top of the Illa Roja cliff with its large reddish-brown islet is breathtaking. Picture perfect.