It may be one of Europe's busiest destinations, but there are still plenty of highlights along Spain's Costa del Sol for the discerning holidaygoer, says JILL STARLEY-GRAINGER
BEST FOR TODDLERS: ESTEPONA
This pretty, sheltered horseshoe-shaped cove is safe and shallow with soft sand, making it a winner with families. Expect to see lots of sandcastle building and squealing as children splash about at the water's edge or learn to swim with their parents a bit further out.
This is one of the few Costa del Sol beaches to face west, so afternoons are just that bit longer, and great for children who don't want to come in from the water, and for parents who want to linger on the sandy beach.
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Head to one of the "chiringuito" beach bars for fish, tapas and snacks. Those with pushchairs will appreciate the good access via paths from the car park.
Belgravia Club Estepona (0208 827 1998/ownersdirect.co.uk) is a two-bedroom apartment located in a gated complex three minutes walk from Estepona beach.
Seven nights from £300 (six sharing), self-catering. Property ref: S7630.
BEST FOR GOLF WIDOWS: LA FONTANILLA BEACH
While your other half is playing a round or three on one of Marbella's award-winning golf courses, grab a sunlounger on this bustling urban beach close to Marbella's glitzy marina, Puerto Banos.
Backed by palm trees, chic bars and smart restaurants, don your most stylish swimsuit and kaftan ensemble for seaside strolls and plenty of people-watching opportunities.
Go for a swim in the safe water, thanks to new breakwaters, and when you need a break from the sun, pop on your designer sunglasses and head along to the chi-chi shops at the nearby marina where you may spot star locals Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.
For a sneak peek at the Costa's next hotspot, head east to La Bajadilla Marina, which is undergoing a revamp that will see it rival Puerto Banºs as the A-listers' harbour of choice.
The Town House (dialling from the UK: 0034 952 901 791/sawdays.co.uk) is a historic nine-bedroom family home in Marbella's Old Town which boasts an appealing mix of Moorish and modern design.
Doubles from £85 per night (two sharing), room only.
BEST FOR UNSPOILT BEACHES: CABOPINO BEACH
The rolling Artola sand dunes, dotted with seagrasses, low-lying trees and flowering shrubs, back this pristine beach.
There's no need for a sunlounger: the white sand here is so fine you can just throw down your towel and slap on the SPF.
For lunch or a drink, stroll to the end of the beach where a cluster of open-air bars and restaurants provide freshly grilled seafood lunches and jugs of sangria.
Development has been strictly controlled here with only a cluster of high-rise buildings at one end of the beach. The vibe is relaxed and laid-back, making it great for couples who want some peace and quiet. It's also popular with nudists.
Cavallino Penthouse Apartment (637 521 657/ marbpent.com), is a lovely two-bedroom apartment with a huge wrap-around terrace. It is situated behind the small yacht-filled harbour, just a short stroll from the beach.
Seven nights from £395 (six sharing), self-catering.
BEST FOR TEENAGERS: LOS BOLICHES DES FUENGIROLA
You'll be less likely to hear those familiar words "I'm bored" during a holiday in the lively resort of Fuengirola.
Keep teenagers happy at the former fishing village of Los Boliches, now engulfed by sprawling Fuengirola with its watersports, restaurants serving full English breakfasts and bustling bars.
There are five miles of blue-flag beaches where you can go for a jog or bike along while your older children try out the jet skis or pedalos.
Pick up some bargains at the lively street market every Tuesday at Avenida Jesus Santos Rein or explore the inland white village of Mijas with its narrow, cobbled streets.
If you fancy a flutter watch the late-night horse racing at Hip³dromo Costa Del Sol near Mijas. The modern and spacious Myramar Fuengirola Hotel and Apartments, available through Thomson (0871 231 4691/thomson.co.uk), is just a short stroll from the centre of the resort and nearest stretch of beach.
Seven nights from £678 (two sharing), self-catering.
BEST FOR ACTIVE TYPES: EL CANUELO
Situated in a nature reserve at the foot of the Maro cliffs at the eastern extreme of the Costa del Sol, the sea here is exceptionally clear and rich in marine life, perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
The craggy headland, crowned by a watchtower, also makes it one of the best spots for diving.
There are two beach bars serving cooling cocktails and great seafood. Explore the pretty town of Nerja, eight miles away, with its whitewashed houses, narrow streets, palm tree-lined promenade and ancient caves a few miles out of town.
Stay nearby at Casa Chill Out (homeaway.co.uk), a three-bedroom self-catering apartment with communal pool and sunny terrace offering spectacular views of the mountain backdrop.
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Seven nights from £240 (sleeps four), self-catering.
GETTING THERE easyJet (0843 104 1000/easyjet.com) offers return flights to M¡laga from £70.
Costa del Sol Tourist Board: 952 126 272/visitcostadelsol.com