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Located in the province of Andalucia, the Costa del Sol lies along the coast of southern Spain
The city of Málaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol, but here we will look at the attractions in some of the smaller resort towns along the coastline, starting with Torremolinos, a short drive from the capital city.
Torremolinos has been a popular resort since the 1960s and is still popular today, with its endless beaches, dotted with palm trees. Among its many attractions, kids will love Aqualand, a water park with many fun slides for all ages.
Of particular interest here is the Crocodile Park, which offers guided tours and a petting area, where the family gets to hold a baby crocodile. There is also a cafe on site for refreshments. Judging by the toothy grin below, the residents are happy to be there!
2. Benalmadena Costa
Next stop on the coastal highway is Benalmadena Costa. This beautiful town has two major draws for children, besides the beaches of course.
One is the Tivoli World Theme Park, with its fun fairground rides and gardens. Another is Sea Life Benalmadena, an aquarium located in the stunning Benalmadena Marina. Here the children can meet all kinds of marine animals and fish and can pet a hermit crab or starfish in the interactive rock pool. For those who love boating, you can take a ferry from the marina to our next destination, Fuengirola.
Fuengirola has around 6 km (3.7 mi) of beautiful beaches to enjoy, along with a promenade all the way. However, hidden away in this oceanfront town is a beautiful place known as Bioparc Fuengirola. Formerly dubbed the Fuengirola Zoo, the Bioparc now features a series of natural enclosures, surrounded by trees, where various species from Asia and Africa can be seen.
There are tigers, leopards, all types of monkeys, gorillas, orang-utans and chimpanzees to visit, along with an aquarium, where marine life can be viewed underwater and an aviary full of birds.
However, one of the most popular attractions for children and adults alike is the lemur enclosure. Entered through a realistic baobab tree, tours are offered every 30 minutes of so to enter and walk among the lemurs of Madagascar. I was particularly privileged during one visit to have Charlie the black and white ruffed lemur personally posing for me.
One of the most important aspects of Bioparc Fuengirola is their efforts at conserving endangered species. There have been a number of important births in the park, including baby oran-gutans, buff-cheeked gibbons, colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and tigers.
4. La Cala de Mijas
La Cala de Mijas, or La Cala for short, is a small, former fishing village, off the coastal highway between Fuengirola and Marbella. There are no theme or animal parks here, but visitors can stroll the almost 6-km (3.7-mi) Boardwalk alongside endless sandy beaches, all the way to Cabopino.
The main attraction for the youngsters is the Galleon – a wonderful climbing and sliding experience close to the beach.
A series of exercise machines is located on the beach close by to keep the parents amused. Just around the corner, the whole family can visit El Torreon, a former Moorish defense tower with a museum.
Our next stop on the coastal highway is Estepona, a charming town with a historic center to explore. However, the best attraction for the family lies just outside of the town. Selwo Aventura offers a full safari experience in an animal park with vehicle tours, walking trails and other attractions.
Among the residents here are African creatures, such as lions, zebras, giraffes and flamingos, alongside tigers from Asia. For a reasonable price, the family can spend the night in the park, with all the sounds of Africa surrounding them.
It can get pretty hot on the Costa del Sol in summer. For a comfortable experience, take a tour of the Costa del Sol in spring or fall, when the queues are shorter and the sun still shines.