Santa Clara Island

passport-memorandum-isla-santa-claraPhoto: The Passport Memorandum

Few cities can lay claim to an island smack bang in the centre of their bays and San Sebastián is one of them. Enjoy its tiny beach with views of the city, a stroll to the singular lighthouse building, the paths with their picnic areas or a coffee sitting in the sun outside a bar. Close to the bay's beaches, it is also possible to swim out there all year round.

motoras-de-la-isla-isla-santa-claraPhoto: Motoras de la isla

Ondarreta is the point of departure for swimming the half-kilometre crossing to Santa Clara Island. The journey is a real adventure which many parents do together with their kids. There are several platforms at the halfway point (the famous ‘gabarrones’) withtrampolines and slides, where you can have a rest.

motoras-de-la-isla-isla-santa-clara-playaPhoto: Motoras de la isla

The island, declared to be a Historical National Interest Site 40 years ago, has bars, restaurants and life guards in the summer so you can swim off the jetty or the beach or in its hidden nooks. A boat service runs to and from the Island at Easter and from 1st June to 30th September.


A few intriguing facts about Santa Clara Island

  • When the plague ravaged the city in 1597, infected people were moved to the Santa Clara Island chapel. The Santa Clara chapel previously stood on the current site of the lighthouse.
  • The island is home to the San Sebastian Iberian wall lizard or the Santa Clara Island lizard (Podarcis hispanicus sebastiani), an endemic subspecies only found on Santa Clara Island and on Mount Urgull.
  • The island has its own celebration. At the end of summer, September sees a meal organised by an association of friends of the island, along with competitions, characters with oversized heads... A great atmosphere is guaranteed!