The Costa Blanca is one of Europe’s most travelled regions. Located along the south eastern coast of Spain, Brits have been travelling to the sun soaked shores of the Costa Blanca (White Coast) for over 50 years in search of golden sandy beaches, year round good climates (the region receives an astonishing 300 days of sunshine a year!), and the lapping waves of the Mediterranean Sea.
The region is known for its legendary nightlife. Over-development has somewhat spoiled the coastline with high rise blocks backing many of the larger beaches, but there are still pockets of natural beautiful to be find, both along its shores, and slightly inland. It’s these spots where most of the campsites are located. The glorious climate and the inexpensive nature of camping, make it an appealing option for travelers, particularly those with children.
Located between Alicante and Elche, La Marina Camping & Resort is one of the best places for families with children. Sitting along the coast, the beaches and ocean are never far away. It’s large with over a hundred pitches available for tents, motorhomes, and campervans. Alternatively, the site has permanent bungalows which are perfect for a little more comfort or for those traveling in the cooler season. One of the main attractions for families is the campsite’s Aquamarina pool which has ten amazing water slides offering kids hours of fun. For adults, there is another swimming pool surrounded by tropical Spanish greenery and a hot tub. Faccilities on the campsite including grocery store with a bakery attached, a restaurant serving up Spanish classics, and a cafe. Everything you need is right at the campsite. Prices for a pitch start around US $80 per night in high season.
Campsite Cap-Blanch is located near to the city of Alicante, making it easy to reach when you arrive at the airport. It’s huge, with enough pitches for over 200 tents, motorhomes, and caravans spread over 4 hectares. Be sure to try and grab a pitch with shade, a welcome relief from the midday Spanish heat. The campsite also has permanent bungalows and cabins for those looking for a little more comfort. Kids will be kept busy at the playground and on site sports facilities. Just down the road is the Cap-Blanch beach, and though it’s pebbles and not sand, it’s still a fine place to while away an afternoon and swim. Locals and tourists also descend upon the beach for water skiing and wind surfing. Pets are permitted in both the high and low season. The campsite boasts free WiFi in almost the whole of its grounds. It’s also accessible for disabled travelers. Prices start from US $60 per night in the high season.
The Campsite El Naranjal is located in Javea near to Alicante, also making it very easy to reach. Spread over 2.3 hectares, there are plenty of pitches for campers and motorhomes, as well as having their own permanent bungalows available for rent. It’s not as great for children, but for couples or families, there are some excellent facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, a beauty centre offering a range of treatments, a bar, a pizzeria, and a restaurant serving up some delicious Spanish dishes. Dogs are permitted in both high and low season, and there is free internet access to almost every pitch.
Though it might be difficult to drag yourself away from the campsite, particularly if there are lots of facilities, there is plenty to do and see along the Costa Blanca. To get the most out of your time here, it’s recommended that you hire a car at the airport which will save you time and money in the long run.
The Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art or MACA, houses an impressive collection of 20th century art in a beautiful Baroque former house (one of the oldest in the city). There are hundreds of pieces to look out spanning different collections, but some of the great names include Pablo Picasso and Juana Frances. Other than holidays, the museum is open between Tuesday and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and entry is free. Alternatively, visit the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts or MUBAG which houses paintings from local artists between the 16th and 19th century in the beautiful Palacio Provincial. The opening hours are the same as the MACA and entry is also free.
The palm groves (of which there are more than 200,000 trees) of Alicante make up Europe’s only palm forest, and as such as been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best places to see these palms is in the Huerto del Cura orchard , home to more than 500 palms of differing species including the rare imperial palm.
The Canelobre Caves are just outside the town of Busot near to Alicante. Naturally carved into the mountain over thousands of years, travelers can admire the huge stalactites and stalagmites which hang from the caves interior. On a guided tour, you will be taken an enormous cave, the highest in Spain at over 70 metres. It’s open every day other than Mondays, and entrance including a guided is US $10 or US $6 for children.
Most people are unaware that the region has a fine history of wine production. Further inland, it’s possible to visit these vineyards to learn about the process of wine production and taste some excellent vintages, usually accompanied by delicious local produce like olives. Head for Vinalopo which has some of the best vineyards.
One of the most popular attractions for tourists is the Guadalest Valley, a beautiful landscape of waterfalls and stark Spanish hillsides. In the centre is the pretty little village of Guadalest which has plenty to offer travelers including several museums, a castle, cafes, shops, and spectacular views down over the Spanish coastline.
Though Alicante isn’t known for its marine life, the Tabarca marine reserve has a wealth of underwater creatures to snorkel with including turtles, schools of colourful fish, crabs, and lobsters. Throughout the high season, there are several boats departing for Tabarca Island each day. Just be sure to get the last one back, or you’ll be stuck on the island for the night.
If you’re going with kids, there is nowhere better than the three theme parks dotted along the Costa Blanca. These include the Mundomar, Terra Natura, and Aqualandia, which has a variety of water slides to keep children occupied for hours.
With hundreds of miles of coastline along the Costa Blanca, it’s not hard to find beaches away from the hordes of crowds which descend along Alicante’s main beach. San Juan beach is over 5 kilometres long and is fantastically clean. It’s not hard to find a quiet spot along the beaches are the waters are clear and warm. Albufereta Beach is relatively small measuring in a just over half a kilometre, but is well worth visiting for the beautiful palms which back it and provide shade through the summer months. There are bus and train routes from Alicante to Albufereta. Moraig Beach is well worth the effort to reach. Locals and tourists come to the beach located on Benitachell Cove to swim and snorkel with the marine life. If you are staying in a campsite near Benidorm, try Finestrat Beach which is must quieter than the city’s main offering and is much more suitable for families. For adults who want to bare it all, try Ambolo Beach near the town of Javea. This 300 metre nudist beach is pristine, and made up of pebbles, much more suitable than sand!
The food along the tourist centres of Benidorm and Alicante is dominated by chips and burgers to satisfy the British holidaymakers, but for those looking for something a little more Spanish, the region has a wealth of excellent produce and the Spanish dishes here are delicious.
Over the years, layers of influence from the Moors, Greeks, and Catalans, have left their mark on the cuisine. Being near the coast, it’s not surprising that seafood is found on most menus. Seafood is never cheap, but the fresh lobster, monkfish tails, prawns, mussels, and clams are some of the finest quality in the country and shouldn’t be missed.
Paella originates from just up the road in Valencia, and is popular here. Though it originally was made from chicken, the seafood versions with prawns, clams, and squid are mouth watering, particularly good paired with sangria made from local wine.
Further inland, the animals live in the Spanish countryside and are excellent quality. Look out for rabbit and lamb stews cooked in ripe Spanish tomatoes and olive oil, which can be mopped up with freshly baked bread.
If you’re looking for a dessert, be sure to try the ice cream made from almonds which finishes a meal nicely.
To biggest gateway to the Costa Blanca is Alicante. The airport is served by flights from all over Europe, which are inexpensive, particularly during the low season. Ryanair, EasyJet, Jet2, and other charter airlines have daily flights throughout the year, and multiple flights during high season. Return flights cost around US $150 or so. There are also some direct flights to Benidorm.
All the campsites are located outside the city, and therefore the easiest way to reach them is to hire a car. Inside the terminal, most of the international car rental firms including Budget and Hertz are located. It’s recommended that you book these in advance to ensure you get the best possible price.