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Travel: Tamariu is a sparkling Spanish gem

Costa Brava (Alamy)
Costa Brava (Alamy)

RUNNING my fingers through the warm, marine-blue water as we ‘taxi’ out of the tiny Spanish bay, I can feel the stress of the last 24 hours of airport queues and car rental offices wash away.

The children – all bundled up in life jackets like mini Michelin men – don’t seem to mind that their arms are practically at right angles, so high is their excitement at what’s coming next.

It’s our first day in Tamariu, a tiny coastal village on the north-east coast of Spain, and we’re on a boat tour of the caves lurking at the foot of the picturesque raggedy cliffs.

The children point out the large mansions, some with glass-sided swimming pools looking out to sea, carved into the edge of the cliffs.

Tarragona province, Tamariu Castle (Alamy)

My excited youngest son, Fraser, points to one that has flat, white-washed walls, flanked by 50 ft glass panels on three levels, and shrieks: “That one … that’s where Ronaldo lives”.

Who knows, but even if whoever lives there isn’t an elite footballer they are sure to have a similarly bulging bank balance.

We’re staying for two weeks at Ses Brises, a beautiful complex of apartments with its own walled garden pool and tennis courts, just a five-minute walk from the main thoroughfare.

It’s not quite into the baking-hot full season, but the weather is warm and sunny – perfect when you have children with skin more at home in cold, dreich conditions than blistering heat.

After an hour, we head back to the bay and have lunch in one of the exquisite beachside restaurants, La Morera, just a stone’s throw from the small but perfectly formed beach that’s bustling with families.

Tamariu, Beach, Costa Brava (Alamy)

Eating out is not the cheapest option for lunch when there’s seven of you – around €150 Euros all in, with kids having burgers and chips, or fish, normally a grilled seabass-type, with paella for the adults, and wine, too. But it does give us mums a day off.

There are not that many Brits here – lots of Germans, French and, of course, the seasoned Catalans with their sun-scorched, leathery skin, who bask on the beach.

The first thing you realise is just how family-friendly this village is. Locals treat my children like little members of the Royal family – joking with them, making them feel special.

We look for restaurants which cook gluten-free food as my oldest Murray is allergic.

Without exception, the restaurateurs go out of their way to make him some delicious dish of decadence.

Plus, most of them let you take your drinks to the beach – and are happy to serve you a glass of Sangria while you keep an eye on your kids splashing around in the water or plunging off the makeshift diving board that juts out of a cliff.

The only downside to the horseshoe-shaped beach is that it’s quite rough on little feet (we have to buy beach shoes).

Dusky Grouper, Epinephelus marginatus, Tamariu (Alamy)

It’s not the icing-sugar soft sand you find on the Cote D’Azur, but things are a little bit different on the Costa Brava.

And that’s a good thing, too, because there’s so much to do here. The next day, we head to Aquadiver in Platja d’Aro, one of two water parks on the Costa Brava. With wave pools and fast rivers, it’s a children’s paradise (

When you have children, you know that all they want to do is swim for hours and go beach-combing at night but, into our second week, we decide to change things a little and head to Begur, which is dripping in Moorish and Spanish architecture. There are lovely hotels and bistros sprinkled everywhere, too.

Restaurants cut into cliffsides, but the winding streets can be precarious, so only attempt a visit if you’re comfortable driving on the other side of the road.

We get lost trying to get home – and after taking directions in half-Spanish/half-English from an unsuspecting villager, we end up in Llafranc, Tamariu’s neighbouring village which is just 10 minutes’ drive from where we’re staying.

We wash down plates of chips with ice cold Fantas and beer in Restaurante La Sirena.

That night, we meet friends who have a holiday home here for pre-dinner drinks in the El Palanqui restaurant and stumble upon a little fayre packed with stalls selling hand-made jewellery, paintings, leather goods and other locally produced crafts.

The evening atmosphere is gloriously friendly and bustling; you just can’t help feeling chilled out here.

Tamariu may be the tiny diamond in the Costa Brava crown, but you’ll rediscover your sparkle in this little gem of a village.

The Facts 

Where to stay: Book Ses Brises apartments through corredormató.com. It’s around £1061 for a week. Or, if you’re looking for a hotel, try a family room, with terrace and sea view, at (around £1138).

How to get there: In June, fly from Edinburgh to Girona from £68 per person (£150 return) with; or from Prestwick to Girona from £30 per person (£70 return) with Ryanair.