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Destination — Buerto Banus, Marbella, Spain

Puerto Banus is located in the southwest part of the city of Marbella on the Costa del Sol.  It began as a small village when in 1970 a local developer José Banus built it as a luxury marina and destination for the wealthy (Mr. Banus had a hand in designing Beverly Hills).  Since then it has grown into a resort complex with a reputation as a magnet for the rich and famous and a high-end shopping mecca.  It is now one of the largest entertainment centres on the Costa del Sol with five million visitors a year.

Puerto Banus is definitely a party-fueled destination, especially in the summer, and the restaurants, alfresco bars, clubs and shops keep the party going until dawn. The marina is swarming with millionaires, yachts and exotic cars… the perfect place to see and be seen.

The climate here is sub-tropical Mediterranean with hot summers and warm winters.  The moderating effects of the Mediterranean make the heat bearable. Temperatures average 32 ºC in summer with highs up to 40 and an average temperature of 18 ºC all year round.

Must Try Restaurants

Given that Puerto Banus is a luxury destination it’s no surprise that the food is extraordinary and encompasses an international palate.  Here are a few selections from the extensive cuisine.

El Carnicero — specializes in charcoal barbecue grilled meat and meat cooked on hot stones.   Fondue for two is also featured.  Cozy and charming, decorated with wood panelling.  Located in the San Pedro de Alcántara township in Estepona.

Tangos Restaurant — serves up Argentinean cuisine.  The focus is on flamed grilled meat and the filet is highly recommended.  A lively atmosphere and an extensive wine list.

Casamono Brasserie — is a highly regarded and popular French brasserie located on the corner close to the Piruli roundabout.   The décor is light and airy, full of wooden furniture and ferns.  At night the room is warmly lit with legions of candles.  The menu features fresh local ingredients masterfully prepared in the French style.  The extensive menu includes a long cocktail list and a pudding menu.

Jaipur Purple — Highly recommended as the best authentic Indian food in the Puerto Banus area.  Specializes in Tandoori prepared in clay charcoal ovens.

Infuschia — is located within the Tibu Banus nightclub and offers an extensive pan-Asian menu including sushi, Teppanyaki table and a dim-sum bar.  The food is generally light but more substantial dishes are available including sweet sirloin steak, king tiger prawns in chilli and garlic, yakitori chicken and fillet of sea bass with pak choi.  A set menu is available for parties of six or more.

Delectable Local Cuisine

The food of Spain is diverse and differs substantially from region to region so it’s logical that the cuisine of southern Spain is distinct from other areas in Spain.

Agricultural crops in south Spain include fruit (citrus), olives, nuts and vegetables (tomatoes, spinach, brocolli, avocado, peppers) that are enjoyed locally as well as exported.  The Atlantic and Mediterranean are great sources of seafood and the proximity to North African imparts Arab influences to the cuisine.

The restaurants in Puerto Banus are international in scope, as is the culture.  Virtually any main-stream food in the world is available in restaurants here, however, southern Spanishish cuisine is also readily available.

Gazpacho is a wonderful fresh summer dish.  Three versions, red, green and white, all start as a base made from bread, garlic, vinegar, salt and olive oil.  Red gazpacho gets its color from tomatoes, green from vegetables like cucumber and green pepper, and white is made with crushed almonds.

Andalusian air-dried hams are local and exceptionally good.  The nutty flavour of the hams comes from the black-footed brown iberico pigs that graze on acorns in the hills.

Chorizo is a “sweet” or “spicy”, fermented cured pork sausage frequently used in soups, stews, egg dishes or in chunks for Tapas… differs in flavour from Mexican or the Caribbean types.

Tortilla Española is an omelet dish similar to a frittata and made with potatoes, onions and olive oil all bound together by eggs.   It can be eaten warm, but more traditionally it is cut into small chunks for tapas and enjoyed at room temperature.

Tapas are small savoury dishes served as a snack with drinks or with other tapas as a meal.  Tapas is thought to have been created in Seville as long ago as the 13th century and are still popular dishes in Andaluisa and beyond.  Commonly eaten with a drink standing up at the bar or at small tables, they traditionally include familiar Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil, garlic, seafood and pork.

Because Spain is a maritime country, fresh fish is common on menus.  Pescaito Frito, is fresh fried fish — generally whatever fresh fish the restaurant has on hand that day.  Drizzled with lemon juice… delicious.

Huevos a la Flamenca are eggs baked in a terracotta dish with vegetables, ham and chorizo sausage.  The over-easy egg is place in the middle of the sausage and vegetables which line the outside.

Must See Local Attractions

Chances are that most visitors to Puerto Banus are focussed on activities revolving around the beaches, the party scene, shopping, the marina and/or golf.  Certainly there are rich opportunities here for sun, sea, sand and shopping, but the area has many cultural, historical and natural attractions as well.

The Ocean Club, one of the largest and most luxurious beach-side venues in Europe, is located in the heart of Puerto Banus right on the beach.  The centrepiece of the complex is the saltwater swimming pool surrounded by white, circular, oversized lounges shaded by coloured parasols.  The gourmet restaurant here features a French/Belgian/Mediterranean menu as well as an Asian kitchen and an extensive wine and champagne list.   Famous for its high standard of service and Champagne Spray Parties attended by the wealthy and celebrated.

West along the coast is Malaga, one of oldest cities in the world, where the The Picasso Museum is found.  It features 230 works by Picasso that represent the scope of his art as well as a library.  The museum is located in the city centre at the Buenavista Place, one of the finest examples of the Andalusian architecture circa the 16th century.

The other Picasso Museum is the Casa Natal located in the house where Pablo Picasso was born and spent his early years.  The museum offers biographical details highlighting his life and many of his paintings, ceramics, etchings and drawings.

The Nerja Caves, close to the town of Nerja in the Malaga region, are a series of caverns stretching almost five kilometres that contain many features of archaeological and natural interest including the world’s largest stalagmite, a column measuring 32 metre high and 13 metres by 7 metres at its base.  There are three enormous galleries in the caves and each contains a number of halls.  The Upper Gallery and New Gallery contain prehistoric cave paintings and natural fluted columns can be found here that produce different notes when struck.

The La Cueva del Tesoro, located in El Cantal in El Rincon de la Victoria, is one of only three caves worldwide to have been shaped by the sea.  Created during Jurassic times it contains pre-historic cave paintings.   Although they have been removed to museums, pottery, Neolithic flint tools as well as human and animal remains have been found here.   The cave is also celebrated as the rumoured location of the treasure of Ali Ibn Tasufin Almoravid an Arabian emperor of the twelfth century.

The Best Watersports, Tennis, Golf and Spas

Beaches

La Sala Beach Club, formerly Buddha Beach, is the place to see and be seen.   A swimming pool and private beach area along with a good restaurant complement the club.  Limelight beach parties happen every Thursday during the summer.

Nikki Beach is a world-brand private beach club and one of the best day venues in Puerto Banus.  A favourite of the famous and wealthy, the club features many themed party days and evenings and all the amenities you would expect at an exclusive beach club, including world class DJs.

Soul Beach is a popular and public beach.  It’s lively during the summer season, but closed during the winter.  Live music is often played and snacks that include sandwiches and hamburgers are available.  It’s opposite the children’s playground in Puerto Banus.

La Pesquera is another public beach with a Restaurant and Chiringuito (a bar/restaurant on the beach).  Sun beds and parasols are available as is beach service.  The food is straightforward hamburgers, fish, meat & salads.

laza Beach is located next to the Plaza Suites Hotel at the entrance to Puerto Banus and attracts a younger crowd who enjoy the very loud house music.  The beach restaurant is very good and offers a varied menu along with comfortable sofas and chairs.

Pedro’s Beach is a calmer, quieter beach with music at a more reasonable volume.  The food is very good.  Try the prawn pil pil, rosada, calamares, chicken or, mixed salad with its Moroccan rice.  Informal — wooden tables and steel beer keg seats.

Marina

The marina at Puerto Banus is part of the original development from 1970 and has some of the most opulent and extravagant yachts in the world.   It can accommodate up to 915 boats in its 37 acres ranging in size from 8 to 50 meters.  It’s an amazing place to stroll even if you don’t sail or boat.

Boating

The Hustler is the fastest boat most people will ever experience and is a new attraction in Puerto Banus.  This former P1 series competition boat has been converted for public enjoyment and accommodates five passengers at a time.  It`s combined 900 HP engines propel the boat and occupants across the water at speeds of up to 130 kph during 15 minutes of adrenalin fuelled excitement.  Not for those with back problems, heart conditions or high blood pressure and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is popular along the whole Costa del Sol due to the warm, clear water and abundance of marine life.  There are a number of recommended dive centres all along the coast and some interesting dives.

Two hundred meters off shore from Marbella are two submerged towers (Torre Marbella) which host a variety of marine life including eels, crabs and small octopus.  Three shipwrecks can be found nearby.

Placer de las Bovedas, a large reef that runs parallel to the shore at San Pedro de Alcäntara, is one of the best dive sites in the area and offers a wide variety of underwater life.

At Punto Atalaya, Arrecife and Las Palomas there are rocky canyons and rock formations for exploring

The dive site at Marina Bay has rocks, wrecks, octopus and eels.  Fraggle Rock, in the middle of Marina Bay, can be reached by boat or a short swim from the shore.

Gibralter is a medium length boat ride away but hosts any number of boat wrecks for exploration.

Some recommended dive centres in the area will rent equipment, offer instruction, plan excursions and offer guided tours.

Happy Divers, Marabella has an accredited dive school and offers shore diving as well as boat trips to dives sites and day excursions.

Diving Life, Marabella is open all year round with daily dive trips.

Fuengirola Diving Centre located in the marina at Fuengirola.  Free hotel pick up service and fully stocked scuba shop.

Golf

The Marabella, Puerto Banus area of the Costa del Sol is known as Costa del Golf for good reason: there are over 60 courses in the area and some of the best golf in Europe.  Here are a few challenging courses that are close by.

Los Naranjos Golf Club is a world class, Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed course and one of the best known courses near Marabella.  The course is long with plenty of raised greens that are ringed by tricky bunkers and occasional water features.

La Quinta Golf & Country Club is a luxurious, championship golf resort designed by Manuel Pinero.  Three interconnecting nine-hole courses — San Pedro, Ronda and Guadaiza offer enough variety for repeat play.   Many of the holes are quite challenging.

Santa Clara Golf, designed by Enrique Canales Busquets is one of the more exclusive courses in the Marbella area.   Greens can be challenging, but fairways are wide and a good choice for mid to high-handicap golfers.

Santa Maria Golf & Country Club winds through pine tree and oak lined valleys and offers a number of interesting water hazards and a tight front nine with a more relaxed back nine.  The club has an 18th century cortijo (farmhouse style) clubhouse for 19th hole drinks.

Tennis

Tennis is as popular as golf on the Costa del Sol for one main reason… the climate.   Tennis can be played year round here and there are many tennis clubs in and around the Marbella, Puerto Banus area.  Virtually all of the better hotels offer tennis and sports facilities but there are many private clubs as well.

Miraflores is located halfway between Marbella and Fuengirola.  Like most of the clubs in the area, it organizes round-robin tournaments on Sundays.  Just turn up and play.

Mansfield’s is a non-membership club at the Benavist complex between San Pedro and Estepona.   Five excellent courts are available for a fee and full changing and shower rooms are available as are facilities for disabled players,

Puente Romano Hotel Club offers group lessons for both children and adults.  Ten tennis courts are available.  Located between Marabella and Puerto Banus.

Water Sports

Almost all of the beaches in and around Puerto Banus offer water sports and have professional staff.  Virtually everything you can think of is available, jet skiing, kite and wind surfing, water skiing, canoeing and flyboard (a water jet platform that propels you high above the water.)

Spas

Given that Puerto Banus is a luxury destination, spas are abundant.  Almost all of the better hotels offer spa facilities as do many of the exclusive beach clubs.

The Best Time to Visit Puerto Banus

The weather in Puerto Banus is good all year round, as it is on the entire Costa del Sol.  The best weather, i.e. warm enough to swim and tan, is from May to October.  The winter months are nice as well, but evenings cool off quickly.  The busiest and hottest months are July and August when the beach party and club vibe flourishes.  May, June, September and October have the most moderate temperatures (20 to 25 degrees C), fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere.

The Flamenco Festival happens every year in June in the Puerto Banus/Marbella area.  Streets are decorated with garlands in the old town of Marbella and everyone dresses up Flamenco… bright, colourful and fun.

Popular celebrations in the Marbella/Puerto Banus area include the February carnival, Holy Week around Easter time, and the San Bernabé Fiesta and Summer Fair each June.

Also, each November, the Fiesta del Tostón (Day of Toston) is held in Marbella, a religious festival which includes many different events and plenty of parties.

Local Shopping

The shopping is extravagant in the Puerto Banus area in terms of choice, quality and price.    Many high end boutiques and designer shops can be found in the Marina area including Christian Dior, Gucci, Bvlgari, Versace, Dolce and Gabbba.  The Golden Mile stretches from the western end of Marbella to Puerto Banus and has the area’s most luxurious villas and estates as well as five star hotels and many high-end and designer boutiques.  Even more luxury shops can be found in the centre of Marbella on Avenida Ricardo Soriano.

El Corte Inglés is similar to Harrods and is Spain’s largest department store chain.  It offers more reasonable pricing.  It can be found in the heart of Antonio Banderas square within a five minute walk of the Marina.

The Old Town of Marbella has many gift shops.  It’s a fun place to explore and choose some souvenirs to take home.

The Puerto Banus street market or mercadillo (a.k.a. The Nueva Andulcia market) is near the bull ring in Nueva Andulcia (one minute from Puerto Banus) and open Saturdays.  You can find almost anything here from souvenirs to local fresh fruit vegetables, spices, clothes, shoes, local handicrafts (ceramic plates, olive dishes, linen tablecloths, fans, etc.), jewelry and more… a great family outing.

Marbella Street Market is open Mondays and the main market for the city.  It’s located in the Marbella Fair Grounds.  The San Pedro Street Market in San Pedro is open Thursday mornings.  Both markets are labyrinthine and chock full of anything you can imagine.  The atmosphere is fun and chaotic with lots of shouting food vendors.  Prices are somewhat negotiable and cheaper than the mercadillo in Puerto Banus.

The La Cañada shopping centre in Marbella is the Costa del Sol’s largest shopping mall with over 150 shops plus bars, restaurants and cinemas.

Bring the Family

Puerto Banus has so many activities for children and families the choices are almost overwhelming.

The beaches stretch for miles along the Costa del Sol.  They are safe and accessible with mild surf and clean clear water and many have amenities that include restaurants and every imaginable water sport.

In addition to its natural beauty, Costa del Sol has many other man-made attractions.

Water Parks

Parque Acuatico Mijas is compact, but well designed and is located in Fuengirola.  Appeal for children 6 to 14.

Aqualand Torremolinos is one of the largest water parks in Europe.  The variety of slides, pools and rides is a good fit for younger and older children and enjoyable for parents as well.

Zoos, wildlife and marine life

Bioparc Fuengirola is, again, small but includes tigers, leopards, gorillas, orangutans and a lemur island.

Selwo Aventura is a large safari and adventure park near Estepona.   Beautiful grounds, treks and wonderful animals.  Recommended.

Sea Life Benalmadena has the largest variety of marine life on the Costa del Sol with a giant Pacific octopus, numerous sharks, seahorses, turtles and rays.

Theme Parks

Tivoli World is the only permanent theme park on the Costa del Sol.  Lots to keep those under 13 amused, but not so much for teens.

Miscellaneous Family Outings

Fuengirola Adventure Golf with its 19-hole miniature golf course is just 20 minutes from Marbella.   Water and golf for the whole family.

Teleferico Benalmadena is a 15-minute cable car ride that takes you from Benalmadena Costa to the summit of Mt. Calamorro and offers spectacular views of the Costa del Sol.

For older children Paintball Estepona covers 27,000 square meters and has three different scenarios.

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- Exploring Marbella -

If your taste runs to perfect weather, cosmopolitan ambiance, exquisite beaches, golf and luxury, Marbella may be the ideal travel destination.  Located on the fabled Costa Del Sol, Marbella is ideally situated on 27 miles of coastline that include 24 beaches and is sheltered by foothills and mountain ranges which account for its warm but temperate climate.

Marbella is one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean and no wonder.  The area is rife with dozens of golf courses that can be played year round.  The city and nearby Puerto Banos offer spectacular local and international cuisine and the nightlife in the bars and clubs is legendary.  And then there are the beaches… miles of them with golden-brown sand and all the services and amenities.

One of the many attractions of Marbella is its golf courses.  The weather here is perfect for golf with year round average temperature hovering around 18 degrees Centigrade.  Even in the hottest months of July and August the temperature rarely exceeds 30 degrees.  Moreover, the scenery is stunning and there are a variety of 9 and 18 hole courses with varying degrees of difficulty that support all levels of play from beginner to pro.  Beautiful views of the Mediterranean are offered at Golf Rio Real, Santa Clara Golf, Cabopino Golf, Santa María Golf; Country Club, Monte Paraíso Golf, Quinta Golf; Country Club, Marbella Golf; Country and Guadalmina Golf Club.   Some of the top courses in the area with an international reputation for excellence include Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa which has a green right inside the hotel; the challenging but spectacular Las Brisas Royal Golf Club; and Los Naranjos Golf Club near Puerto Banus which is known for the diversity of its holes… each one is unique.  This list is by no means exhaustive, which gives a sense of the variety and depth of golf experiences presented in Marbella.

Of course, the beaches are what many visitors come for.   The eastern most is in Guadalmina, a pebble and dark sand beach surrounded by the Guadalmina golf course.  El Ancon beach is in Marbella but has a natural feel to it.  The food is good here and palm trees supply shade.  Another great beach is Nagueles between the Hotel Marbella Club and the Puente Romano.  You’ll find jet ski and kayak rentals here.  Fontanilla is in the centre of Marbella and, as you’d expect, has all the services.  Venus beach has a family focus where you’ll find a children’s playground.  Possibly the most famous beach in Marbella is Cable beach where there are concerts many nights and beach entertainment almost every night.  Next-door Puerto Banus has great beaches for water sports and partying.

Puerto Banus, is on the west end of Marbella and is a must-visit.  The marina here hosts some of the largest and most extravagant yachts on the Mediterranean and it’s well worth a stroll through just to see who or what is in port.  Puerto Banus is a renowned party center at night with dozens of clubs that go until dawn.  It’s also a haunt of the wealthy and celebrated and the shops and restaurants here are chic and high-end.  Most of the designer brands have boutiques near the harbour including Christian Dior, Gucci, Bvlgari, Versace and Dolce and Gabbana.

Shopping in Marbella proper is just as dazzling with all the designer names well represented.  A stroll through historic Marbella Town with its narrow, cobbled streets will introduce you to small local shops that sell exquisite jewellery, toys, soaps, olive oil, bags, scarves and artisanal glass… a charming walk and some great finds.

But there is much more to do in Marbella.  A walking tour of old Marbella Town reveals the ruins of an old Arab wall and narrow streets full of cute white houses, tiny churches, fountains, statues and quaint squares.   The Ermita del Santo Cristo, the oldest building in Marbella, dates back to the 14th century and can be found here in la Plaza del Santo Cristo.  At Guadalmina explore the old Roman Villa of Río Verde and the Roman thermal baths.   Venture into the countryside and you’ll find Wild Andalusia Nature Park: high mountains, deep ravines and the native flora and fauna of the area.  Take a drive delectable along the “Golden Mile” between Marbella and Puerto Banus and glimpse some of the most opulent villas in the area.  And if sightseeing tires, there is a cool drink and delectable food on the beaches or in the dozens of excellent restaurants nearby.

Marbella is nothing if not accommodating.  It can be sophisticated or down-to-earth; relaxing or a non-stop party; a family vacation or a romantic couples get away; a cheap and cheerful snack on the beach or the finest wines and cuisine in a trendy bistro… the beach, the mountains, the clubs, the golf courses, the shops, the beautiful people… it’s all there.  And whatever you do and wherever you go, the weather will be perfect. 

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