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Platja d'Aro and S'Agaro

Carnaval masks in Platja dAro Sometimes the Costa Brava can surprise you if you're prepared to explore.

The two main package holiday resorts to the north of Tossa are St Antoni de Calonge and Platja d'Aro. Both are built on big sandy bays and are family friendly places, but they were built as typical high-rise high-volume resorts in the 1960s and 70s.

It would be fair to say that over the year's they've mellowed - they're not party-party towns like Lloret (or Salou south of Barcelona) - but they remain package-holiday territory. 

For Costa Brava locals Platja d'Aro (known as Fenals d'Aro until the 1960s) is actually one of the main shopping areas. Unlike other towns on the Costa Brava it has more of the standard Spanish high-street shops and it has the only McDonalds (or actually any chain fast-food restaurant) north of Lloret.

For locals the alternative is the longer trek into Girona or Figueres so as a town it remains busy throughout the year and in places has a somewhat upmarket feel.

Platja dAro main beach and passeo Having said that, it is still a relatively high-rise town (though nowhere near being like Benidorm) built broadly as a strip along the beach with estates of villas behind.

Holiday makers could spend their whole vacation in the town and on the broad long beach. Which would be a pity because to the north and to the south are a couple of gems.

The northern path (we'll add this later), is a series of small bays and rocky headlands. This walk we take to the south into the estate of S'Agaro - almost the Beverley Hills of the Costa Brava, a description which might surprise those who've only driven around the areas on the road between St Feliu and Platja d'Aro.

In reality, S'Agaro is one of the oldest estates on the Costa Brava. Conceived around 1916 with construction work from the 1920s onwards it was designed and conceived as an upmarket and exclusive estate built to an architect's view of idealised Catalan mansion-villa.

The S'Agaro estate itself is gated - to get access by car you have to pass through a security check point. And it has within it the Hostal de la Gavina 5-star hotel, famous for the number of A-list of Hollywood stars that have stayed there including John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and more recent stars like the Black Eyed Peas, and is connected to several Hollywood films made on the Costa Brava in the 1950s and 1960s.

beach of La Concha just around from Platja dAro The walk itself starts in Platja d'Aro (we needed to go shopping), but if you just want to see S'Agaro and the next beaches, you could start near Port d'Aro marina.

We took the sea on the way out - a classic Spanish beach-side passeo to start with which, in summer, has bars and restaurants spilling out across the terrace from the feet of the high-rises above.

At the end of the beach, the path turns along the river Riudaro. This can be dry in summer, but in winter there is water flowing - it actually links to a pleasant lake/nature reserve that marks the split between Platja d'Aro and Port d'Aro - though the water can be a little smelly as it dries after a wet patch.

sAgaro walking path in the sun The path is now marked by the classic red-white flashes of the GR92. Don't turn back to the sea too early - you have to pass to the other side of the port, otherwise you won't be able to cross the marina's sea entrance.

The port itself was full with luxury yachts and the path takes you round the back past the new flats and houses built to match.

At the end of the port road, you final reach the woods and a headland. Across the headland and the first surprise - a long sandy beach with rocks at each end and a small rocky presque-isle in the centre - the Platja de la Concha - a classic unspoilt half-moon bay.

Steps in sAgaro We walk across the beach to the other side and then up the steps on the other side. The path is broad and specially built running past the houses of the S'Agaro estate.

To the left, the sea side is rocky with very occasional very small pebbly bays. To begin with the houses and the walls of the houses are high and you can't see anything, but as you walk towards the middle part of the path, you get a glimpse of the mansions and villas and their gardens.

A rotonda built above the sea is at one corner and there are viewpoints along the coast.

path near sAgaro and Sant Pol  Around the final headland, the path turns to give a view of the beach at St Pol. Another broad sandy bay - bigger than Concha and really the second (and prettiest) beach for St Feliu.

Instead of going to St Pol, we wanted to see some more of the S'Agaro estate and took the first path to the right past the Hostal de la Gavina. Initially we weren't sure how private the estate was, as it wasn't clear if the security staff would stop walkers, but there are paths (health walks) marked through the estate, so we think it's just cars that wouldn't be allowed in.

We broadly followed our nose through the estate, past a small church built at the high point, before finding more modern houses and then heading out and back to Platja d'Aro.

The route back into the town went past the attractions park (probably enjoyable for under 8s) and along the main shopping street.

Neighbouring walks: St Antoni de Calonge, Torre Valentina to Platja d'Aro (almost) - Platja Sant Pol to Sant Feliu de Guixols

Swimming: Swimming at the beach of Sa Conca (S'Agaro) - Swimming and beach at Platja d'Aro

Walking route for Platja dAro to sAgaro Costa Brava

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