Walking the Cami de Ronda along the Costa Brava coastline

Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - Port Bo arcades

I have only been to mainland Spain once before, and that was over 25 years ago, so I really didn’t know what to expect from the coastline here. I came with the usual stereotypical ideas of what places like Benidorm would be like: all high rise hotels, English breakfasts and over-development, but I didn’t know whether they would turn out to be true and had no idea what delights or horrors the rest of the country would hold. Our first few weeks here on the Costa Brava had been spent staying in or near the big resorts of Roses and L’Estartit with their long swathes of soft sand backed by hotels and apartment blocks. The resorts were quiet because the peak season was over and the beaches were clean and all but deserted. Nice as these were though, I hoped to find a less developed Spain, somewhere a little less built up and a little more natural: something that lived up to its name of Costa Brava or ‘rugged coast’ I was beginning to think that this sort of area just didn’t exist anymore, but I was wrong.

Cami de Ronda

The Cami de Ronda is a path that runs all along the Costa Brava coast. It was originally built to allow the coves and bays of this area to be patrolled and to make it easier to spot and stop smugglers. It links up with other coastal paths to make up the GR92 that runs pretty much the length of Spain.

Cami de Ronda - steps down to Aiguablava beach
Cami de Ronda: Aiguablava beach

Researching the Cami de Ronda online, I wanted to find a short-ish section of walk that we could do as a family. However, I struggled to find the information I needed. I particularly wanted to know the state of the path itself: one of our group isn’t good with heights and doesn’t do well with paths that are too close to the cliff edge, especially if they have uneven footing or don’t have a good handrail. I found lots of information saying how beautiful and stunning the scenery was and telling me there was a great walk between point a and point b, but nothing more detailed. So, my blog post is partly written to show you that the more natural coastline of Spain does exist in some places, but also to provide detailed information and photographs for anyone else who might be in the same position as us and want to know more about the state of the path.

We did two short walks: the first from Platja Fonda to Aiguablava (just south of Begur) and back; and the second along the string of coves near to Callela de Pallafrugel – Canadell, Port Bo and El Port Pelegri.

Platja Fonda to Aiguablava

Our first problem for this walk was working out where to park since many of the roads in this area are steep, narrow and winding and it is not the sort of area you can just park at the side of the road. We managed to find a free car park at the top of Carrer Plaja Fonda in Fornells, just south of Begur, which at this time of year (early November) was empty.

Cami de Ronda - Platja Fonda
Cami de Ronda: the steep steps down to Platja Fonda. It is quite a way down – on the bottom right you can just see Andy coming down the cliffside

From the car park we passed through a narrow opening onto a path alongside some houses and then had the choice to turn left towards Fonda beach or right towards Aiguablava. Initially we headed for Fonda beach, where a long narrow flight of steps leads down to a dramatic cove with dark grey cliffs on each side, highlighted with some bright orange streaks. It was beautiful and we had the atmospheric dark grey beach to ourselves.

Cami de Ronda - Platja Fonda
Cami de Ronda: looking down on the dark sand of Fonda beach. We had it all to ourselves, which was wonderful!

We climbed back up from the beach and retraced our steps to the original path and followed the signs for Aiguablava, our ultimate destination.

This whole section of the Cami de Ronda was extremely well maintained and signposted. As well as the actual signposts, you follow the parallel red and white stripes which are painted on walls at the side of the path all along the route. If you take a wrong turn, you will see the red and white stripes in the form of a cross to tell you that you have strayed from the path.

Cami de Ronda - route markings and signposts
Cami de Ronda: the route is extremely well marked, both with signposts and with painted way-markers on walls along the path in the form of parallel red and white stripes. If you have taken a wrong turn, you will see the red and white stripes in the shape of a cross.

We passed a seawater swimming pool and a series of tiny coves and inlets before reaching Port ses Orats. The path then takes you down to divine Cala Malaret, with its pretty beach and crystal clear water.

Cami de Ronda - seawater pool
Cami de Ronda: a seawater pool and a tiny cove on the first section of the walk from Platja Fonda towards Aiguablava. You can see here how good the path is.
Cami de Ronda - Cala Malaret
Cami de Ronda: beautiful little Cala Malaret! Every so often, you can take a detour off the main path and follow steep steps down to explore or rest a while in one of the sublime little coves along this stretch of coastline. And because it was November, we had them all to ourselves, which was perfect!

The Cami de Ronda winds its way along the coast, sometimes getting closer, sometimes further away from the shoreline. At times we felt like we were walking through someone’s back yard as the narrow steps wound up and down between the houses. After Cala Malaret, the path descended through a dark tunnel that then opened out into a lovely covered section with big ‘windows’ cut in the side.

Cami de Ronda - tunnels
Cami de Ronda: It was quite exciting to go down through tunnels and along covered sections of the walk between Cala Malaret and the beach at Port d’Esclanya.
Cami de Ronda - sections of the walk
Cami de Ronda: some sections of the walk feel like you are passing through people’s back yards!

Shortly after this you descend to Port d’Esclanya, with its pebbly beach, following which the path climbs steeply again. This section was the trickiest of the whole walk: tree roots and stones made it quite uneven under foot and in places it passed quite close to the edge with only a small, low handrail between you and a sheer drop. You are rewarded though with yet more breathtaking views and then finally the delights of Aiguablava with its cluster of small restaurants framing the edge of the beach. It must get busy in the summer as it would be a perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely meal and take a dip, but today the sea was emerald green and the beach deserted.

Cami de Ronda - Port d'Esclanya
Cami de Ronda: Port d’Esclanya beach and the view from the cliffs just beyond
Cami de Ronda - Aiguablava beach
Cami de Ronda: divine Aiguablava with its cluster of small restaurants framing the beach

It took us about 2 hrs to walk from Fonda beach to Aiguablava beach and back again, but we did stop to explore and descend to virtually every unspoiled cove along the way. The path was paved and very well maintained for virtually all of the section that we walked, with handrails and/or walls between you and the cliffs. The only bit that was a bit more rugged was the last section between Port d’Esclanya and Aiguablava beaches, where the path was a little more uneven (but in no way dangerous!)

Cami de Ronda - Aiguablava emerald green water
Cami de Ronda: the emerald green water at Aiguablava beach was simply stunning!

We skimmed stones, were mesmerised by the patterns the light made on the water and enjoyed the shade from the pine trees clinging to the rocky outcrops. As we rounded each headland, there was yet another spectacular view and I really did feel that I had found what I had been looking for.

Calella de Palafrugell and around

The second walk we did was much shorter and was more of a stroll. It was not as dramatic, but was just as picturesque. We parked on the Passeig de la Torre next to Canadell beach near the centre of Calella de Palafrugel. Once again, at this time of year we had no trouble finding a parking space.

Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - Canadell beach2
Cami de Ronda: view of Canadell beach at the start of our walk
Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - Canadell Beach
Cami de Ronda: looking back along Canadell beach in Calella de Palafrugell

This part of the coastline is made up of a string of small, pretty beaches, separated by rocky points. Unlike the bigger resorts up and down the coast, it is all very low key. These were once fishing communities and they have maintained some of the simplicity and charm of days gone by. We walked along lovely Canadell beach first and then on towards picture-postcard Port Bo, which used to be a fishing and coastal trade harbour. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they used to ship local products like coral, wheat, wine and cork from here to other ports in Spain, or to France or Italy.

Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - Port Bo
Cami de Ronda: another view of the delightful beach at Port Bo.

Give yourself plenty of time here – you will want to stop a while as it is just so perfect. There are fishing boats hauled up on the sand and a delightful whitewashed arcade along the front, with little restaurants nestled under the arches, overlooking the beach.

Cami de Ronda - Port Bo - Calella de Palafrugell - fishing boats
Cami de Ronda: fishing boats hauled up onto the sand on Port Bo beach

After Port Bo, the path climbs up slightly, passing above the tiny shaded cove of Platgeta d’en Cosme and out onto a rocky promontory before reaching El Port Pelegri beach, with its dive centre, both overlooked by the delightful-looking Hotel Mediterrani The views back towards Port Bo from here are breathtaking!

Cami de Ronda - Platgeta d'en Cosme
Cami de Ronda: the tiny, shaded cove of Platgeta d’en Cosme between Port Bo and El Port Pelegri beaches
Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - El Port Pelegri
Cami de Ronda: El Port Pelegri beach with its dive centre, overlooked by the delightful-looking Hotel Mediterrani
Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell - Port Bo
Cami de Ronda: looking back towards the old fishing village of Port Bo from the rocky promontory between it and El Port Pelegri

You could go on walking for mile after mile on this stretch of coast, discovering more and more sublime coves and amazing vistas. But we decided that we wanted to stop and enjoy the peace and solitude of these beautiful bays. We sat out on one of the rocky outcrops, taking in the views and contemplating life and what we are all here for. It was a magical afternoon where the sun was shining, the children played happily, no-one was rushed and we all spent time quietly with our own thoughts. Pure heaven!

Cami de Ronda - Calella de Palafrugell
Cami de Ronda: relaxing and taking it easy on the rocks and the beach near Port Bo in Calella de Palafrugell
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4 thoughts on “Walking the Cami de Ronda along the Costa Brava coastline

    1. Thanks Liz! Yes, it was wonderful and so perfect because it was deserted – I’m not sure I’d have liked it in the summer with lots of other people around! Definitely a coastline to get your imagination going! Xx

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  1. wow Sarah, that looks just my sort of place. Were all the cafes and restaurants closed at this time in the year? From the photos it looks as though no one is living there at the moment. Beautiful scenery and so peaceful. Lovely blog. Thank you. X

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    1. Thanks Mum. It was deserted but there were a few cafes open alongside the beaches on the second walk. The hotel Mediterrani that I mentioned was closed though. It was a Saturday and there were a few Spanish families out for a stroll, all wrapped up in winter coats and boots! I must say I love it when it is quiet like this! Xx

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