Whether you want to live in Spain or just visit, the Costa Blanca is an excellent choice. Don’t expect lots of green fields, though. You need rain for that, and there isn’t a lot of it on the Costa Blanca. Whatever else you’re looking for though, you’ll find it here – beaches and watersports, shopping, nightlife, culture, natural history, historical monuments, fine food and wine or a variety of tapas and, of course, Paella. The Costa Blanca is in the Valencia region and Valencia is the spiritual home of Paella. If city life floats your boat, there’s Alicante, Murcia, Torrevieja and Elche, all of which manage to be both big and intimate at the same time.
Perhaps you prefer small villages and towns? You’ll stumble on hundreds as you drive through the region. Each one has its own unique charm. Algorfa, near Torrevieja, nestles in the shade of the Escotera Mountain and is surrounded by orange and lemon groves. Rojales is a small town on the River Segura with a huge personality. Almoradi is a lovely town with Moorish influences. Visit the huge market on Saturday, and check out the trees in the town square. Each one is hollowed out in the centre of the foliage, with a floodlight set into it. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else.
If you like beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Most of the beaches on the Costa Blanca boast fine golden sand. The jewel in the crown is Guardamar, with its 14 kilometres of unspoilt shore. Not a skyscraper hotel in sight! Then there’s La Marina, Punta Prima, Playa Flamenca – the list goes on. And with 320 days of sunshine a year, you should find time to sample as many beaches as you want.
For the Shopaholics, there are the huge shopping centres in Alicante, Murcia and Torrevieja. Murcia boasts over 300 major stores, many of them familiar English names such as Primark, Ikea, Zara and H amp; M. Then there are the daily markets. There are at least 3 to choose from every day, including Sunday, when the huge Lemon Tree Road Market, near Guardamar, attracts people from all over the region. It’s a day out on its own. As well as everything you might wish to buy, there are lots of cafeterias and bodegas where you can enjoy drinks, breakfast and lunch at very reasonable prices.
The area around Torrevieja is dominated by 2 large salt lakes, La Mata and Santa Pola. Salt has been extracted here since Roman times, and you’ll see big white mountains of it as you travel around. The salt lakes are home to dozens of species of water fowl, and there is a big nature reserve at Santa Pola. You can walk all around the lake, and there are hides for you to observe the wildlife unnoticed. As the lake is right on the coast, you can go for a swim to cool down after your walk. If you’re in Spain in a motor home, you can even park up for a night or two at Santa Pola, free of charge.
With the salt lake on one side of you, and the Mediterranean on the other, you’ll go a long way to find a better view!
For a really relaxed way to view the Costa Blanca, book a coach tour. They are very reasonable – between 10 and 15 euros for a full day – and there is a varied programme on offer, with pick up points all across the area.
Visit Guadalest, a beautiful village in the mountains above Benidorm. All the houses and shops are set into the mountains, and the views are stunning. This is the place to buy your souvenirs, as the prices are cheaper than on the coast. If you want to visit the larger towns and cities in the area, a coach tour is probably your best option, as parking can be virtually impossible between June and October. In addition, the coaches will drop you off at the main tourist attraction, saving you a lot of walking in the Costa Blanca heat.
Terra Mitica, on the outskirts of Benidorm, is the area’s main theme park. With themed areas Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iberia and The Islands, it’s educational as well as entertaining. There are rides and shows to entertain you, but Disney World it isn’t. Then again, the prices are very reasonable, and you can spend a full day there. If you’re staying in Benidorm, it’s better (and cheaper) to make your own way there rather than book an excursion.
For an extra special night out, try a dinner and cabaret at the Benidorm Palace. It will cost you around 40 euros,but you get a fabulous evening’s entertainment, and the food is great. However, you don’t need to pay for entertainment at all, as even the smaller resorts have a wide variety of live entertainment, discos, karaoke and quiz nights throughout the season.
These are just some of the diversions on offer in this lovely part of Spain. I hope I’ve inspired you to try it for yourself.