Whether summery weather is making us dream of beaches or wintery weather is making us lust after warmer climes, studying Spanish by the beach is an attractive option year-round. It’s almost too good to be true that you can take a language course just minutes from the soft white sand and lapping waters of a beach whose very image on a postcard will have all your friends thinking that there’s no way you can possibly be ‘studying’. But yes, it’s true: you can take language classes in the morning and then have the rest of the day to swim, surf, sunbathe, or do whatever it is you like to do on holiday.
Having visited all our beach locations (well, somebody’s got to do it), we’ve compiled our very own pick of beach locations for you to take a Spanish course. All you need to do is take our word for it and make your friends pea-green with envy that it’s all in the name of education…
1. Cartagena, Colombia
At nearly 500 years old, Cartagena is a real jewel of the Caribbean. Steeped in colonial history, its old walled city, a UNESCO heritage site, is a charming trove of narrow streets, shaded courtyards and balconies spilling out bright flowers. The infectious beat of salsa and the sweet smell of fruit vendors’ carts fill the streets, just enough to tempt you before the warm waters lapping at its shores lure you away from the city and towards the beautiful beaches of the northern Caribbean coast. Culture, history, food and beaches – it doesn’t get much better than this.
2. San Sebastián, Spain
Lesser known that its coastal Spanish counterparts, San Sebastián is perhaps better left this way. Those of you who do choose to go here to learn Spanish will not need to be told why. The golden crescent of Playa de la Concha beach stretches around the bay and is worlds away from the crowded, touristy beaches of the southern Costas, lending itself to outdoor activities such as surfing, beach volleyball and swimming. The town itself is a delightful mix of Basque and Spanish tradition, surrounded by the lush green hills of Gipúzcoa. San Sebastián is also one of the top spots to go for a good time, with plenty of restaurants dishing up excellent cuisine, and thriving tapas bars filling its popular Parte Vieja.
3. Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach is an old favourite with Cactus and for good reason. This laid-back town on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is the place to go for the perfect combo of long golden beaches with a backdrop of lush, natural jungle. Unsurprisingly Jaco attracts surfers from afar, and even away from the beach you’re surrounded by rows of surf shops and surfers discussing the perfect wave over a cerveza as the sun goes down. It’s not just about the water though; nature lovers can surround themselves with wildlife in the nearby forest and brush up on their photography, while those who simply want to chill out have ample opportunity – there is even a Spanish & Yoga course for those who want to stretch their limbs as well as their mind.
4. Tenerife, Spain
Year-round sunshine and long, sandy beaches have for years been attracting tourists to Tenerife – and for good reason. Relax under your parasol or why not try your hand at surfing or diving. Perhaps lesser known is its appeal as a destination to learn Spanish. But on second thoughts, why not…what could be better than finishing class and having nothing more to do than check out the superb natural environment all around you? From the snow-covered Teide mountains inland to the wonderfully shaped lava figures of the fertile Orotava valley, from the near-desert areas of the south to the subtropical valleys laden with banana and palm trees, there’s much more to Tenerife that the holiday brochures let on.
5. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Sun, sea, sand and more sand…don’t look further than Playa if this is your idea of paradise. It’s no surprise that over recent years tourists have begun to flock here, but beach life is still nothing but relaxed and the old Latin philosophy of mañana lives on. Indulge in some superb diving or snorkelling in the clear Caribbean waters, chill out with some open-air yoga, cook up some Mexican specialities, browse the local shops selling Mexican crafts or take a trip to the wonderful Mayan ruins at Tulum or Chichen Itza. If this all sounds too much, simply grab a beer in one of the many seafront bars, hang out and soak it all up.
6. Málaga, Spain
Málaga is much more than an entry and departure point for those holidaying on Spain’s Costa del Sol. It is a lively cosmopolitan port and a city worth visiting in its own right – yet fortunately not everybody knows this, so it remains an attractive, Spanish-speaking location with history and traditions to rival those of any other Spanish city. Visitors can wander through Málaga’s attractive cobbled streets, enjoy world-class art with the likes of the Picasso Museum, enjoy typical Malagueñan flamenco and grab some fresh seafood at a seafront marisquería. And if it’s beaches you’re after you don’t need to head far: Málaga boasts 40km of coastline that provides all kinds sandy and rocky beaches to wild, deserted stretches of land.