Holidays here on the Costa del Sol are about so much more than just sun, sea and sangria. ‘Activities’ are all about getting involved and the region is positively bursting with opportunities to have some ‘alternative’ fun with a vast array of sports facilities, venues and attractions all designed to tempt you out of that deckchair and into ‘active’ mode. Here are just a few of the possibilities you may – or may not – have considered…
In the exciting ski resort of Sierra Nevada, just over 90 minutes drive from Club La Costa World. Beginners and intermediates especially will enjoy the wide, sunny pistes, high above the tree line, and with mountains as high as 3,478m (11,411ft) snow is virtually guaranteed between late November and April. 24 lifts and tows serve over 100km of groomed pistes and 390 snowcannons ensure good snow coverage on 31km of the runs. Is there anywhere other than the Costa del Sol where you can actually ski in the morning and enjoy a late lunch on the beach in the afternoon?
Watch professional football…
Less than 30 minutes from the resort is La Rosaleda stadium, home to Malaga CF, the only team in La Liga to play their home matches on the Costa del Sol. Although the fixtures against Real Madrid and Barcelona are almost always sold out months in advance, fans of Spanish football can easily take in a home game while on holiday during the football season, with tickets available for purchase at the ground on match days. And English speakers needn’t worry because the club enjoys a huge following of British residents, so there will be plenty of familiar accents around and stadium announcements and match programmes are in both Spanish and English.
Take to the ice!
Yes, it does seem unlikely on the Costa del Sol, but you may be surprised to find that the region’s one and only ice rink is located in the popular holiday town of Benalmadena, about 20 minutes from Club La Costa World. The 900m2 indoor rink is part of a new sports centre which also offers two indoor swimming pools, a gymnasium and a cafeteria. The family-friendly ‘Club de Hielo’ skating centre is the ideal escape from the summer heat, and also a great place to spend an evening during the cooler holiday months. Lessons are available and, for safety on the ice, all skaters must wear socks, gloves and long trousers. Children under 12 must also be accompanied on the ice by an adult.
With over 300 days of sunshine every year, Andalucia has the perfect climate for playing tennis and there are concrete and clay courts everywhere on the Costa del Sol, including at Club La Costa World. Most tennis clubs are happy to welcome visitors and many also encompass other racquet sports, including squash and the very popular ‘padel’ – a combination of squash and tennis played outdoors. For a different holiday experience, watch out for adverts promoting professional tournaments and exhibition events featuring big-name players.
If shotguns and air rifles are just a little bit too real and unsettling, yet you still fancy the thrill of the ‘shoot ‘em up’ video games transferred to the great outdoors, there is a paintballing centre just a 20-minute drive north of Marbella. Set in a hidden valley in the stunning Sierra de las Nieves mountains, the gaming area covers 50,000m2 of rough country terrain, with props to resemble a film set – and some movie-like surprises in store! Paintball-Marbella.com also offers canyoning, buggy and quad biking safaris, Land Rover safaris and a unique self-drive roller coaster for 4x4s. Phew! After all that, you’ll need a day on the beach to recover…
Take a hike.
For those who enjoy some serious walking on holiday, there is an almost unlimited amount of fun and enjoyment to be had just a few kilometers from the Club La Costa World resort. The Sierra de Mijas mountain range – stretching from Alhaurin to Mijas and across to Benalmadena – offers a network of decent paths with good way-marking and makes for an ideal day out in the magnificent Spanish countryside for all levels of walker. The tourist office in Mijas will provide advice on start points and trail maps are available in English.
Just a few miles further down the coast is the ultimate Costa del Sol walking challenge – La Concha – which, at 3986 ft/1215 m, is the iconic mountain that can be seen from almost anywhere within a 5km radius of the celebrities’ favourite town of Marbella. The start point is near to the hotel ‘Refugio de Juanar’, a 10km drive through stunning scenery to the north west of the pretty white village of Ojen. Trail maps are available upon request from the hotel. Note: this is not an easy hike and may be unsuitable for beginners. It will take between 6 and 7 hours to get up and down, but fit, confident walkers will be rewarded by unbeatable, breathtaking 360º views from the summit, which is sure to be an unforgettable holiday experience.
Get ‘wet and wild’…
After all, what’s a Spanish beach without watersports? Almost every Costa del Sol beach offers at least one type of activity during the peak season, and mainstream options, such as surfing and windsurfing, carry on throughout the winter months too. The latest trend is kite surfing – a spectacular combination of kite flying and windsurfing – and there are boats offering parascending, water skiing, banana rides and ringos, as well as jet skis for hire. For those who like to go wild underwater, the coast has a number of reputable scuba diving schools offering diving trips and courses.
Drive… very fast.
OK, so it’s not the cheapest day out! But if you’ve always dreamed of driving a top-end road car – or even a full-on racing car – on a proper circuit, then Circuito Ascari is the place for you! Located near Ronda – about an 80-minute drive from Club La Costa World – the motor racing club offers a VIP racing experience with insurance, all materials and professional instruction included. If ‘top-end’ is not what you’re looking for, how about go-karting? The new 970m ‘Karting Mijas’ track adjacent to the Mijas horse racing track, just a few minutes drive from the resort, rents karts for individuals (from 10 years old) and groups, with tuition included.
Malaga Football Club picture credit: a pie de campo