Sotogrande beach lifeBy James Stewart, 01 Jun 2016
Spaniards love the beach and long days and evenings spent there are part of the Andalucian culture. Last weekend, it only needed a sudden change in the weather from a wet, horrible weekend in mid-May to find full beach bars and restaurants (chiringuitos) two weeks later. A Spanish family’s visit to the beach will normally start around noon, so if you want peace and tranquility an early visit will often provide an almost empty beach at a time when the sun is not at its scorching hottest.
Perfect! The family will come armed with sunshades, foldable chairs and even a tent if it looks like being windy. They are out in force; Mum and Dad, the Grandparents (with Granny providing the tapas) the kids and the almost inevitable baby who becomes the centre of attention to all around. There is nothing like a baby to get a conversation going in Andalucia and whoever it is it will be declared the most beautiful baby of all time with a future secure on the front of Vogue magazine. It becomes a social gathering with fun had by all and if the tapas aren’t enough the assembled company will adjourn to the local ‘chiringuito’ for a lunch of grilled fish and ‘tinto de verano’ by which time it is most of the rest of Europe’s mid-afternoon. By the time the party drifts back to the beach it is time for a late siesta under the sunshades and then a swim to wake everybody up again before a final evening drink.
Sotogrande beach life is enjoyed to the full and in the last few years a number of really good ‘chiringuitos’ have opened on beaches in and neighbouring Sotogrande. The big Torreguadiaro beach was partially neglected until relatively recently but now it is clean and orderly. On the main beach you can enjoy Chambao and Bahía Limón.
Both are comfortable offering beach beds for €7 for the day and really good food, wine and mojitos to set the mood. Further along the beach is Agustin’s fish restaurant where you can sit and watch the sardines being grilled on the spit and in the village itself, and just up some steps from the beach, is Trasmallo which many consider to have the best fish at the best value in the whole area. In the big bay (Cala de las Sardinas), which follows the coast from Torreguadiaro, is a really special ‘chiringuito’ called Cai which is run by Antonela with her mother, Sylvia, doing the excellent cooking. It is actually a lovely spot to escape to if you want a lunchtime break from the office during the week when, late July and August apart, it is quiet and very restful. The trouble is forcing yourself back to the office later. In Sotogrande itself, there is Gigi’s on the beach of Puerto Sotogrande, which attracts many Sotogrande residents and their friends who have known Gigi and her parents, Candida and Gerald, for many years. Gigi’s is fun and again offers really good food.
The jewel in Sotogrande’s crown is El Trocadero which smart, comfortable and beautifully decorated. It is effectively Sotogrande’s Beach Club, having being created from the old and almost crumbling El Cucurrucho and it has a huge children’s area with an enormous swimming pool. Here there is a more informal atmosphere with an easy menu and later in the day entertainment is provided for the kids. El Cucurrucho was part of Sotogrande’s heritage as it sat next to the original and world famous polo field which was literally right on the beach. It was bang opposite Real Sotogrande Golf Club and is still home to the Sotogrande Tennis Centre. However, a tinge of ‘Marbella’, which after all Sotogrande perhaps needs, is now evident in El Trocadero; a touch of ‘glam’ has never done any harm and with the beautiful lighting at night it is a romantic place to have dinner overlooking the ocean and then to staying on having a drink with friends to the early hours of the morning.
We lucky people who live in a property in Sotogrande all the time forget that we must be the envy of hundreds of millions as every day we drive along the Mediterranean Sea and cast a cursory glance at the beaches without giving a second thought to our good fortune. Spaniards love the beach, we all love the beach and Sotogrande offers the very best on this wonderful stretch of Mediterranean coastline.