Beaches, Alicante to Santa Pola; Spain
Costa Blanca beaches are up there with the best of them. It's not just the sand. It's everything else that goes with it. Local beaches, though different, are almost as good as the best Caribbean beaches without the humidity or the 12-hour flight.
When you think of ideas for a holiday in Spain, things-to-do besides 'just going to the beach' comes to mind. What little pocket of Spain allows you more than you bargain for when it comes to top ideas for a holiday in Spain?
There are so many beaches in Spain, that you're spoiled for choice. Many Costa Blanca beaches are blue-flagged meaning they are safe and protected, and have many services, even handicapped facilities.
And, many are within 10 minutes of our place in Perleta. Each has its own parameters, may it be distance from where you've parked the car (it's free parking next to the beaches of Santa Pola), the length of beach you're accustomed to, an urban variety, or the idea of fighting your way across golden dunes to a wild natural stretch of sandy beach, it's all here on the doorstep, ready to enjoy.
Or, perhaps it's the availability of chiringuitos (beach bar/shacks that have beer on tap), or maybe, perhaps like Robinson Crusoe it's the natural aspect that interests you on your holiday.
There are more than 15 kilometres of sandy beaches waiting for you, within in easy reach from Perleta Magic. These are all very safe to enjoy swimming, diving and other water sports, and are all under the careful management of the local Santa Pola ayuntamiento (council).
Visitors are well-served for refreshment from the chiringuitos as they also serve locally-caught fish, paellas, snacks, ice cream as well as cold beers and an assortment of other drinks. Some chiringuitos rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and often surf boards. Whereas locals do their own thing and take ample supplies with them; visitors are typically astounded at the amount of food the family next to them have carted from home... and they eat all of it..
To begin with, we start at the northern end. Closer to Alicante airport:
- Playa del Saladar… 1.5km of fine golden sand in front of the Urbanova complex
- Las Arenales del Sol beach... 3km of fine golden sand in front of the Las Arenales urbanisation
- Carabassi, 4km long, deep beach of fine sand with wild natural and unspoilt sand dunes backed by pine trees, in the shadow of Gran Alacant on the hill* behind
Alicante City is just across the water in the background; typical seasonal chiringuito (beach bar) in the foreground
The elevated walkway from the road is to protect the flora and fauna- see how deep the beach is
Tracing a finger on the map further south towards Santa Pola, the land mass pushes outwards and upwards (about 200m, *working light house on top). There is no urban development at the waters edge here. Where Carabassi ends, this area begins: a few pockets of sand, but it's more tide-pools and low rocks backed by wild growing cypress trees. The narrow road navigates through the cypresses to link up to Santa Pola city limit 3.5 kilometres later.
Excellent - frozen margarita.
Seasonal chiringuitos in this spot tend to be huge, as not being near urbanisations mean they are permitted to hold spectacular music events which are wildly popular. Here's Murray relaxing at one of them. [Embarcadero de Lucia]
In this particular spot, many Spanish families on holiday bring everything for a sun-up to sun-down day next to the water. Cars and vans arrive early in the morning to get the best spots.
Shade is the first order: a huge sun umbrella or a fold-up open-sided tent, or even tarpaulins stretched between the vehicles, and a huge assortment of gear is trundled out to make it just right.
Typically tables, chairs, and a barbecue, and enough food to feed a military invasion: picnic foods, all wrapped up in clingfilm like chorizos, jamon, pasta with clams, freshly cooked fish, squid and salads of every description, as well as pastries, chips, nuts, choclate and other sweets... and of course raw meat, fish and kebab skewers for the barbecue... perhaps even or even a pollo asado or three, as in freshly cooked rotisserie chicken, falling of the bones, so succulent and juicy. The pic to the right - the shop is aptly named "The House of the Roasted Chicken", because that is all it makes. Pollo Asado shops are found all over Spain, everywhere.
In some cases there’s more: cooler boxes of ice (beer?) stacked up, beer fridges, full on stereo systems and hanging lights. Paddle boards, windsurfers, and kite surfers, plus the occasional small boat and outboard which need manhandling as there is no boat ramp. And of course the huge extended family and friends… and a lot of happy noise.
In the off-peak months, this area is very popular for fishing. Further around the point to Santa Pola city limit is where the urbanisation of Santa Pola del Este starts. And at this point you'll see in front of you the Island of Tabarca, at its' closest to the mainland.
You'd swear that you could even make it to Tabarca swimming. As a matter of fact there is an annual Tabarca to Santa Pola ocean swim contest if you are that keen, and 2016 is the events' 13th year.
Santa Pola del Este has short half-moon shaped sandy stretches, with the crescent tips fortified so as to retain the sand, and backed by pedestrian/cycle pathways; none of the up-market houses have absolute waterfront - it's a more quiet and shared arrangement. These smaller half-moons don’t have a designation other than ‘beaches at Santa Pola del Este’.
However, out of del Este and into Santa Pola properly, we find wider and named urban beaches, 11 kilometres worth of sand with bars and restaurants within easy reach :
- Playa Varadero
- Calas Santiago Bernabeu
- Playa Levante (shown 1st right)
- Gran Playa
- Playa Lisa,
- Playa Tamarit,
Urban chiringuitos are mostly permanent structures just off the pathways whereas the non-urban chiringuitos are temporary and erected just for the summer season.
One of the many half-moon beaches at Santa Pola del Este.
Just beyond the southern city limit, Playa Tamarit becomes Playa La Gola and continues southwards toward La Marina, although no vehicular access – it's on foot only, and there are no services down there ... so you can be assured of having no competition for space, but take supplies with you. The beach line actually stretches from Santa Pola all the way down to Torrevieja, some 17 kilometres in all. The next usable beaches from La Gola is down in La Marina, namely Playa del Pinet and Platja del Marina (Catalan spelling).
Costa Blanca beaches in general are of high standard, but unless you love the beach no matter what, is there anything else? In Santa Pola's case, the bay off its' beaches is perfect for kite-surfing and wind-surfing, pitting skill and agility against forces of nature. Wind-surfer and kite-surfer schools and services are on Gran Playa, whereas enthusiasts take over the entire Playa La Gola as it is almost totally void of swimmers... the many colours of the kites can be seen from the N-332 coastal road, and sometimes as far away as La Marina (10km south). World championships in both sports are annual events here.
World Championship surf-sailing 2009
...kite-surfers getting their stuff ready...