BBQ’s, wild camping and scuba diving on the costa brava..
After a productive travel photography trip to Poland and the Czech Republic I flew back to Barcelona, picked up a rental car with a friend, loaded it up with camping/diving gear and headed for the coast road that twists and turns its way up Spain’s north-east coast. The goal was to find a spot to set up camp for the night and then be up and awake first thing in the morning to get a full day of scuba diving on the Costa Brava. I went with my friend Niels, who has written articles for this blog in the past. If you haven’t already, you should check them out.
This is how we did it, and how you can too.
Told in 3 parts…
Part 1 – Transport
First up we rented a car from Social Car which cost 35€ for 24 hours. Great deal, just make sure you go over the car VERY well when you pick it up and drop it off. They tried to blame us for damage that we didn’t cause. Long story short, we eventually got our deposit back after a week and many many phone calls to head office.
We left from Barcelona centre so booking a car from there was super easy.
After taking a few detours, stopping for food and generally enjoying the drive on one of Spain’s most beautiful roads, we made it to our destination which was the town of Tossa de Mar.
Part 2 – Finding a ‘Campsite’
This was a bit harder than we thought it would be.
You can pay for a pitch in one of the campsites nearby which would make life easier but where’s the fun in that? We were only going to camp for 1 night so didn’t need any of the facilities they offer anyway.
Wild camping in Spain is actually technically illegal but we figured there’s worse crimes we could commit and we wouldn’t be causing any trouble, no one would even know we were there. After about an hour of driving through the mountains looking for a good spot we finally found a dirt road that looked far enough away from, well anything, for us not to disturb anyone.
Once we found our spot we parked up and set up the tent. Camping in the mountains in Spain is awesome, you can hear the crickets singing which always reminds me of coming to Spain on holiday as a kid.
The next, and probably most important, thing to do was light the BBQ. It was a disaster could have been better.
Not only do the sausages look like a dog would turn them down but I someone left the bread sitting on the kitchen counter back at home. So all in all not the best dinner I have ever had in my life. Still, a few beers helped ease the empty feeling in my stomach. Or was that funny feeling in my stomach from eating sausages that were pretty questionable at best? Oh well no time to worry about that, best get to bed we’ve got to be up early tomorrow.
In the morning we packed all of our stuff up and headed to the nearest cafe that was open for a breakfast of toast, croissants, juice and coffee.
Part 3 – The Scuba Diving
I’m actually a fully qualified diving instructor with all of my own equipment and my friend Niels is a certified open water diver so we didn’t want to pay for a tour or join a big group of other people, all we wanted was a place to rent the gear for Niels and pick up a few tanks of air.
Our plan was to pick up the gear from Oceanos Diving Center on the Costa Brava but after waiting 30 minutes from the time they were supposed to open in the morning, and them still not showing up, we decided to leave and head to the beach in Tossa de Mar to see what we could find.
It turned out to be a good thing as we found a little dive shop called Kraken right on the beachfront that rented out all the gear you need for 35€ which included 1 tank of air. Another great deal!
The best thing about this little place was that because it was right on the beach, not 10 minutes drive inland like Oceanos was, you could gear up out back and walk onto the beach and straight down to the shore.
The staff there was super friendly and relaxed, couldn’t have asked for better. Once we told them we just wanted to rent the gear and we will take care of the rest ourselves they showed us a map of the dive site, gave us some pointers of what to see and we got on with it.
The dive site is around a little island just off the shore which you can get to by swimming. Even easier, no need for a boat. For the mediterranean sea the diving was actually pretty impressive. We saw schools of barracuda, bream and even an octopus being attacked by what looked like a trigger fish.
The deepest we went to was about 23 meters which isn’t too bad for a dive site just off shore.
After the first dive we went for lunch and a walk around Tossa de Mar. We found a typical Spanish restaurant where we had Gazpacho and Paella for lunch before heading back for a second dive.
We offered to pay upfront and before we went for lunch, but the laid-back staff kept telling us not to worry and that we can pay after our second dive. That’s what I love about the diving community, everyone knows how to relax and have a good time. No stressing.
If you’re looking for a no hassle diving adventure then I highly recommend Kraken, I’ll be back for sure.
Turns out scuba diving on the Costa Brava is pretty awesome.
Do it! If you want a cheap adventure from Barcelona or have a free day when your visiting this part of Spain then go for it. It can be done on a budget, you don’t have to go crazy.
One thing I will say though, if you are not a confident or an experienced certified diver then for sure book a guided tour. Do not just rent the gear and go alone if you are not 100% confident in your abilities. Besides you wont enjoy yourself if you aren’t comfortable, better go with someone who knows what they are doing!
Thanks for reading!
Since 2016 I’ve travelled full-time working as a travel photographer and writer remotely. I move around at my own pace (I hate fast-paced travel) and like to spend a few months getting to know each place I base myself in. Currently in the north of España 🇪🇸 and loving it.