Not all kids, or parents for that matter, see a beach holiday as an opportunity to do nothing for a week or two, some kids are looking for something more… much more. So if you’ve got the kind of brood that arrives at a sunshine resort and instantly scouts around for activities to fill their days then you’re going to love Benalmádena.
Set on Spain’s sunshine coast, the Costa del Sol – just along the shore from Torremolinos – the pretty old town and modern coastal resort of Benalmádena not only offer a vast range of activities, but more than their fair share of theme parks too. Families attracted to the upmarket resort by its variety of excellent beaches (it has around ten), a quaint old town, a cable car up Calamorro Mountain, and glamorous marina with excellent seafood restaurants, will find more than they expected here.
Hit the Beach
With a variety of beaches to choose from (including the beautiful Blue Flag Santa Ana Beach), active families will also love Torre Bermeja and Playa de Arroyo de la Miel with their wide range of water sports. You and the kids can try everything from the high-octane jet skis, water skiing and inflatable rides to parasailing and scuba diving. On dry land you could try out the beach volley ball and beach football pitches.
Theme Park Heaven
Yet despite all this action and water-packed fun – if your kids are anything like mine – then what they’re really going to remember about Benalmádena are the theme parks. Yes, that’s parks, plural, because this lovely little holiday spot has a range of parks in close vicinity. If you want to visit them all during your stay then you’ll need to plan ahead, so here is my guide to the best of what’s on offer.
A theme park and fun fair all rolled into one, Tivoli World is a great place to head to after dark so you and the kids can face your fears in Spain’s scariest haunted house! There are tonnes of rides and stalls to keep you all entertained and, once you’ve worked up an appetite, lots of great restaurants to relax in. Make sure you check out the live entertainment, some of the shows were really good when we were there.
Just 10 minutes along the coast in Torremolinos is the Costa del Sol’s largest water park, Aqualand. This vast area dedicated to fun and water is well worth spending a whole day in. There’s everything you and the kids could want from lazy rivers to insane rollercoaster-like slides which plunge you into refreshing pools. You might even be brave enough to take on the horrifying Kamikaze ride (I wasn’t!).
My kids loved watching the marine life at Selwo Marina, from acrobatic shows by the well-cared for dolphins to feeding time for the sea lions whose twists and turns under water are something to behold. If you’re looking for something a little more interactive then you can invest in a ‘dolphin encounter’ or a swim with the sea lions, there’s even a backstage pass to the penguin enclosure, but you’ll need to wrap up warm.
Budding marine biologists – or just kids with an interest in the fascinating creatures which live beneath the sea – will love the Sealife Aquarium. With more than 2,000 species of marine life there’s plenty to see here but make sure you visit on a day when they demonstrate the shark feeding for a bit of added drama. Other sights to take in as you wander through the underwater tunnels include: giant turtles, a huge octopus and sea rays.
Okay, this isn’t high-octane excitement but I couldn’t leave it off the list because it’s such a unique experience. Set in what looks like a Thai temple (I’m not sure why), the butterfly park houses more than 150 species of butterfly, making up a population of 1,500 of the delicate creatures. The park allows you to walk through their habitat, and you have to be careful as they land on you for a brief spell before fluttering off on their way. It really is quite magical.
How to Get to Benalmádena
There are more than 160 flights offered by nine major airlines to the town’s nearest airport of Málaga, each week from the UK, so getting there is no problem. The transfer time from the airport to Benalmádena is a welcome 15 minutes, so once you’ve landed after your two hour 40 minute flight, you and your family will be at your accommodation before you know it. Take all the hassle out of finding transport at the airport by booking an airport transfer online with Shuttle Direct before you leave home: that way a driver will be waiting for you when you land ready to drive you wherever you want to go.
Where to Stay
Vincci Selección Aleysa, Hotel Boutique & Spa – Enjoy a little coastal elegance at the Vincci Selección Aleysa, Hotel Boutique & Spa with its stylish décor and beachfront location. This five star hotel has family rooms and a great pool and sun terrace for when you don’t want to step across the promenade to the beach. There’s also a fantastic spa to unwind in at the end of the day.
Hotel Betania – The cosy Spanish charm of the two-star Hotel Betania is a great base, just three-minutes’ walk from the beach. There’s a small pool and sun terrace on site and free wifi in the public areas. If you want to get out and about the hotel offers bicycle rental for an additional charge.
First Flatotel International – If you’re looking for self-catering then the stylish, spacious apartments at First Flatotel International, just a minute’s walk from the beach, are a great choice. With a restaurant, swimming pool, terrace and beach bar downstairs, and kitchenettes in the apartments, you get the flexibility to have the kind of holiday you want.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of airport transfers across Europe and northern Africa. Choose from premium luxury or standard private car service. Or, if you’re travelling with a group, a range of comfortable group transfer options.