Beaches and Boots: Exploring the Best of the Costa Blanca
Spain’s 200 kilometers of white sandy coastline might seem an unlikely destination for a rugged adventurer, but the Costa Blanca hugs a stratified landscape of rises, ridges and mountains. From salt flats teeming with birdlife to wave-dashed coves and stark clifftops, this area of Spain so often accused of being overdeveloped could just be the ultimate remedy for travelers with a serious case of itchy feet.
Assumptions about Benidorm usually entail lobster-skinned Brits and sun-loungers, but this would only be half the story of this beautiful shoreline. Benidorm is webbed with hiking and walking routes suitable for all ability levels. Less than a 30 minute drive out of the high rise skyline and its shining buildings will seem dwarfed by the Puig Campana Mountain, a challenging 5–8 hour hike which reaches an altitude of 1,406 meters. An easier alternative, the nearby Sierra Helada Nature Park has routes running right along its dramatic cliffs, from Benidorm to the lighthouse in Albir. Fans of climbing might prefer Ponoig Mountain. Also known as “the sleeping lion,” this limestone rock reaches 600 meters in height.
This coastal town in Alicante lies at the foot of the Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifac, making it an ideal for adventures in the surrounding countryside. The town is characterized by the Peñon de Ifach, a hulking rock which punches out from the depths of the Med 332 meters above sea level.
Birdwatchers will enjoy ruffling their feathers at the nearby salt lake, home to 173 species of bird including flamingos. The true allure of Calpe, though, is its walking trail, which streams over the northern side of the Peñon de Ifach rock, taking in vantage points surrounded by windblown pines, and a challenging tunnel that penetrates right through the calcareous rock.
Also known as Xabea, this market town has just approximately 33,000 inhabitants, but the pretty beaches and coves make it a perfect place to explore on foot. A landscape of monasteries and gently whisking windmills surrounds the historic port, and its lively market sells fresh seafood daily. For walkers, there are five routes cobwebbing this area, totaling 45 kilometers of pedestrian potential. The most rigorous of these traces a path from Cabo de San Antonio to the top of Montgo mountain, and incorporates steady climbs, a sea cave and the 16th century Torre del Gerro watchtower. For a more sedate excursion, walk up the modest 150 meters to the summit of Ermita de Santa Llúcia for
delicious panoramic views.
Unhurried little El Campello lies a mere 20 kilometers from Alicante, but its tranquil harbor and mountain views feel half a world away. As well as its gorgeous beach and 16th century watchtower, the town has a selection of restaurants and bars, and the relaxed Les Puntes de Gosálvez trail. Unique plants, gentle elevations and mesmerizing views make this 6 kilometer hike feel more like an amble.
This is just a selection of the beauty that the Costa Brava has to offer explorers or even those who just want to relax in quaint locations. Why not be one of those people?