Cadaqués is a picturesque fishing port with a definite atmosphere of its own, distinct from other resorts on the coast. This is an up-market resort for arty adults rather than families. The busy local ‘Casino‘ just beside where the dry riverbed, or rambla, flows into the sea, is where locals and vacationers mix, with serious dominoes and card games serving as the ice-breaker There’s a lively café society at night with jazz bars, and some great if pricey restaurants.
In the 30s the superstars of the avant guard – Picasso, Buñuel, Lorca Man Ray, Eluard, Duchamp, Magritte, Breton, Albéniz – and their entourages came to visit Salvador Dalí’s eccentric house in nearby Portlligat. In the 50s and 60s the people who came were aristocrats and millionaires, and Cadaqués became a distinctly hip place, hosting an interesting floating community. There are still plenty of beautiful people around and more than a few Mercedes, but it all falls short of, say, Cannes or Montecarlo snobbery, and in the off-season, the local artistic community gives Cadaqués a bohemian feel. However, I have to say that I’ve been aware of bad vibes between the locals and newcomers almost anytime I’ve been in Cadaques.
To anyone familiar with Dalí’s work, the windswept lunar landscapes around the bay at Portlligat and nearby Cap de Creus are bound to look familiar. In the same way that the architect Gaudí’s work was influenced by the strange rock formations of his native Reus, Dalí’s surreal landscapes are in fact quite faithful recreations of the weird topography around his childhood summer home. His seascapes, skies, clouds and sense of light and shade are clearly based on the view from his window. Nearby there are some lovely calas, quite difficult to access but excellent for snorkelling. Cap de Creus ends at a desolate and windswept collection of high rocky cliffs overlooking normally rough seas. The lighthouse signals the Iberian Peninsula’s easternmost shore. Just below the lighthouse, a series of (ex) hippies have made valiant efforts to keep the only other building running as a cosy bar/restaurant/hostal, with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, ‘world-music’, and an eclectic variety of eats such as hummus, vegetarian curries, stuffed crêpes, etc. A lot of New Age types gather here annually to greet the New Year at dawn.
Places to stay in Cadaqués
- Hotel Playa Homely hotel is situated in the centre of the picturesque fishing town of Cadaqués, in a small, sheltered bay opposite the Pianc beach.
- Hostalet Cadaques Opened in early 2008 and set only 20 minutes from the beach, the hotel is aimed at couples and includes facilities such as a cafe-bar. From here, you will be able to explore the local historic surroundings such as the church of Santa María and other museums and galleries.
- Hotel RocaMar This hotel is situated over the bay of Cadaques within a large 17,000 m2 park area that opens out directly onto two beaches.
Around the web
The wild coast of Cadaques (The Times)
The prosperous seaside resort of Cadaqués bears little relation these days to the rundown backwater of a fishing village that Dalí first came to know and love during childhood holidays before the First World War.
Today its neat, built-up esplanades and carefully kept swimming coves are a far cry from the slovenly grit and shingle strand from which Cadaqués’s fishermen launched their boats in former times to pursue that precious commodity, a shoal of sardines, whenever the cry went up that one of them had been spotted out at sea.
Relationship with Cuba
In the early 20th century a large number of inhabitants of Cadaqués travelled or emigrated to Cuba (the figure has been estimated as one third of a village of approximately 1200 people). Many of these immigrants were financially successful in Cuba and returned to Cadaqués where they constructed large and ornate houses. These houses can still be seen in the town (for example; the “Casa Blava”, “Blue House” in English)). A person returned from Cuba was referred to as an “Americano” among other names.
This article was written by Francis Barrett. See also Francis' excellent guide to Ireland irelandbyways.com
Information about the Ampurdan
Ampurdan main page
Information about the Costa Brava
Accommodation in the Ampurdan and the Costa Brava