I have just come back from two weeks spent on Spain’s Costa Blanca in the area not far from the city of Alicante. The purpose of my stay was house hunting, that’s why I didn’t write any posts for far too long. I didn’t succeed In finding a new home (yet), but I discovered a part of Spain up until then unknown to me. The most distinguished feature of Spain’s Costa Blanca are endless beaches, sandy ones alternating with rocky ones. Mountains are to be found in the part north of Alicante and interesting salt lakes in the southern part.
My port of call was the small coastal town of Torrevieja which, until about 60 years ago didn’t even exist. All that graced the coastline was a watch tower, until visitors in the 50s started to discover the fabulous beaches and Torrevieja was built to accommodate the tourist boom. Surprisingly, it was done with taste and style. The town itself features a wonderful miles long promenade and several beaches lined with quite pretty apartment houses.
Of course, after a few days of fruitless house hunting, I needed a change and a bit of sightseeing and was delighted to discover a boat trip to the island of Tabarca. It is the smallest inhabited island in all of Spain, the count in 2011 was 68 permanent residents. What makes the island remarkable is that it’s surrounded by a Marine reserve and sure enough, halfway on the 1 ½ hour boat trip from Torrevieja, the boat stopped and we had a chance to enjoy dolphins playing around and racing the boat.
The island is all of 1700 m long and was a refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of the 18th century. Who can possibly resist the allure of a pirate island?? The inhabitants are of Genoese origin and what there is by way of historical buildings is a church, fortification walls and a lighthouse.
Disembarking, I made my way to the furthest end, the lighthouse, through desert vegetation. Despite the small size of the island and the many tourists which visit during the summer months, I found paths where I was utterly alone.
On the opposite side is a small pebble beach and the church which greets the sailors from afar. It’s all a bit run down and in decay which makes it much more romantic, but restoration is under way and a museum is soon to open.
A highlight was the best, and cheapest menu I have had in Spain. Get this: a huge mixed salad to start, followed by a fish platter, followed by an island specialty which is a kind of risotto with seafood and vegetables, followed by a choice of desert, followed by coffee and the whole meal washed down with either wine, beer or water. Total price: EUROS 15. Unbeatable and delicious.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day on the waves (the water was a bit choppy which I thrive on but some fellow passengers not so much) and on Spain’s tiniest island with a pirate history.