Written by Sally Veall,
Last Modified: 20th August 2020

Spain is famous world over for its wonderful climate and coastline. But not everyone wants to laze around on a beach! For the more active of us –and those taking up a new hobby in retirement – Spain’s waters offer every kind of water sport imaginable.

From surfing to snorkling, diving to rafting and jet skiing to kayaking, you can indulge in your favourite sport or try an adventuous new one. It’s not just Spain’s beaches either. Move a little inland where property prices are generally cheaper and you have everything from white water rafting to canyoning. 

Here are a few ideas of where to look for property with a new sporting adventure on the doorstep…

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Sailing, Mallorca

If you’ve ever hung out with the beautiful people (and Spanish royalty) at Portals Nous, you’ll know that the yachties just love Mallorca! There are enough top-class marinas around the capital, Palma de Mallorca, and the eastern end of the island to keep you busy sailing for a lifetime. If you ever do get bored, just pop over to Menora, Ibiza or even Barcelona.

If you need to raise the money to buy in Spain, read our brand new guide, How to pay for a Spanish property.

Mallorca is a very liveable island, with almost everywhere within an hour or so’s drive from the airport just outside Palma. The city has its own beaches and there are five golf courses as well as sports, tennis and cricket clubs galore. But it really does specialise in sailing – as well as power boating. With such an active expat scene you’ll never be short of a crewing opportunity once you’ve made a few friends. You might want to get a basic qualification first though, and there are several sailing courses for the beginner.

A cooling break from sailing off the coast off Spain

And when you disembark, your wobbly legs can take you round the glorious city, its cathedral and Moorish old town. It has excellent shopping, restaurants and nightlife to suit today’s younger royals too. Getting around the island is easy and there are many lovely places to explore outside the capital. The easy going lifestyle suits most people as does the Mediterranean climate. Read more about the amazing appeal of Mallorca here.

With such an active expat scene you’ll never be short of a crewing opportunity once you’ve made a few friends

Property is expensive compared to most other regions, especially in Palma and with a sea view. An average two-bedroom ground floor apartment with patio will have an asking price of €300,000-plus. You’ll need a starting budget of €650,000 for a four-bedroom detached house with garden and pool.

Stand-up paddle-boarding, Mar Menor

The warm, shallow, sheltered lagoon that makes up the Mar Menor (“little sea”) is perfect for learning a new watersport. It gets windy, so windsurfing and sailing are certainly a great option, but stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP), is all the rage right now.

SUP is easy to learn (easier than sailing or surfing at any rate) and affordable. You can also strap on a seat and convert your board to a kayak, and deflate it at the end of the day so it won’t take up half the garage!

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in the Mediterranean

The Mar Menor and La Manga, the strip of land that separates it from the Mediterranean, is an affordable and popular choice for property buyers, whether they’re moving to Spain full time or buying a holiday home. Apartments start at just €60,000.

Surfing, Northern Spain and Lanzarote

For body boarding, you can sometimes get enough of a wave in the Med, but serious surfers head to the Atlantic coast. The west coast of Lanzarote, especially around Playa de Famara, enjoys high, long-breaking waves, with an authentic relaxed surf culture too, very different from the east of the island.

Property in Lanzarote is reasonably priced and the island is small enough that you can live anywhere and still head out west when you want to surf.

waterside homes in Spain

Surfing in Lanzarote, just one of several great surf locations in Spain

The other great option is north-west Spain. You have over 800 kilometres of coast to choose from between San Sebastian and Vigo, much of it offering wonderful surfing. So it really comes down to budget and preference. The eastern section closest to France has among the most expensive homes in Spain, and plenty of tourists in summer. Head towards Galicia and the lifestyle and tourist offering is less sophisticated, but so are property prices.

The best surfing is reckoned to be around Mundaka, close to Bilbao.

Jetski, Isla Canela, Andalusia

Located very close to the Portuguese border, Isla Canela, is at the mouth of the Guadiana River and is set within an area of pleasant coastal scenery with wide, sandy beaches, dunes and salt marshes. The beach of fine, golden sand stretches for seven kilometres and the island has a golf club and marina. The commercial centre offers bars, restaurants and excellent shopping.

Many water sports are enjoyed here, in particular Jetski, with many routes around the coast and on the river. This pastime can be dangerous but there is a company specialising in training and excursions so that everyone can get involved. Other watersports are also available such as canoeing, motor boats, fishing and diving are available in the area as well as land based tennis.

The climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers and is an all year round destination. The area is well known for fish, especially grilled sardines and deep fried squid.

A modern two-bedroom apartment with lift, garden and shared pool costs €185,000 and a four-bedroom townhouse €275,000.

Diving, Salou, Catalonia

Salou, on the under-rated Costa Daurada, is popular for numerous reasons. One being it is less than 12 kilometres from Reus Airport and it too has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Salou has some pretty tree-lined streets and excellent beaches for the whole family. Port Aventura theme park is just a stone’s throw away. Nine of the local beaches have received multiple awards with two being Blue Flag beaches. The town also has some beautiful parks, including Parc de la Ciutat (Town Park) where you can picnic or just wander.

All the watersports are represented in Salou but scuba diving is one of the most popular. There are companies which specialise in diving and can give lessons, even to the very young. You might though prefer to stay on terra firma, in which case you can also enjoy trekking and quad biking. For those who love the water, canoeing, diving, snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking or windsurfing are all available.

Fish dominates the menus in Salou but there are plenty of places to eat which kids will enjoy and it is definitely a 12 month-of-the-year town with plenty going on in winter.

A two-bedroom apartment in central Salou with shared pool will cost €119,000 and a townhouse with four bedrooms and a pool in the centre €450,000.

For endless summer fun, Why not pool your resources and buy with family? Read Buying Abroad with Family and discover how to halve the cost and double the fun!

Canoeing, Santoña, Cantabria

We’re heading up to the north west of Spain for our next adventurous watersport. Just 45 minutes from Santander is the town of Santoña with two distinct districts, one on the urban plain and the other in the mountains. Santoña has a wonderful market and a marina. Its “raison d’être” is the sea and all things maritime and it boasts a fine port which was particularly important during the 18th century. Anchovies are its best known produce which are available to savour throughout the town. The quiet and sheltered Blue Flag beach of Playa de Berria is popular with surfers and is surveyed by lifeguards.

Canoeing is a great past time and you could spend the day on a trip to the famous caves in Ramales de la Victoria or down the Ason River while stopping for lunch in a local restaurant. Or you could go horse riding or take a walk on one of the many trails in the area.

Victoria airport is 49 kilometres from Santoña and Santander airport is 74 kilometres.

A two-bedroom apartment with lift cost from €100,000 and a four-bedroom detached house with a garden and garage would cost from €200,000.

A kayak is the best way to reach parts of inland Spain

Rafting, Cieza, Murcia

Most people moving to Murcia head for the coast but there is plenty going on inland to keep life interesting. Cieza is situated in the north of the region with a population of around 35,000 and lies on the Segura river. Peaches and olives are the main crops and tourism is one of the main industries.

Watersport is a big thing here with rafting on the Segura the most popular with wonderful rural scenery to enjoy on the way down. The river has areas of rapids, descents of dams and calm waters where you can enjoy a refreshing swim. In the centre of the of the Almadenes canyon is the Quípar swamp where you can SUP paddle (stand up paddle) and visit coves and islands in the reservoir.

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Cieza has been occupied by many different peoples and its culture reflects them all. There is a British community in the town and The Cieza Forum website in English. The climate is continental with hot summers and short, cold winters. There are 2 airports which serve Cieza, San Javier Murcia and Alicante International Airport, both are about 74 kms from the town.

€104,000 buys a two-bedroom apartment with lift and balcony while you will need €160,000 to buy a four-bedroom townhouse with balcony.

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