Top activities for kids on the Costa del Sol

Kid-friendly activities Costa del Sol_Villa Guadalain

San Pedro de Alcantara in Marbella is an ideal destination for family-friendly holidays, centrally located to enjoy all of the activities for kids on the Costa del Sol. There is so much to see and do during your stay for the whole family to enjoy! 

At Villa Guadalain we have two swimming pools and a private garden, and the beach is an easy walk from the villa. But if you want to take the children out for a day’s excursion, you’ll find so many options: aqua parks, indoor play centres, dolphin watching, and horse riding, to name just a few. 

The Costa del Sol is home to so many amazing children’s activities. Here are just a handful of our favourites:

Kidz Kingdom

If you want to get the little ones out of the sun, why not take them to Kidz Kingdom in Estepona. An indoor adventure park with play facilities for children from 0-11 years of age, under parental supervision.

Web: http://www.kidzkingdom.eu
Tel: 952 928 936  
Address: Kidz Kingdom, N340 KM 166 2, Bel Air, Estepona 29680, Málaga

Selwo Aventura 

Selwo Aventura from Selwideos

An adventure and safari park, located in between San Pedro de Alcantara and Estepona. Selwo Aventura is a great day out for children of all ages.

Your children will be able to experience an expedition in the middle of nature, moving through different territories of Africa and other continents. Meet with incredible species such as the lion, the white rhinoceros, the giraffe, the hippopotamus, the cheetah, the Iberian lynx, the Asian elephant or the red panda.

They will also get to cross suspension bridges and enjoy adventure activities such as the Ziwa zip line, Kuruka trampolines or test your aim in shooting with Mshale bow.

Web: www.selwo.es/
Tel:  952 577 773
Address: Avenue Parque Selwo s/n A7 highway km 162,5 29680 Estepona, Málaga

Selwo Marina

The sister park of Selwo Aventura, Selwo Marina is situated in the town of Benalmadena, around a 40-minute drive from Villa Guadalain. Here your children will enjoy a marine adventure with dolphin and penguin encounters, swimming with sea lions and getting up close to some of the most emblematic marine species on earth.

Where: Parque de la Paloma, s/n, 29630 Benalmádena, Málaga
Tel: 952 57 77 73
Web: https://www.selwomarina.es/

Costa Water Park 

Costa Water Park fun video from My Guide Marbella

The most fun on the water. Costa Water Park is a giant bouncy assault course for kids and adults alike. There are giant slides, balance bridges and static surfboards to clamber across. There are Costa Water Park centres in San Pedro de Alcantara, Puerto Banus, Elviria, Fuengirola and Benalmadena. It’s a giant bouncy adventure park in the sea!

Check the website for seasonal open dates: http://www.costawaterpark.com/en/

Aquamijas

The Costa del Sol’s famous waterpark with nine giant water slides, a wave pool and normal pool with water fountains and sprinklers. This is a must-visit for children on the Costa del Sol. Beware of queues from early in the morning, this place gets busy! There are special entrance deals for afternoon slots, but your children will thank you for taking them!

Address: Autovía A7, Salida 208B, 29651 Mijas Costa. 
Web: https://www.aquamijas.com/en/

Bahia Park

45,000 square metres of parkland and 3,000 square meters of water. Bahia Park is a popular water park at the western end of the Costa del Sol in Algeciras. There are plenty of wild slides, a wave pool and Jurassic river run. Plus the largest Jacuzzi in Andalucía! 

Web: https://www.bahiapark.com/en/
Address: Avenida Virgen de La Palma s/n, 11203 Algeciras, Spain
Phone: 956 63 33 30

Horse riding

Our friend Louise Brace from Rental Tonic horse riding at sunset on El Palmar Beach in Cadiz

There are various equestrian centres along the Costa del Sol and kilometres of countryside to enjoy a safe horse riding experience with the kids. Head down to the Costa de la Luz and you will even be able to enjoy a sunset beach walk. 

One of the most renowned centres is the Escuela de Arte Ecuestre Costa del Sol and close to us between Marbella and Estepona is Ranch Siesta los Rubios. 

Address: Diseminado Rio Padron 159 Cn 340, 29680, Estepona
Phone: 952 80 80 77
Web: www.escuela-ecuestre.com/

Dolphin Watching

Get your children out onto the ocean waves with a dolphin watching excursion. The best place to see dolphins is from Gibraltar and along the Costa de la Luz where you might even spot a whale. If you want to stay closer to home there are boat companies from Fuengirola to Estepona that offer dolphin watching trips. Or why not just catch the little cruiser that runs from Benalmadena port to Marbella. Take a picnic and enjoy the scenery of the coast from a different angle.

Splash Water Sports Cabopino

Waterskiing, jet skis, bananas and doughnuts, Splash Water Sports in the little port of Cabopino, just to the east of Marbella, have been organising fun water sport adventures for families for over 20 years. 

Address: Puerto Cabopino | Local 9c, 29600, Marbella, Spain
Web: https://splashwatersports.com/
Tel: 670 65 92 18

Cable Ski

Wakeboard Marbella Centre in San Pedro is marvellous for older children.  Our family has spent many hours at this cable ski water park. This activity is more popular for ages 10 and up.

 It is a well-run business which the children all love. They are provided with all the equipment including life vests and can kneeboard, wakeboard and water-ski.  It also has a cafe and picnic area for parents to watch the fun or have a go themselves!

Where: Parque de las Medranas, S/N, 29670 San Pedro Alcántara, Málaga, Spain
Tel: +34 952 78 55 79

Bioparc Fuengirola

BIOPARC Fuengirola is an animal park which has recreated some of the most amazing rainforests in the world: the island of Madagascar, Equatorial Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific islands.

They have put emphasis on reproducing the vegetation, the role of water in tropical forests, and how species are organized and interact together. This is a great family-friendly visit for children to enjoy and learn all about their natural habitat. 

Where: Calle Camilo José Cela, 6, 29640 Fuengirola, Málaga
Tel: 952 66 63. 01
Web: https://www.bioparcfuengirola.es/

Kitesurfing in Tarifa

Beautiful video of Kitesurfing in Conil de la Frontera from Costa de la Luz videos

About an hour’s drive down the coast this windy beach is one of the best places to kitesurf in the world, Tarifa and the Costa de la Luz. The wide long sandy beaches of the Costa de la Luz and the wind blowing in from the Atlantic ocean make this an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts.

There are lots of kite surfing and surfing school which cater to children from Tarifa to El Palmar beach and the beautiful village of Conil de la Frontera.

Very popular with teenagers and older children!

Ronda and the Grazalema Natural Park

Ronda and the Grazalema Natural Park

Just 45 minute’s drive up into the hills behind our family-friendly holiday villa in San Pedro de Alcantara, you reach the historic city of Ronda and the whitewashed pueblos of the Serrania de Ronda. 

There is something about Ronda that sparks a passion for visitors. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles both fell in love with Ronda. Perhaps it’s the fact that one of the oldest cities in Spain, is so full of life and vitality.  And when you look out to the landscape of the Serrania de Ronda from the ‘picture perfect’ Puente Viejo, you will appreciate the beauty and authenticity of Andalucía. 

If you only have a day to explore Ronda, walk across the Puente Viejo (bridge), explore the Madragón Palace, take a stroll through the pretty Alameda de Tajo (Ronda’ central park), and wander through the cobbled streets of the old town, stopping off for some tapas and a glass of Ronda wine along the way. 

However, if you are looking to spend a couple of days exploring the city and surrounding countryside, then we highly recommend that you also include a wine tour at one of the region’s renowned bodegas and a trip to the Grazalema Natural Park.

You can reach Ronda by bus from San Pedro’s bus station. Check out this San Pedro to Ronda bus timetable.

The Serrania de Ronda

Cueva del Gato outside of the whitewashed village of Benaojan

There are many white villages (pueblos blancos) perched high in the hills behind Villa Guadalain. Head up past the luxurious urbanisations of El Madroñal and La Zagaleta to the beautiful city of Ronda and surrounding countryside, known as the Serrania de Ronda.  

The Serrania de Ronda’s villages are distinctive by their whitewashed houses and narrow, steep streets. They were originally built as lookout points and watchtowers by the Berbers to protect them from the invading Christians, but are now principally agricultural towns.

The small towns are usually built around a village square with a church and many have museums or castles to explore. There is always a bar or restaurant open to have something to eat. Many have small tourist offices where you can pick up some interesting information about the area.  

As they are in the hills they are best reached by car and the roads leading up to them can be narrow and windy.  Many of the streets are cobblestoned and steep so you will need comfortable shoes when walking around.

Some of our favourite villages in the Serrania de Ronda are Benaojan where you can visit the Cueva del Gato and walk the river route alongside the Rio Guaduares, Cortes de la Frontera and Montejaque. 

The village of Juzcar is one that will interest the children. Far from being a whitewashed village, Juzcar, located in the scenic Valle del Genal, is the location for the filming of the Smurf movies. Once filming had finished, locals decided to keep the village blue and it has become something of a legend in the Serrania de Ronda.

There are many other white villages to visit, including Zahara de la Fontera, Casares, Gaucin, Ubrique and more.  All have their own unique qualities and charm.  For further information about them please ask us directly.

The Serrania de Ronda also forms part of the DO Sierra de Malaga wine production and part of Malaga´s official wine route. We highly recommend a winery and vineyard tour if you have time. There are several excellent bodegas in the area where you can visit the vineyards and enjoy a wine tasting session and lunch, such as Bodega F. Schatz, Descalzos Viejos and Bodega Garcia Hidalgo.

Check out this wonderful video about Ronda’s local wineries. 

A video of Ronda’s wine route from Spain-holiday.

Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

Driving on from Ronda about another 25km you will reach the gorgeous village of Grazalema nestled in the stunning Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the Cadiz region.

Smaller and less busy, this picturesque white village is often the starting point for hikers into the beautiful natural park.  

The Sierra de Grazalema was Spain’s first natural park given a UNESCO biosphere status in 1977.  The region is still relatively unknown outside of Spain, which makes it perfect for exploring an authentic region off the beaten tourist track.

The scenery is magnificent with peaks and lush river valleys, gorges and hilltop whitewashed villages. During the winter, it receives snow and I can’t think of a more beautiful picture-postcard than the village of Grazalema covered in snow! 

The route along the Rio Majaceite an excellent day trip with kids. Video by La Provincia de Cadiz.

One of our favourite family-friendly day trips is the river walk along the Rio Majaceite. It’s a good two-hour hike starting out at Benamahoma and ending at El Bosque. Take lots of water and enjoy a dip in the river and little ‘puddle lakes’ along the way. 

At the entrance to the Grazalema National Park, you have the hilltop towns of El Gastor and Zahara de la Sierra overlooking the impressive reservoir where you can hire Kayaks and swim.

Views to the reservoir at Zahara de la Sierra

The Local Market in San Pedro de Alcantara

San Pedro de Alcantara market fragrant spices

I love to go to the weekly market when I’m in San Pedro. It’s so colourful and full of atmosphere and energy  – a great place to get a taste of the “real Spain”.

This market, otherwise known as El Barato or Mercadillo visits all the local towns and it comes to us on a Thursday morning.  Held on the Recinta Ferial (Fairground) on Calle Jorge Guillén, it’s off the road to Ronda, near the petrol station.  It’s possible to walk up from the centre of San Pedro. It starts at 9am until around 2pm when everyone goes home for lunch.

Depending on the time of year I would recommend going early as it gets very hot around midday and also you will have to park further away.  It’s very popular.  

San Pedro de Alcantara market friendly traders

You can park your car on the street if you can find a space or try the dirt parking ground off Avenida Pablo Ruiz Picasso.  There is usually a parking attendant there and it costs 1 euro to park.

The market sells most things, but I always buy the fruits and vegetables.   Because they are locally grown they are much more tasty than the supermarket variety.  And, a huge  bonus, there is no plastic packaging.  Everything is given to you in paper bags or you can use your own.  

The vendors are really friendly and will usually let you taste before you buy.  They are really animated, shouting out what they have to sell and encouraging people to come and buy – just like the old market traders. 

I love to get fresh figs and huge red salad tomatoes, plums, juicy peaches and nectarines.

I am usually laden down with produce on my way back to the car.  A visit to the spice stand is also a must.  You can get most spices and rubs; saffron, many different types of paprika, and dried chillis to name few.  

We always buy the pil-pil mix to make our favourite prawns pil-pil. And chimichurri spice mix to add to chicken and fish.  I usually have orders from everyone back home as well so end up with kilos of it (very smelly in the luggage going home!)

San Pedro de Alcantara market fresh produce

It’s best to have a walk around before you buy the heavy fruit and veg.  There are so many other things to look at from clothes and homeware, lots of leather bags, shoes and hats.  Just about everything you can think of really.

It’s always fun to have a coffee break in one of the small cafés that spring up on the day.  

I really can’t recommend a market visit enough, I will never miss it if I’m there on a Thursday.  See our list of things to do for locations of the other market days.

Casares – a great day out in a beautiful Andalucian white village

Casares – a great day out in a beautiful Andalucian white village

If you are looking for a good day trip that won’t take all day, then a trip to Casares won’t disappoint.  

From our house in San Pedro De Alcantara you can drive to Casares in as little as 40 minutes. The most direct route is to take the AP7 road past Estepona, take the exit 153 and follow Pista Colada de los Molinos a E and MA8300 to Calle Molinos/MA-528 in Casares. A quick check with google maps will show you it’s quite simple.

As you approach Casares the road begins to wind and you see the beauty of the Spanish countryside and the wonder that is Casares. Houses seemingly cling to the edge of mountains as the views sweep before you.

As you approach Casares follow the signs to ‘CENTRO HISTÓRICO’.  Whatever you do,

don’t drive downhill.  Park at the top.  In the summer months, a policeman will probably be there to encourage you to do so.  The walk down to the town is gorgeous, through narrow winding streets. 

 Once there you will see why it’s pointless to drive down.  It’s a beautiful white village.  A walk around this historical place makes you wonder how they built it.  History is all around you.  Apparently, Casares got its name after one Julius Caesar popped in one day to receive the healing sulfurous waters of La Hedionda.  The Romans and Arabs have left their mark on Casares. 

A walk around the village shows there are few modern trappings,  just a sense of history and of a village quietly going about its business.  Although the area sees plenty of tourists you don’t feel people all around you.  There are lots of artisan shops to visit and tapas bars throughout.  It is a little taste of Spanish life.

Casares nestled in the mountains

Before you leave make your way to the edge of the village to take in the views from the cliff edge. There you will marvel at the birds majestically carried in the airstreams above.  For the ‘twitchers’ amongst you, you will see falcons, peregrines and eagles.

View from the top of Casares

On the way back we stopped the Venta Victoria, a family-run restaurant for a tasty late lunch. We sat out on the terrace which was lovely and enjoyed the spectacular views. The food was delicious, fresh, and homemade, and very inexpensive.  Ask them what their special of the day is and go for that..

There are a number of other restaurants to try on the way down, we will write about them as we try them.

Was the trip to Casares worth the day?  Definitely, yes.  Lovely to see one of the beautiful white villages and stupendous views and enjoy traditional Spanish food on the way home.

All the Fun of the Feria

An Afternoon Out in San Pedro de Alcantara

Last October we enjoyed our annual feria in San Pedro and it was a fun week of family-friendly activities including flamenco music, street parades, and lots of traditional Spanish food and drink.  

Most towns and cities will host an annual street fair or feria to honour their patron saint.  In San Pedro de Alcantara, in Andalucia, our feria is held every year in the third week of October.   

A festive time for the whole family,  the town dresses itself up with lights and fireworks and everyone is encouraged to join in and have a good time.

San Pedro de Alcantara Spain Feria Oct 2018
San Pedro de Alcantara Andalucia Feria

If you’re a visitor to Spain the feria is a great time to participate in the local culture. Young and old don their finest traditional costumes. Women and children in flamenco style dresses have flowers in their hair and dancie to the tunes of flamenco music.

San Pedro de Alcantara Feria

The official opening of the San Pedro Feria at the beginning of the week has a fantastic fireworks display.  A street parade brings the Patron Saint Pedro to the people. Activities and games for the children and, exhibitions, senior activities, and street stalls also open throughout the day.

There really is something for everyone.,  In the evening there are fairground rides and playgrounds and street stalls and bars serving local tapas and drinks.

The feria is located in the Recinto Ferial fairground near the boulevard in San Pedro.   You can leisurely stroll around, visit the traditional casetas (white tents) offering all types of entertainment, take part in the many games stalls or take a break to sip some wine and enjoy some tapas.

Highly recommended!

Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club

Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club

Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club in San Pedro de Alcantara the first course designed by the late and the great Severiano Ballesteros. It’s also one of the best value courses in the region. 

http://villaguadalain.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CLUB-HOUSE.jpg
The Friendly Club House at Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club

To set the stage I am an average golfer, I have a handicap of 18. It could be lower if only I could drag myself away from the office to play a little more frequently. Los Arqueros is a favourite course of mine, it is a tricky, idiosyncratic golf course with lots of challenges. There are some easier holes but there are plenty that have been created to catch you out. It is a course I always make time to play.

As you take the road up to Los Arqueros it might be a good idea to buy some balls from the road side golf ball seller. If you play Los Arqueros more than once in a week there is a good chance you could be buying back the balls you thought you had lost. 

The club house is friendly, the staff know what the course can do to you. 

Walk or buggy?

I like to walk the course, but I play most of my golf in S.E.Asia where golf courses dictate you take a buggy. Walking makes a nice change. Having said that most of my friends look at the hills and ask, “buggy?”.

Hole 1. 347 meters, par 4, handicap 11.

As you look down the hill from the tee, the driving range netting is to the left. Forget looking to the right, it’s out of bounds. It’s tempting to play a 3 wood here, the sensible option; take a long iron. Too often I ignore the advice I give myself and take a 3 wood. A 5 iron off the tee is fine. If all goes well, the second shot gives you a sight of the green, down the hill. It’s not a long hole but the first shot off the tee is important. The hole is one of the more forgiving. Tip, don’t over hit your second shot, if you do, you’ll be in a world of pain. 

Hole 2. 156 meters, par 3, handicap 17.

At the bottom of a steep slope you come to the 2nd hole. The view opens up to the 2nd, 3rdand 4thfairways. Hole 2 is relatively simple. The website at Los Arqueros says ‘aim to the left of the green’, I just hope to get to the green without dropping into the bunkers that Seve created to defend the green. A 5 iron normally gets me there. If you land in the bunkers, the big green gives you a chance to remedy the first shot. 

Hole 3. 361 meters, par 4, handicap 5.

To the left there is a big lake. To the right the 4thfairway. Don’t go left. I go with a driver at this tee. There’s plenty of room on the 4thfairway to make amends for a wild shot to the right. The green is on a slight hill, so take a longer club for the second shot, it will help you get past the stream that lies 10 meters infront of the green. 

Hole 4. 311 meters, par 4, handicap 13 – dog leg left.

Aim to the right of the fairway. I always take a driver. It suits my game. There’s room to the right on the 3rdfairway for the slice or fade. Just don’t go left. On the dog leg you will see a small tree infront of the green with bunkers left and right. They are quite tame.

Hole 5. 154 meters, par 3, handicap 15 

Uphill, so take a longer iron. I should heed my notes here, I always think I will get there with a 6 iron. I never do and leave the tee cursing myself for not using a 5 iron. 

HOLES 2,3 and 4 Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club
Holes 2 3 and 4

Hole 6. 519 meters, par 5, handicap 3 

This hole and the next 2 are the 3 holes that make Los Arqueros memorable. Play them well and you can be forgiven for talking about it in the club house, ad nauseam. 

 

At the tee you see water infront of you. If that’s not hard enough don’t go left, a stream runs the length of the hole. Just go right. The second shot is another tricky one down a very narrow fairway. Go middle…left or right is horrible. The first and second shots are crucial to make a good score on this hole

 

Hole 7. 304 meters, par 4, handicap 4

A short climb up a steepish hill to the 7thtee. If you are walking you might think, “why did I not take a buggy?” 

If you thought hole 6 was narrow! At only 30 meters wide, with hazards left and right there is only one thing you do, pray! Take a 5 or 6 or 7 or a putter off the tee. Just play straight. The score card says the hole is a handicap 7, I have always made it play like handicap 1. It’s the hole to catch out all club golfers. It’s not a long par 4 it’s just very narrow and you have to play to the fairway, there is no left or right on this hole.

 

Hole 8. 480 meters, par 5, handicap 1

The 3rd in a series of 3 tricky holes. The golfing ego always gets the better of me on this tee. I always take a driver and aim to the left, My fade brings the ball back into the fairway. 

Do not go right. The only way you will see that ball again is when you buy it back from one of the numerous lost ball sellers that dot around the course. 

The decision you make on the 2ndshot dictates how well you play this hole. Do you take a 3 or 5 wood and clatter over the big gully? Or, do you lay up and play safe. 

Hole 9. 283 meters, par 4, handicap 9

All up hill. I like walking this course but at the end of this hole you do tend to think ‘why?’

One of the easier holes, a 3 wood followed with a seven iron to the green, that is if all plays well. If?

The turn

Hole 10. 330 meters, par 4, handicap 4

The temptation is to take the driver, put it away. To the left, out of bounds, to the right a lump of rock. All this makes the landing area narrow. Take a long iron or hybrid. The tee shot is the make or break shot for this hole, get it right and the rest will be strawberries and cream. It’s only a handicap 4 because golfers make it so by not thinking through the first hole properly. 

Hole 11. 144 meters, par 3, handicap 10

My bogie hole and I don’t mean I always hit a bogie here. From the bottom of the hill It does not seem like a long par 3, but don’t let that fool you. I agree with the club website, ‘play a club that is 2 clubs longer than you first think’. 

Hole 12. 320 meters, par 4, handicap 2

A magnificent view. Stretching below a big fairway that narrows towards the top. I like to take a driver but too often it lands me in trouble. Out of bounds to the right and a bunch of trees to the left. Take a 3 wood, it will pay to be shorter off the tee. If you land to the right the green can be unsighted. To the left there are trees and potentially no sight of the green. It’s handicap 2 for this reason. 

Hole 13. 458 meters, par 5, handicap 6

My handicap 1. A good drive off the tee will clear the gully infront of you. Your second shot is just as tricky, another gully cuts into the fairway on the right. It eats balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like hole 6, your first two shots are important if you are to beat this hole.

Hole 14. 289 meters, par 4 handicap 18

Like all holes on this course there is a degree of difficulty you have to manage. Drive well and the hole is easy. Go right from the tee and the ball is gone. No rescue. No second shot. Gone. Go left and you hit trees. 

Hole 15. 376 meters, par 4 handicap 8

The big driving hole. Lots of space left and right. You can be caught by the bunker placed mid fairway but that’s as tricky as this hole gets. 

Hole 16. 140 meters, par 3 handicap 16

A few years ago the water played to the left. You now tee off over the water to the green. Those who are spooked by water, play an old ball. 

Hole 17. 350 meters, par 4 handicap 12

Another good driving hole. Go left for what you will see as the obvious reasons. The second shot is up hill, so play a longer club. Just don’t go right on any part of this hole as the ground falls away down a hill into messy rough. 

Hole 18.335 meters, par 4 handicap 14

If you are still with me, well done. 

From the tee you are looking up hill. If you are in a buggy ‘nice’, but if you are walking just think of the beer that’s got your name on it in the 19th. I aim left up hill, it’s a nicer way in from the left than playing out of trees on the right. A decent drive should leave you with a shortish iron to get on to the green.

That’s it. 

Los Arqueros is a lovely course to play. It’s got character. You could imagine Señor

Ballesteros designing the course with a smile on his face knowing it will catch out and reward the golfer in so many different ways. 

Don’t take my word for it, go play it and see if you agree.

Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club
Ctra. Ronda A-397 km 44,5, E-29679 Benahavís, Málaga, Spain
Phone: +34 952 78 46 00

Fax: +34 952 78 67 07