3 Costa Brava beaches that allow dogs

So you find yourself living here with dogs or visiting and wondering if there are any dog friendly beaches along the Costa Brava, within close proximity to Girona.

Ordinarly dogs aren’t allowed onto the majority of beaches out here. This rule is year round as the no dogs signs are still displayed even out of season. However this is Spain and rules here are looked upon more as a guide. 

We’ve been on many beaches off-season and during winter and a lot of times there’s hardly anyone around, let alone to reprimand you. Plus, if other dog owners are there too that kind of means it’s okay unofficially. That said I can’t always guarantee that a passing policia local person might decide to say something.

The first place I was told about by a dog owning neighbour was Platja de la Gola del Ter, loosely translated as the mouth of the river Ter, which is one of four rivers that runs through Girona.

Driving there is the only option in this case. On the road from Torroella de Montgri to Pals, there’s a small Gola de Ter sign indicating where you turn off. Stay on this country road for several kilometres, through apple orchards and flat rice fields. Signs of civilization eventually start to appear in the shape of the Hotel Picasso, which also serves up a decent set lunch menu. 

Keep going along this so-called road which quickly turns into a bumpy, dusty dirt road reminiscent of an African safari route. The track narrows and it’s time to keep an eye out for a parking space. We try to go as close as we can to the beach. Walk the short distance to the beach across a bumpy boardwalk between dunes to a sandy, narrow stretch full of patches of driftwood. Left and right the beach extends out as far as the eye can see.

On our last visit people had begun constructing small rickety looking shelters using the plentiful driftwood. Sandy beaches stretch out in both directions. Walk off to your left for 10 mins and you’ll reach the river mouth. The steeply curving, deep sanded banks appear to shift their shape from year to year, and the water is knee deep if you want to walk across.

Dogs are free to wander and you really need to be self sufficient as there are no services anywhere. If you fancy a dip the water here becomes quite deep as soon as you enter the sea. Early evening sees the arrival of beach fishermen. 

Platja de les Dunes, St. Marti d’Empuries

Head for L’Escala and take the road signposted St Marti. Go pass the village of St Marti, and take a right when you see a sign for Hotel Riomar. Going down this dusty side road you’ll see parked cars, during summer it can be hard to spot a free space. As you reach the bottom you’ll see the wide expanse of sand, with the Riomar hotel (which also allows dogs) on the right. Parking is a bit tight here so turn right and continue, as the road bends to the right there’s more space along here.

With the hotel behind you, the area where dogs are allowed is across the small iron bridge that straddles a gentle stream.

With dunes at the back this super wide beach runs all the way up to St Pere Pescador. During summer you have to share it with hundreds of kite surfers and it’s also popular with nudists too. But the beach is plenty big if you can’t bear the sight of bare buttocks or the odd birthday suit. Make sure you wear flip-flops or sandals summertime as the sand is unbearably hot.

No lifeguard here but luckily there’s a portaloo, a cool beach bar (summer only) with decent food and a good sundowner spot. If you fancy more eating choices, a gentle 15 minute walk will take you to the quaint small St. Marti, where we often end up for a late supper in its Placa Petita.

Playa L’ Estartit-Playa canina

Just before you reach Estartit, turn right towards the sea and follow this road ‘Caminassa’. It ends right by the beach and surrounded with holiday apartments so parking is easy enough. Walk onto the beach and you should see the space to the right.

During the summer there’s a dedicated roped-off beach area for dog owners which is large enough. Within eyesight you’ll see a beach bar but there’s no toilets or lifeguard here. Off season it becomes one big open beach again (image below). The seaside resort of L’Estartit is off in the distance to your left. We’ve done the long walk into town from here and it’ll take about 25 minutes. Wintertime can seem a bit desolate, often very windy and unremarkable, as so many bars and restaurants are shut. But it’s not as bad as other locations along the Costa Brava.

Let me just finish by mentioning the strangest thing I’ve seen on a beach. Well, that was a 3ft long pet lizard sitting on its owner’s towel on La Fosca beach, near Palamos.