Spain is one of the few places visitors can snorkel surrounded by tuna. // © 2015 Titanium Tours/iStock
Feature image (above): Trekking in Basque Country is growing in popularity. // © 2015 Kabi
When most travelers think of Spain, they probably conjure up images of world-class art and amazing food. While the country certainly has that in spades, Spain is also a great destination for those looking for more active pursuits. With 300 sunny days per year, easy access to the trails and rivers of the Pyrenees and thousands of miles of coastline, the country is well-suited for a variety of activities. Even better — visitors here can enjoy world-class adventures by day and unparalleled luxury by night.
Edurne Pasaban is the founder of Kabi, an exclusive agency specializing in adventure tourism in the Basque Country and the Pyrenees. She is also the first woman to climb all fourteen 8,000-meter peaks in the world. Not surprisingly, Pasaban’s favorite adventure activity in Spain is trekking.
“It’s hard for me to pick the best place for trekking in the Basque Country; I guess it all depends on my mood,” Pasaban said. “Sometimes I like to hike along the coast and breathe the salty air and just relax while looking at the sea. On the other hand, in autumn there isn’t a more breathtaking view and relaxing place than the natural parks of the region.”
Summer or Fall: Pasaban says the Basque Coast is best during summer because of its blue skies and the occasional rain shower, while the natural parks are beautiful in autumn when they are full of red, orange and brown colors.
Ana Ramiro is the press and public relations manager for the Tourist Office of Spain in Los Angeles. She’s worked in tourism for the past 13 years, sampling a wide range of experiences throughout Spain. She says that the combination of diverse culinary experiences and the ability to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations makes the country a perfect choice for adventurous travelers. While she has a long list of favorite activities, when pressed, she says the one she finds most memorable is skydiving.
“To experience a full minute of free fall is a very unique sensation,” Ramiro said. “And once the parachute opens, you feel like a bird and can enjoy the views and the silence. You’ll never hear silence like that on the ground.”
Enjoy the View: Ramiro says a good place to try skydiving is Empuriabrava, near Girona. Visitors can tandem jump at 13,000 feet and see views of the Gulf of Roses and the Cap de Creus.
Snorkeling With Tuna
As the CEO of Spanish tour operator Titanium Tours, Jesus Repetto gets to partake in many amazing experiences, but he says none are as thrilling and unique as swimming with a school of hundreds of red tuna off the coast of Catalonia. According to Repetto, the only place in Spain — and one of the only places in the world — where visitors can do this is off the coast of L’Ametlla de Mar in Tarragona, about two hours south of Barcelona.
“It’s a safe but exhilarating experience and definitely one of a kind,” he said. “I think Spain is so rich in culture and adventure that it’s a perfect destination for travelers seeking new experiences like this.”
School’s in Session: The season runs from the end of June through September, and August is high season. Repetto suggests visitors swim with tuna the first half of July when the water and weather are perfect and the area is not overcrowded with tourists.