Sun, sea, sand – right on your retro red (or green ice or mustard) doorstep.
Somehow it works out that our teenaged boys get the cherry red vintage caravan while the rest of us get the (very nice) mobile home. We girls gush over their cute-fruit cushions, while the boys chuck bags on beds to claim ownership, then sprint over the sand dunes to the beach without a backward glance.
August in Catalunya is hot, but within a couple of hours of arrival we’re in full chill-out mode at Camping Miramar on the Costa Daurada (Gold Coast), with an enviable view of the Mediterranean Sea.
The beach bar helps.
And so does the sea breeze that lifts the heat as soon as you are on the sand – sand that reaches for miles up and down the coast.
It’s a breeze that can whip up the best waves for a swim – just don’t forget to hang on to the rope of your boat before your vessel is a mere speck through your binoculars (and you become known as the carelessly entertaining British family making a spectacle of yourselves on the beach).
Although it’s hard not to be known as the “British” family. Most visitors are Spanish, but there are French, German and Swiss too. We meet a lovely Swiss couple who have been coming here for years – always the same spot – because it is utterly relaxing, living right on the beach, listening to the sea.
And that’s Camping Miramar’s key: a beach-loving, natural style. I grow accustomed to swimming out to sea – as far as a I dare – before turning back to soak up the shimmering clear water against a vivid blue sky. Golden sand in the foreground and mountains of rocky green in the distance. Idyllic.
A little way up the coast, a couple of other campsites are sited on an altogether larger scale, with pools and slides, discos, kids’ activities, and a more crowded stretch of sand.
That tighter patch of beach is visible from where we sprawl like lions, and we have little desire to wander up. One day we decide to be adventurous and give it a try, but find it too much of a squeeze (and with too many Brits).
An hour later we are back, spreading our towels within easy reach of our favourite beach bar, Xiringuito del Miramar.
It’s run by just two guys, who work every single day of the week: one from 12pm until 6pm and the other from 6pm until whenever. Cocktails are a speciality, but anything goes – coffee, wine, beer, iced tea – or my new favourite drink: a glass of red wine topped with soda water and a giant ice cube. Delicious at noon, and gorgeous against the blue of the sea.
No food is (yet) available beyond the usual bar snacks, but plans are afoot to serve some simple fare and expand the bar (without sacrificing its unfussy appeal, I hope).
Food can be found elsewhere on site – the café/restaurant is great for a morning coffee and croissant, and there’s a well-priced menú del día too.
Each pitch has its own barbecue as well. Local supermarkets are plentiful, and the campsite’s shop bakes fresh bread and sells all the essentials to fire up your own feast.
We manage to coincide our stay with the seasonal beach party. Electronic music isn’t to everyone’s taste, but burgers and beer go down well with us all. The party is a white-clad vision, super pretty at dusk.
We stake our camping chairs down by the water and watch the line of fishermen quietly ignoring the noise.
Close to Cambrils – a pleasant seaside town with watersports, beaches, good food (including a couple of Michelin-starred restaurants), and a decent shopping centre.
Roman Tarragona is a treat at only 30 minutes away. Try all kinds of tasty food at the fantastic Mercat Central (Central Market), take in centuries of history at the Roman Amphitheatre, then follow up with a stroll through the handsome old town.
Away the coast, a more authentic Catalunya awaits: hill-top villages, colourful with flags, offer cheaper food – and it’s always useful to have a little Catalan up your sleeve.
If Cherry Red isn’t your style, try going vintage with Blue Anchor or Denim Blue, Olive Green or Strawberry. There’s a colour and theme to suit all.
Alternatively, a mobile home is more spacious and has its own shower room. Equally well-equipped and with sweet little touches.
Who runs Camping Miramar?
A smallish team of hard-working and friendly people, who buzz around the site on bikes and speak a multitude of languages.
Behind them is the Nolla family, who have managed the site since December 2010 (it’s been here since 1983). Each of the three campsites they own is independently run to maintain the personal approach and also the focus on what makes this place a winner – a laid-back style and proximity to the sea.
For life is always good at the beach …
Finally – how much?
High Season – a vintage caravan is 79 euros per day (low/medium seasons 59 euros), and a mobile home is 135 euros per day (95 euros in low/medium seasons).
For more information and to book, click here.