Living in Puerto de la Duquesa

Published on 10/9/2007 in Spanish Lifestyle

Moving to Duquesa four years ago from Hove in Sussex after selling our home and property development business it would be fair to say that our initial transition was not a smooth one.  Arriving with three children and a dog to an unfinished house in 35 degrees heat and my husband in a new job in Gibraltar – these were stressful times!  .  Now however, with absolutely no regrets and with children settled and having gained two more dogs and a second villa as an investment, we are extremely happy and settled. 

Our five year old son attends Pablo Picasso School in Manilva – he is fluent in Spanish and having put our two older sons through the primary system in the UK – I have never known a more lovely school.  The teachers are wonderful – caring and loving – the school takes the children on regular trips to ‘the farm’ – ‘the cinema’ – ‘the zoo’ – there is also extra sport offered twice a week at this age which is run by Manilva Council and the young children learn ball skills and co-ordination.  You can stay for lunch ‘comedor’ but you have to pay for this – around 50 euros a month.  The sport costs about 40euros a term and you have to buy some books at the beginning of each year.

DuquesaOur older boys went to International school as we felt that it would be unreasonable to expect them to cope in Spanish school.  International School San Pedro is half an hour away but the school supplies a bus from Duquesa.  The school is brand new and although a little limited in sports facilities they have very competitive teams in all sports and have just achieved superb results in the last GCSE’s.  Our middle son sits these next May and is very settled there.  The Sotogrande International school is also not far away and busses run from this area too. 

If you’re worried about sport or extra girl stuff – there is plenty around.  Marbella has a superb rugby club and Gibraltar has a very competitive cricket league.  There are also many adult teams which make up several leagues and it is ‘taken very seriously’!  A friend of mine has girls and they go riding in nearby San Martin there are several equestrian establishment in and around the area – ballet lessons and flamenco too – Manilva also has a music school which is lovely.  Every holiday – Stage Coach hold week long courses for all ages of children which is great for any budding actors!  There is a huge men’s football league here too as the obvious golf does not suit everyone.  Sabinillas which almost joins Duquesa is building a magnificent new sports centre so we are all waiting for the grand opening.

The boats in Duquesa Port, Estepona Port and Sotogrande marina are magnificent just to look at, but berths are also available if boating is your thing.  You can just hire boats too and fishing trips can also be booked.  Many people fish off the breakwater at Duquesa and the children love to watch the professionals bringing in their catch.

Many people ask me ‘what do you miss – genuinely – nothing – we visit family 2 or three times a year and always have visitors coming to us. Gibraltar airport is so convenient 20 minutes away and Malaga is around 50 minutes away . You can pop down to Gibraltar if you want to see a double Decker bus, a red phone box or just get your undies from Marks& Spencer.  Morrisons in Gibraltar will supply you with anything food wise you just can’t live without – ours tend to be prawn cocktail crisps and oven chips!

The English butcher based in Duquesa Port can do justice to any Sunday roast and the local supermarkets of Mercadona, Super Sol and Plus stock everything a household needs.  If you need a ‘Waitrose hit’, SuperCor in Sotogrande has lots of special bits, especially around Christmas.  I must also point out that since moving here I have seen my weekly shopping bill literally halve, and when you are feeding a family of five that soon adds up.

There are loads of festivals and public holidays – well this is Spain – and Gibraltar has more bank holidays than any European Country, so there are lots of bonus days off. 

I think the best thing about being here is that ‘family values’ are still very much the most important element in Spanish life.  We don’t quite ‘siesta’ in our family but children are welcome pretty much everywhere and it is lovely to sit on the beach front at Sabinillas and have a superb curry at the excellent Masala Indian Restaurant and watch the children play on the beach.  I feel very safe here and when I hear stories of children in the UK being offered school blazers made in bullet proof material it rubber stamps our decision.

It would be wrong not to mention the food and drink here – there are hundreds of bars and restaurants – we are not full of burger bars at this end of the coast – many traditional Spanish restaurants still exist and some very good international cuisine.  The rustic beach bars are a must in the summer months – our favourite is on the beach at Duquesa, it goes by the name of Cubanga  it is French owned and French run and it shows.  Beautifully presented food with taste to match.  They also sell a good choice of wine including some excellent French white wine which makes a great change to the Spanish white which I don’t really rate.  If you go inland towards Casares the Aroya Honda restaurant  (which looks like a peasant shack from the road) is owned and run by Norika and Christian  the food is of the best quality and the ambiance as you dine on the terrace on a level with the cork trees you could be anywhere in the world. 

You really notice how quiet this end of the coast is compared to Torremolinos and Fuengirola in the summer months but if you want to make a trip to Marbella or La Canada (huge shopping experience) it is only 25 minutes away equidistance to Gibraltar in the other direction.

The Sunday market in Sabinillas brings people from all over – get there early – car booters, clothes, antiques, shoes, fruit and veg – you name it you can get it there.  We always head to the home made bread and croissant stall – delicious.

If you want a bit of pampering you have loads of choice.  We have membership to the Albayt Country club – lovely warm pool for winter swimming, fab gym and spa – great for the winter months.  There is a lovely restaurant and terrace and driving range where you can take the kids, although the spa is for adults only. It is worth mentioning that the yearly cost of this type of club is nothing like what you would pay in theUK.

There are lots of ways to make friends, lots of clubs, dog training, book clubs and many more.  I have met a smashing group of girls who are like minded and we always share all and any information and really help each other out.  Our neighbours here too have become great friends.  Anyone with dogs knows that it can be  very sociable. You can walk on the beaches in the winter months but the countryside walks are wonderful especially when the hills are covered in spring flowers.  We have green parrots that live in the eucalyptus trees nearby and 10 euros will get you two carrier bags of grapes off the vine and veg from the local smallholding.

The best place to get work if you’re not bi-lingual is in Gibraltar.  With the banking and gaming industry  booming there are a variety of jobs on offer. Most people commute to the border and walk across into Gibraltar. My husband certainly used to find the coastal drive from Duquesa to Gibraltar an improvement on British Rail and the London underground. Living here in Duquesa is a very convenient compromise, as accommodation in Gibraltar is not only small but also very expensive. 

 So without question our decision to move to Spain and the Duquesa area in particular has been  the best one our family has made. Our second villa has now been completed and is ready to let.  I hope I have given you an insight into life here and if you do finally take the plunge and make the move or are already here and are facing problems finding the right contacts our company THE LINK gives you all those contacts under one roof.  We offer you the simple route to accessing quality and reliable tradesmen who we know and trust to give you a professional service at competitive prices.

Written by: Katie Hancock

About the author:The Link

The Link provides resources for development and refurbishment projects in the area.  Read more about them at

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Dione said:
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 @ 5:48 PM

Your post is so encouraging. I have 2 boys aged 6 and 12 and my husband and I have decided to move to Duquesa (my dad already lives out there) After reading your post i am more excited than ever!
Thank you

John roberts said:
Saturday, November 17, 2012 @ 6:24 AM

Hi I would like to buy in Duquesa any advice would be greatly appreciated and a drink on me when I do buy, contact 07902474399 regards john

John roberts said:
Saturday, November 17, 2012 @ 6:23 AM

Hi I would like to buy in Duquesa any advice would be greatly appreciated and a drink on me when I do buy, contact 07902474399 regards john

chris said:
Sunday, April 29, 2012 @ 10:51 AM

HI, living in Sussex also right now, Keymer - Duquesa is a wonderful Port, very different from others like Banus or Sotogrande,,more 'normal' l first went there over 16 years ago when i lived in Spain then, hoping to return to live again soon..its very different now but equally as charming,,anybody got any business ideas would like to know..

chris said:
Sunday, April 29, 2012 @ 10:48 AM

HI, living in Sussex also right now, Keymer - Duquesa is a wonderful Port, very different from others like Banus or Sotogrande,,more 'normal' l first went there over 16 years ago when i lived in Spain then, hoping to return to live again soon..its very different now but equally as charming,,anybody got any business ideas would like to know..

Joanna Hyder said:
Friday, February 17, 2012 @ 2:26 PM

Im planning to go to Duquesa for a month July to August firstly has any one got any propertys to let for that period preferably a 3 bed ? also I am considering a move to spain and was wondering if any one could give me any hints as i have a 3yr old daughter due to start nursery in September but i would like to go to spain to be closer to my dad but am unsure on weather she would be alright in a Spanish school ? as i cannot afford the prices of the international schools ! if anyone can help please could you email me on thank you x

Darren Neame said:
Saturday, May 14, 2011 @ 6:26 PM

Thinking of moving down there this summer,if anyone can let me know of any 3 bed property to rent let,please drop me a line

Lynda said:
Sunday, April 17, 2011 @ 4:11 PM

Thanks Katie, your article has given me courage and hope for the future!
We plan on moving to the area this year and I'm so unsure about how we'll ever fit in or learn Spanish or make friends. But you paint such a positive picture, I feel inspired! We arrive there on a 'working' holiday next month so we can get our NEI and on the padron etc. We may even bump into you! Thanks, Lynda x

dave said:
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 @ 12:55 AM

I love the port of Duquesa and luckily I have a lovely apartment there.

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