For our first official blog by The Jolly Mile it makes sense for us to talk about the best things to do in Sotogrande. These are the things we recommend doing whilst exploring Sotogrande in one of our Mini Mokes.
Sotogrande is probably best known for its golf, with five excellent courses in the area, so it only makes sense that this is first on the list. Even for non-golfers, such as myself, it is something of a must just to immerse yourself in the Sotogrande lifestyle. Almenara and La Cañada are good courses for the low to mid-handicapped, and for the more rounded players, there is La Reserva, which has a reputation for being the most challenging of the five, Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, which is probably, in my opinion, the most beautiful, set in the heart of Sotogrande Costa by the nature reserve, surrounded by luxurious villas, with the coastline and views of Gibraltar and Africa, a joy to pass by in one of our Mini Mokes during the sunset, and finally, there is Valderrama, also a stunning course with cork trees dotted around, and of course the most famous, after hosting the Ryder cup back in 1997.
Polo Valley is a private polo resort located just outside of Sotogrande. It is truly a spectacular place, with its stables, horses, finca, polo fields, and lake, all beautifully maintained. One of the many activities they offer, besides learning to play polo, is a river hack. This is a horse ride that takes you down the river that runs nearby the resort. And I don’t mean riding along the riverbank…no, no…you will actually go down the river and, depending on the time of year and how much it has rained, you could be completely submerged in the water on your horse. You can even float on your horse! It is an extraordinary experience and an absolute must. The Polo Valley team are wonderful and friendly and will make yourself feel completely at ease. Without doubt one of the best experiences in the area.
If you want a relaxing day at the beach there are plenty of options. Sotogrande has three main beaches, and even a man-made inland beach too. The main beaches are Torreguadiaro, with the beach clubs Bahía de Limon and Chambao if you want a sunbed. There is also Playa Sotogrande, which has Gigi´s and La Brisa sin Prisa chiringuitos to choose from. Lastly, to the other side towards Gibraltar, lies the Guadalquitón beach. This is quieter and certainly feels wilder than the other two beaches. Trocadero and Bunker beach club are situated at the start of this beach. The final option, and a bit different, is The Beach at La Reserva. This, at the time of writing, is the first man-made sandy pool to exist in Europe. Created using the fine white sand from the beaches in Tarifa, fresh water from the Guadiaro natural water reserve, and surrounded by Provence inspired landscape gardening, it really is what they like to call, barefoot luxury. Furthermore, they have what are by far the most comfortable and luxurious sunbeds I have ever laid on. They also have excellent food, with the best sushi in the area. The Beach is the option if you really fancy treating yourself.
Sotogrande is also famous for its polo, and a trip to Sotogrande would not be complete without a day at the polo at Santa María Polo Club. In all honesty, it feels more like a social event than a sporting one, but that makes it even more interesting. Soak up the glitzy atmosphere with the sound of galloping horses in the background, have a couple of glasses of champagne or feast on some Argentinean style (asado) barbecued steak, browse around the boutique shopping stalls, mingle with the glamourous crowd, and maybe even watch some of the polo. Santa María holds one of the international polo tournaments every year in August and is the centre court for polo in Sotogrande.
If you are looking to do some shopping, then we recommend heading to the new marina, where you will find the Mercado de Levante on Sundays all throughout the year, and also Wednesdays in the summer. Full of interesting and unique items and stalls, such as hats, clothes, photography and art. There are the permanent shops on one side of the marina, and the water with the yachts moored on the other. With the addition of some very good restaurants, such as La Quilla and Foodisiac, it makes for a splendid atmosphere, and a nice way to start a Sunday.
Shopping at the marina leads nicely on to no.6, an aperitif at Ke bar. Ke is one of the first bars to open in Sotogrande port and has become known as the ‘meeting’ point. Locals will see familiar faces, having a ‘caña’ and some olives, whilst people watching, and also car watching, as there tends to be a fair few interesting vehicles that pass by, our Mokes included!
Although having afternoon tea is not a particularly Spanish thing to do, the Afternoon ‘Tee’ at La Reserva Club Restaurant in the golf club house of La Reserva, is a very nice experience, with excellent sandwiches and cakes, in very pleasant surroundings on the terrace of the restaurant overlooking La Reserva’s magnificent golf course. At just 20€ per person it is well priced too, and definitely worth doing.
Continuing with the culinary theme, another must on your stay in Sotogrande is dinner at Cancha II restaurant. Set next to the exquisite polo fields of the Ayala polo club, the surroundings are spectacular, as well as the building, with its dark wood and large terraces. The food is also excellent, specializing in gourmet Argentinean meats, grills, empanadas and wines. Argentinean grills are a typical food in Sotogrande thanks to the polo influence in the area, and this is a culinary delight that should not be missed.
We previously mentioned the Guadalquitón beach as one of the options for the day at the beach, but in my personal opinion, I prefer to keep this beach reserved for long walks, during the evenings when the sun is going down and it is cooler. It stretches way out towards Gibraltar, and you can walk all the way to Alcaidesa and even La Linea, the last Spanish town before reaching Gibraltar. The views are spectacular, with ‘The Rock’ at the forefront, but also with Africa in the background, and with the sun setting, with the sky turning pink and purple, it can be very pleasant and romantic.
What better way to finish off the long walk along the beach than with a cocktail at Trocadero. This is a large beach club, with three pools, set by the beach with fantastic views of the sea. It has a colonial African feel in the design and décor, and serves tasty cocktails with chilled ambient music. An appropriate way to bring this blog to a close.