Benahavis is a picturesque mountain village situated between Marbella and Estepona, 7km from the coastline. Surrounded by natural parkland, its terrain is traversed by the Rivers Guadalmine, Guadaiza and Guadalmanza and is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Andalucia. The area is home to 12 of the Costa del Sol's 70 golf courses including the world renowned Marbella Club, La Quinta, Flamingos Golf Club and La Zagaleta.
Perched at 500 metres above sea level and tucked into a valley, the town's elevated positioning offers its residents and visitors spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding countryside. Remnants of the area's Moorish heritage is evident in the ruins of the 11th century castle of Montemayor, which also benefitted from its strategic mountaintop position overlooking the African coast at a time when piracy and invasion were commonplace. The castle was once reigned by a Moorish Prince by the name of Havis, from which the town still retains its name today. Benahavis is Arabic for "son of Havis".
Today, the charming old village of Benahavis has an irresistible energy adored by both native and expatriate residents. Characterised by winding narrow streets that lead to quaint cobblestoned squares and white washed houses with sprawling bougainvillea flowers, Benahavis can be a hive of activity during the summer months but has remained remarkably unspoiled and retains much of its Moorish/Andalucian charm.
Benahavis has the highest concentration of high class restaurants in the region and boasts a number of excellent eateries to satisfy a variety of needs and tastes. Local specialities are roasted meats including suckling, pig, spring lamb, duck and steak. There are also a handful of excellent traditional tapas bars.
Benahavis has a dozen golf courses, facilities for adventure sports in stunning natural settings and a wide array of dining options. The area benefits from 12 reputable golf courses, two of which are part of exclusive clubs that offer a great number of world-class health and fitness facilities.
While in close proximity to the coast, Benahavis is very much a mountain village. The natural terrain that surround the town are among the most mountainous along the Costa del Sol and are populated with holm oaks, pine trees and cork oaks. The diversity of the parkland landscapes (namely the Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema) offer exciting hiking and outdoor activity options including jeep tours, guided hiking and safari tours through the 600-year old historical "Shepherds Trail." There is also an equestrian centre as well, featuring two areas and world-class facilities for competitions and dressage shows.
Benahavis is famed for its tranquil ambience and part of its appeal is that it lacks the vibrant nightlife, bars and high street shops of other neighbouring villages. There are a few small convenient shops for essentials, a few banks and some charming galleries. On Tuesdays, there is a small street market that offers fresh fruit and vegetables and a popular flea market every Sunday. Nevertheless, the wonderful beaches, water-sport facilities and colourful nightlife the Costa del Sol is famous for is only a short drive away in neighbouring towns of Puerto Banus and Marbella.
Selwo Adventure is a unique animal, nature and adventure park, located a few minutes drive away in Estepona. The park covers an area of 1,000,000m2 and is home to 2,000 animals from all five continents. Animals such as elephants, Bengal tigers, giraffes, white rhinoceros, lions and Kanvar, the only Asian elephant to be born in Spain, live in conditions similar to those of their natural habitat. Visitors are invited to tour the terrain by foot, or lorry and participate in adventure activities such as the longest zipwire in Europe, camel rides or the Path of the Hanging Bridges.
The beautiful and historic town of Ronda is also only one hour north of Benahavis. A unique city that is built on the edge of a canyon, Ronda is famous for its dramatic escarpments and views. Visitors are encouraged to cross the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below and offers unparalleled views over the Serranía de Ronda mountains.
Benahavis is tucked into a valley between Estepona and Marbella which are located 20 kilometres away in either direction. The town is only 7km away from the vibrant popular town of Puerto Banus and less than an hour's drive from Malaga airport.
All main towns of the Costa del Sol are within easy access by car and bus. The N340 and the A7 toll road connect Benahavis with the rest of the region and particularly for expats from the UK, Gibraltar Airport may be a good alternative as there are now daily flights to London, Liverpool and Manchester.
Once you become a resident of Spain or become a contributor to the Spanish social security system you will be entitled to free healthcare through the network of Centros de Salud and hospitals. Alternatively you can choose from one of the many private health insurances, which offer extremely reasonable quotes compared to other countries (Mapfre, Casar and Sanitas).
One of the most prestigious hospitals of the Malaga region, the Costa del Sol hospital is located just 20 minutes away and there are a great many of health care facilities and centres available in nearby Marbella.
State schools in Spain are operated by the local Autonomous Community and accept pupils according to their area of residency. Applications for a place need to be made at the local Town Hall.
With its close proximity to neighbouring Marbella and Estepona, residents of Benahavis have a wide variety of private schools to choose from including the International School of Estepona and the Marbella Montessori School. The new bilingual school, Colegio Atalaya is also located in the Estepona area and offers a combination of both Spanish and British education systems.