Cala Fonda, Tarragona
"Always go right. That's what they say," Anna says. She sounds doubtful, even though she GREW UP JUST UP THE ROAD IN TORREDEMBARRA.
We are standing still at the first fork in the narrow dirt track leading us through the forest that runs along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. The heady scent of rosemary and lavender wafts up from the scrubby bushes along the narrow dirt track. We are searching for Cala Fonda (locally known as Waikiki Beach), a two-mile stretch of pristine coastline hidden along the rugged cliffs of the Costa Daurada. The beach is famed for its yellow nutrient-rich mud that beachgoers slather on with abandon.
We walk through the forest beneath low-hanging branches of pine, needles carpeting our path. Picnic bags are slung over our arms. A bottle of red from Menorca's Binifadet winery clinks against the glasses I've brought. Anna's German shorthaired pointer, Juno, leads the way. We regret our flip flops.
The walk is long but pleasant enough, despite the small rocks and downed branches that litter our path. At some point, we finally see a small clearing overlooking the water. I recognize it from a past trip I made, where I laid on giant crests of rock hanging over the sea. We make camp, happy to unburden ourselves from the heavy bags holding the small feast we've brought.
We spread our blanket and unpack the food: aged manchego cheese, homemade hummus, and tiny green arbequina olives, couscous salad scented with lebanese spices, sweet black cherries, some jamón. A bottle of Casera, the sweet sparkling water we add to our wine in the summer to make tinto verano. It's enough food for five people but we take our time, savoring it until it's all gone.
Afterwards, we lie on the ground talking and laughing, telling stories and calling for Juno who runs wild circles around us and disappears into the brush.
We are happy in the shade, patiently waiting until late afternoon to head down to the beach, wisdom having taught us to wait until the strong Spanish sun has lost some of its intensity.
Eventually we pack up our things and make our way down to the beach, climbing down several small cliffs, coaxing the puppy who is more afraid of heights than we are. When we finally emerge onto the beach, the yellow mud is only a soft glow in the late afternoon light. The people are few. The water is warmer than I remember it being for an early day in July.
We loll under the shade of a too-small umbrella, letting the sun kiss our toes. We listen to the silence. We decide to never go home. +
How to arrive: Take the road Carrer Baix Camp that runs alongside the camping in the community of La Mora leading away from the ocean. Parking is free on the streets along Carrer Baix. You'll have to leave your car and walk in via the gate at the end of Carrer Alt Camp.
What to Know: It's a nudist beach without services. It's important to bring water because the closest restaurants and shops are a 20-minute hike away.