Since the 1970s the areas of Spanish coast and countryside protected or marked out for the value of their landscape and wildlife have increased enormously, highlighting their importance and value previously overlooked. There are various classifications parquet natural and parquet natural Terrestre – maritime, the latter covering both sea and shore which are most stringently protected. Along the coast itself, some capes and offshore islands have kept a remarkable marine life which flourishes on the sea grass. It used to cover the entire continental platform, but these days only left in patches.
Here are some of the areas of natural beauty we can all visit whilst exploring the Costa Blanca in Spain.
Isla de Tabarca.
Tabarca is the only inhabited island on the Costa Blanca. There are beautiful pebbly coves, a sandy bay and charming old town with a little church right on the water’s edge. It is still possible to see turtles and although classed as a marine reserve Tabarca does have controlled public access The best point of departure is from Santa Pola either by water taxi, which is the quickest route or a slower trip on one of the tour boats which leave and return on a regular basis. Tabarca is a popular place to swim or snorkel and can get crowded in the Summertime. There are some lovely restaurants where the local paella is a popular dish and it is worth noting, when booking your boat trip across, lunch can also be paid for. The trip organisers at Santa Pola has the details. All in all, a lovely day spent on this charming island is a must for your holiday itinerary on the Costa Blanca.
The larger natural parks within the Costa Blanca are the pine forests of the Sierra Espuña which is the second largest park in Spain. This magnificent range of pineclad mountains is one of the few green corners of arid Mercia. Wonderful walking trails offer startling glimpses of forested slopes and rocky outcrops. Eagles, Hawkes and Vultures fly silently above the treetops. The park is rich in bird life particularly raptors. Among them Golden Booted and Bonnellis Eagles, Tawny and Eagle owls, Peregrine Falcon, Duponts Lark Goshawk and Hawk Owl. A delight for those budding ornithologists amongst us. Throughout the park there is a series of viewing points called miradors which offer staggering views over peaks, forest and riverbeds. The drive through the park is extraordinary, the road twists up through the Collado Bermejo offering a wonderful panorama of jutting crags and plunging valleys. If you enter the park from the town of Alhama de Murcia this road passes the visitors centre where you can pick up maps and information. Snow wells can be found in the North West of the park and circular brick huts which were used to store snow, which was packed into ice and transported by donkey to the towns to make ice cream. They were used from the 16th century right up until the 1920s. Sheep, Squirrels, Bats, Wild Boars and the very rare siting of Mountain cats are all residents of the park. Fuente del Hielo is a lovely, inexpensive café which is near the visitor’s centre. A great place to stop for lunch serving good grilled local meats and fish. Wild Boar can often be seen snuffling fearlessly at the doorway for crumbs.
The regional park of Calblanque is one of Murcias best kept secrets. Just a few minutes’ drive from the Mar Menor, this stunning stretch of unspoilt coastline boasts hidden coves and gorgeous sandy beaches with perfectly clear waters. The golden beaches and quiet coves are peaceful even in the height of the tourist season. Wooden walkways traverse Calblanques fragile dune system fossilized over millions of years and sculptured by wind and sea into fascinating and unusual shapes. The turquoise waters are perfect for diving and snorkelling. There are walking and mountain-biking trails with routes available from the park office. During the Spring the hills of Calblanque are carpeted with wildflowers. Among the pine forests are rarer trees including one of the last surviving cypress groves in Spain. The salt lakes are a major nesting area for aquatic resident and migratory birds. The waters contain the brilliantly striped Fartet, an unusual and endangered fish. Calblanque is particularly rich in bird life with eagles, Owls, Gulls, green Woodpecker as well as Flamingos, and several varieties of Heron and Plover. Saying all of this Calblanque is poorly signed posted. The best route it’s to take the Cartagena – La manga motorway leaving at the Calblanque exit about one km after los Belones, the dirt road leads to the visitor centre. The beaches do not have any wheelchair access.
Cap de la Nau.
This is a perfect example of the Costa Blanca. A rugged cape with tiny, magical coves many accessible only by boat and steep cliffs. Offering magnificent views along the whole coastline. This area is good for snorkelling, a diving pontoon and a couple of breezy beach bars.
Parque Natural del Montgó.
This pale, compact group of mountains loom high above the seaside resorts of Denia and Javea. Delightful walking trails meander through flower – strewn scrubs and woodlands, past ancient caves and up to stunning view – points that gaze out across the Sierra and over the sea.
Ciudad Encantada de Bolnuevo – The Enchanted village of Bolnuevo.
This little fishing village of Bolnuevo houses a fine, dark sandy beach and a series of beautiful coves to the South. Accessed by a winding road, hugging the cliffs these secret coves are well off the beaten track. Behind the main beach is the Ciudad Encantada or enchanted city showing bizarre rock formations eroded by the wind and sea into strange but wonderful shapes. A beautiful place to watch the rocks melt magically into faces, cathedrals or animals as you pass between them. A delight for all ages.
Penyal d´Ifach, Calpe.
This sheer, impregnable crag dominating the bay of Calpe has become the symbol of the Costa Blanca. Once a notorious pirate hideout, it is now a protected natural park perfumed with lavender and wildflowers A steep trail zig zags up then burrowing through a tunnel cut into the rock, winding to a viewing point at the summit. A note of caution. The first section of the trail is suitable for walkers at all levels but after the tunnel it becomes increasingly difficult. There are three viewing points where you may catch a glimpse of Eleanoras Falcon, the Peregrine Falcon, the Shag and the Norther gannet. There are several species of Gull gliding on the wind thermals. Calpe port is a cheerful mixture of yachts and battered fishing boats which can be viewed from above and then visited for a refreshing ice cream or welcome refreshments after an exhausting climb.
Las Fuentes del Algar – Fonts d´Algar.
Tucked away in an orchard lined valley, these enchanting waterfalls spill down the hillside and form a series of delightful natural swimming pools. Buried in a jungle green valley filled with citrus and medlar groves the water alternates between cascades and pools running between riverbanks covered with pink Oleander and Bougainvillea in the Summer. Starting at the lowest and most spectacular waterfall and natural bathing pool you can climb up alongside the mountain stream and then, where the path runs out, wade on up to the top. Swimming is a delight here but a word of warning, even in the height of Summer the water can be very cold and is sure to cause you to catch your breath upon entering. There are also many nooks and crannies for picnicking and enjoying the lovely fresh air and rush of the water churning out from the rocks.
Isla de Benidorm.
Legend has it that a curious notch “missing” from the mountains behind Benidorm was torn out and tossed into the bay by a despairing giant who had been told his beloved would die before sun set. By throwing out this notch into the sea he gave her a few more moments of life. This rock became the Isla de Benidorm. This little island in the middle of Benidorm Bay is one of natural beauty and a marine reserve home to a fantastic array of sea life from Sea Anemones, Octopus, Stingray and Scorpion Fish. The island is also inhabited by wild peacocks. Boat trips can be taken from the mainland to the island to visit the wildlife and natural beauty.