Santa Pola is another pretty coastal town on Spain’s Costa Blanca which I visited whilst house hunting with my base in Torrevieja. As opposed to Torrevieja which all of 60 years old, Santa Pola has much more of a history and tradition which makes it, at least for me, far more attractive.
Until about 30 years ago, Santa Pola had one of the biggest fishing fleets on the Spanish coast. Sadly, the increase in the price of fuel over the last decades let to a decline in the fishing industry and today, the source of income is tourism and… salt.
Still, the harbor of Santa Pola is very picturesque and a ferry runs to the pirate island of Tabarca from Santa Pola as well as from Torrevieja. Pirates play a major part in the history of the Costa Blanca and many fortifications and castles have been built along the coastline to fend them off.
Santa Pola’s 16th century castle bears testimony to these efforts. It’s well preserved and restored and is also the location of a very interesting Maritime museum.
On the other side of the highway which links Santa Pola to Alicante lies what makes this place so special: the vast salt lagunas where to this day salt is harvested. The air has a very particular tangy smell and, what’s more: the lagunas of which there are many, are a biotope and home to many species of rare birds, among them flamingos. You can make some excursions into the Nature Reserve but some lagunas are closed to the public because they are still in operation for the salt winning process.
Far more than just a pretty tourist spot which plenty of fabulous beaches, Santa Pola breathes history. Walking the sedate streets or strolling through the lovely palm park and garden, it’s easy to mingle with the locals, eat the great variety of tapas and participate in one of the many fiestas which are celebrated in Spain throughout the year.