In the Andalucía region of southern Spain, a string of coastal cities and resort towns line the western Mediterranean known as the Costa del Sol. I recently visited the area while cruising on a 200 plus passenger yacht known as the Scenic Eclipse II. The vessel is a luxury expedition ship known for its helicopter excursions, submersible vessel, kayaks, zodiacs, e-bikes and going to places only small ships are able to visit.

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Malaga, the Largest City on the Coast

Before boarding the ship, I spent a day in Malaga, the largest city on the coast. Malaga is a city of museums. Among them is the Picasso Museum, housed in the former Buenavista Palace, which is built upon the ruins of the original Phoenician, then Roman settlements of Malaga. There are Picasso Museums in other cities throughout Spain, but the collection in this museum, offers insight into Picasso’s time living in Paris, his curiosity with Cuba, and his love for animals, which are depicted in many of his paintings and sculptures.

Wine In Malaga

As someone who appreciates tasting the wines of the world, I had to visit the Museo del Vino. What I most enjoyed about this museum is learning how wine was a central part of daily life two thousand years ago, even for children, who drank wine as a source of nutrition because food was scarce, and water carried disease. 

Lithography was a big industry for many years in Malaga, for making labels on the bottles. The museum has a most colorful collection of labels; many playfully artistic, or historical depictions of society over the years. You don’t see labels like these on wine bottles today.

During the centuries of Arab rule, which meant alcohol was forbidden, the vineyards stayed in business by producing raisins.

At the end of the visit, I tasted a few wines, unique to the area. I found them most unusual and intriguing. I doubt I can find them in the states.

Seafood & Resturants In Malaga

Malaga’s origins began with the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, then the Romans, where the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater can be viewed. The excavation work is meticulous. Nearby is the main cathedral, the cathedral grounds are a picturesque place to relax and reflect.

Lots of fish and seafood of every kind can be found in the small restaurants and streetside cafes. For my only night in Malaga, I ate a dinner of sole sauteed in butter and olive oil. It was very delicious and served with roasted wedge potatoes. A glass of local white Verdejo washed it all down.

The first port of call after sailing away from Malaga was Puerto Banus, a new development created in the 1970s. The area is very upscale and a place for the rich and famous, and ordinary people too. It is quite expensive to live here. Designer shops line the streets, where fancy sport cars drive by. Beautiful restaurants of chic design, and pulsating nightclubs await well-dressed and well-heeled patrons. The large harbor and marina are filled with gorgeous yachts, large and small. Sailboat charters and catamaran party cruises are available to enjoy and have fun. Jet skis crisscrossed the waters just outside the break wall. I was there on a glorious Sunday afternoon of a cloudless blue sky and the port was buzzing.

The biggest delight for me was finding a beach restaurant serving wood-fire grilled sardines skewered on a bamboo stick. Sardines are popular on the Coasta Del Sol. This was truly a treat for me.

Puerto Banus would be a great place to spend the winter. Sunny skies and an average temperature of 68 degrees in January and February would be ideal.

The Historical Heart of Marbella

There are numerous resorts that line the beach between Puerto Banus and nearby Marbella, a most beautiful and upscale city of 140,000 that triples in population in high season. Two of the most notable resorts of wealthy clientele are the Marbella Club and Puente Romano. Movie stars, celebrities and the European aristocracy are frequent guests.

In the historical heart of Marbella, there is a small town atmosphere. The quiet narrow streets are lined with flowerpots climbing the white-washed walls. The architecture is influenced by the Islamic or Moorish period. The entire city is beautified by colorful flower gardens, sculptures, and art displays. There is a refined elegance, not only in Marbella, but over the surrounding area of the Costa Del Sol that rivals the French Riviera and other famous playgrounds of the Mediterranean. I must visit again someday.

John Werner

As a 45 year veteran of the travel industry and the President of MAST Travel Network since 2002, John’s career has included 14 years as a travel agency owner. He has served in various capacities on the Board of the Midwest Chapter of ASTA including Treasurer and Vice President. John has also held several positions on the Board of Directors for MAST including Vice Chairman and Board Chairman during the years he owned Travel Group International, a MAST member during the 1990s.