Although tennis might be his first love, clearly it’s the unmistakable lure of the sea that captures the heart of Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal. From the golden beaches of Majorca to the coral reefs of Mexico, a beach holiday provides a welcome respite from the intense glare of the camera, constant travel, and the preparation and stress of tournament play. “I am passionate about nature and love the sea,” the international champion notes. “When I am on holiday travel, I always spend my vacation on water.”
And while his travels take him everywhere from Wimbledon’s Centre Court to Melbourne’s Australian Open, Majorca is the place where he is happiest. Like a proud patriot, the handsome 26-year-old star beams when you ask about his homeland, exclaiming in his accented English, “Majorca is my favorite place in the world; I love Majorca!” Traveling eight months out of the year, “Rafa” returns to his home near Manacor, the second largest Mediterranean town off the coast of Spain, famous for its coves, street markets, large manor houses, and the birthplace of one of the greatest tennis players in the world.
Growing up in the small village where his longtime friends and family still reside gives Nadal a normalcy and a place to relax at the local beaches, play golf, and dine at his family-owned restaurant, Sa Punta. “I particularly love the seafood, and the Mediterranean has the best red shrimp,” he recommends. His close-knit family provides the glue that holds it all together. As Nadal wrote in his autobiography, Rafa: My Story (Hyperion, 2011), “I can never repay my parents for what they have given me, but the best thing I can do for them is try and remain faithful to the values they’ve instilled in me, try to be ‘good people,’ because I know nothing would hurt them more or make them feel more betrayed than if I were not.” Uncle Toni Nadal, who handed him his first racquet at the age of 3 and has been his professional coach ever since, lives close to Nadal in the town of Porto Cristo.
With his penchant for the ocean, it’s no wonder Nadal recently entered a partnership with AMResorts’ Secrets and Sunscape Resorts & Spas, which operates Secrets Aura Cozumel and its sister resort, Sunscape Sabor Cozumel. “I came to know about this place a few years ago, and the truth is that I loved [it],” he says. “From now on, Cozumel is my second home; the sea is a source of joy, and here I could spend some fantastic days. My passion for nature and the sea makes this, apart from being an economic investment, an emotional investment.”
Located just 12 miles off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Cozumel island, Secrets Aura Cozumel boasts the largest beachfront on the island, where guests can swim up to their contemporary suites via lap pools, or if you are Nadal, enjoy the two-story Ocean View Solarium & Pool Suite, complete with a rooftop infinity pool and incredible ocean views. “It’s very nice and close to the beach and the best place in the world to scuba dive,” Nadal says. Snorkeling and scuba diving in Cozumel’s world-renowned coral reefs are also popular island activities. Nadal admits he was scared the first time he went scuba diving. “I have had good teachers and now enjoy it.” (Interestingly, he admits to a fear of thunder, dogs, spiders, and motorcycles as well. He also sleeps with the lights on.)