While Marbella is pretty much famous throughout the world for its richer, glitzier suburb marina of Puerto Banus, about 10km along the coast from the centre, the port, which houses the big gaudy yachts, the high end fashion boutiques and the boy-toy roof-off sports cars is far removed from the true Marbella, which at its heart has a gem of an old town, and in the streets around it extends a charm of a bustling Spanish town, but one which has authenticity and a feel of Spanish community running through its every vein. Puerto Banus is a different kettle of fish altogether. If superficial needed a dictionary definition, Puerto Banus would be it. Constructed from scratch in the late 1960s by Jose Banus, and opened at a lavish 1970 gala with attendees such as Grace Kelly, then Princess of Monaco present, the port very quickly became the favourite destination of the jet set and those with plenty of cash to splash. Today, the port retains its self-indulgent character, albeit that the occupants have probably become richer, and almost certainly tackier, with their fake bodily parts, hideously botoxed blown-up lips, overly worked tans and hair extensions. The lack of taste in the place really does grate, and after an hour or so amongst the nouveau riche, I am rarely happier to get back to the Andalus authenticity and charm of Marbella’s old town.
Taking the boat from Marbella to Banus…
The catamaran taking us to Banus
But get away from the tacky masses, and block out the drones of Essex accents and other unsavoury lingos, and the fact remains that Puerto Banus, built in a uniform dazzling low-rise white, with similarly sparkling white yachts before it and the stupendously beautiful Marbella mountain rising up behind it, is really very beautiful. And there is no better way to approach the port and therefore regard it from a safe distance in all its peopleless beauty than to take a boat from Marbella’s slightly less salubrious marina, to Banus. At the cost of only 8 euros one way, it’s almost the same price as a taxi, but the trip affords stunning views of the Marbellan coastline, reminding passengers of just why the town was named “Sea Beautiful”.
Puerto Banus in all its glory
Once in Puerto Banus, a few restaurants round the corner from the main boutique-filled thoroughfare enable quiet al fresco dining with a stunning port-side location, while just outside of Puerto Banus, in the stretch between Banus and Marbella are situated some of the most stunning, tranquil and quiet beaches in all of Marbella. So when my partner and I headed to Banus by boat this summer, we were surprised how much of an enjoyable experience we could extract from a Port which we have formerly declared a no-go zone. Not only did the lunch trip and the boat over afford us stunning views of the marina and the coast, but our return journey provided us with the most beautiful vistas of them all. Because for those with the energy and the appetite for a long walk, the walk on foot, along Marbella’s amble seaside-promenades from Banus back to the centre of Marbella, is undoubtedly the most stunning walk to be had on all of the Costa del Sol. While it takes a good 90 minutes without stopping, and longer when you stop to take advantage of the tranquil beaches and the well-situated seaside cafes, the path takes you past bounteous plump cacti, extravagant private villas, luxury hotels and quiet beaches which resemble something out of paradise. The walk is in fact so close to my heart that a couple of years back it inspired me to paint “Paseo Banus” (see below).
The famous Banus yachts
The photos which you now see are from our trip to Banus, and the stunning walk home to Marbella’s centre which followed. Our walk probably took around 3 hours by the time we had stopped off at our favourite café Cappuccino Grand Café (and on another occasion Ibiza’s favourite – Café del Mar) and also spent a good hour dipping in and out of the super-calm sea, revelling in being the only people on a very quiet beach. But what an afternoon it was – sunny, hot, tranquil, beautiful – the riches of Marbella reserved for those who make the effort to walk out to them.
Walking from Banus back to Marbella
…and the painting it inspired
Paseo Banus (2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, Acrylic on canvas)
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