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Discover the unknown Costa Blanca

The sun-baked Costa Blanca is a 170 mile stretch of white sandy blue flagged beaches, bright blue skies, the sparkling Mediterranean on Spain's east coast, centred on Alicante and running from Denia in the north to Mazarrón in the south. It's a wonderful place for a holiday.There's plenty to do throughout the Costa Blanca.If a fantastic Mediterranean environment was all the Costa Blanca had to offer, it would be enough for most people.

But in fact there's plenty more to attract you. For a start, the high-rise town of Benidorm has its own attractions if you are seeking entertainment on a large scale, but it isn't typical of the Costa Blanca.Up and down the coast there's a huge variety of water sports on offer, from dinghy sailing to kite-surfing.

If that's not enough to keep the family amused, there are plenty of other choices, from go-karting, quad bikes, golf, mountain climbing to the massive and thrilling Terra Mitica water theme park.Fantastic walking - and fascinating villages to explore by car.If your tastes incline more towards the countryside, you will soon discover the other side to the Costa Blanca. Those limestone hills and cliffs pretty soon turn into mountains as you head inland.

They provide fantastic walking country, with well-marked paths. One example is a circular route in and literally through the Siena de Bernia, because part of the path is a narrow, low natural tunnel pierced through the actual mountain ridge.Even if you don't want to go walking, it's well worthwhile exploring inland by car. Some of the villages are well known ? the unique Guadalest with its cliff hanging buildings, as well as Castel de Casrels. On an inland drive, you're guaranteed amazing views and beautiful countryside.

And one nice aspect of this part of Spain is that you're never far from a restaurant, often offering a memorable lunch on a shady terrace with stunning views.Try the 'Lemon Train'.Not that you necessarily need a car to enjoy the Costa Blanca. There's a charming narrow gauge Railway called the 'Lemon Train' that sways and rattles all the way from Alicante to Denia, with stations at all the main towns, simply a must to experience.It's worthwhile as an experience in itself because it gives a quite different view of the countryside, away from the main roads, and can be quite exciting as it plunges through tunnels and over bridges. But it's also worth taking the train into Alicante for a city awayday ? it's an impressive, vibrant city with an attractive waterfront and great shopping and restaurants.

Choose a charming town with its own character.Which Costa Blanca town should you choose for your holiday - Javea, Moraira, Denia, Calpe or Altea? They all have their individual charms.Javea is split between the old town and the newer Arinal beaches.

The town spreads up the slopes of Montgo, the mountain that dominates the view inland. Javea is a very pleasant town with nice beaches, good restaurants and an historic old centre and port.Moraira is smaller and doesn't have so much of an old centre, having grown from a small fishing village.

The growth has been very well controlled, with no high rise building. Moraira is very friendly and stylish, with a feeling of exclusivity to it. The small El Portet beach - perfect for young children or watching the sun go down- is backed by a small fringe of restaurants which are great for lunch. Spectacular scenery abounds and a most wonderful meal can be had at the Belgian-owned Dolphin Restaurant in the rocks.Denia is another town with a castle, great beach and an attractive tree-lined centre. It has a large marina, a port for embarking to some of the Balearic Islands and a super fish market on the front, where opposite there are very good quality inexpensive family restaurants, including pizza and pasta.

Inland lie small towns like Orba and Pedreguer, as well as the Jalón Valley, where the almond blossom is quite stunning in February and March. Restaurants with inexpensive, yet good quality food abound in these very peaceful inland areas, so it's well worth a trip to explore.Calpe is an interestingly different town. It has two huge and several smaller beaches and long traffic-free promenades that wind behind them.

Walk far enough along the town beach promenade and you reach the thriving fishing harbour. The Peñon de Ifach (huge rock) is a bird sanctuary that soars 1,000 feet vertically from the sea is a must to walk around. Also towering over Calpe, but dwarfed by the Peñon, are high-rise apartment blocks.

They're not to everyone's taste, but many provide superb views and are closer to the sea than any villa. Anyway, to compensate, there's a painstakingly restored old town.Altea is a charming town with a particularly fine hilltop old centre with a large central blue tiled roof church of some distinction and can be seen from a great distance. Small select good restaurants run along the promenade and up into the old town. This town - like the others - has a weekly market, which is well frequented.And, no matter which town you choose, they are all easily reachable in a very short time.

Try a villa holiday in the unspoilt Costa Blanca.Despite the non-stop building of the last 30 years or so, the Costa Blanca doesn't, for the most part, feel over-developed or spoilt. Each of the towns and country areas has its own character and its own fans. If you don't know the Costa Blanca, get out there now, hire a villa and car and prepare to explore and enjoy yourself.

Sports, entertainment, heritage, food or just relaxation - it's all here on the Costa Blanca.

.Bruce Gibson is owner of Villaspain - http://www. a long established, though modern, friendly local Spanish villa rental agency. The company fully manages villa rentals on behalf of private villa owners along the Costa Blanca, covering the areas of Altea, Calpe, Moraira, Javea and Denia.

By: Bruce Gibson


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