Empuriabrava appears as a tourism initiative in the municipality of Castelló de Empurias at the beginning of the 1960s. The project implies the creation of a residential marina (similar in concept to Port Grimaud in France, a project launched a few years earlier on the Cote d’Azur), with a navigable canal network and a set of touristic housing units for which the ability to moor a boat at the door was seen as a relevant asset. The project also includes a sports airfield. Most of the lots are occupied today, with a relevant seasonality in use. The 15.000 housing units have slightly less than 8.000 registered residents (2011), but can reach a high season population nearing 80.000.
The proposed modification to the Spanish Littoral Law includes specific provisions for this case, singular on a national scale, trying to provide legal assurances to home and landowners. Up to that date, the public domain and its protection zones were defined taking into account the high tide lines, a concept with a clear impact as the canals in this area are subject to the tides. This has been polemic in the debate over that law and its impact on tourism.