The island of Alicante; well worth a visit at any time of year.
The island depends administratively on the city of Alicante, and is without doubt a symbol and tourist attraction of the Costa Blanca and the Mediterranean coast. Located only 11 miles from Alicante, 1800 metres long and with a maximum breadth of 400 metres, the island of Tabarca offers the visitor a true refuge, ideal for a weekend break of complete peace and tranquillity. Enjoy the beautiful countryside and architecture, naturally removed from the stresses of everyday life, and sample the internationally famous cuisine, specialised in seafood. An invitation you can’t refuse!
Tabarca, also known as Isla Plana (due to its flat landscape) or New Tabarca, is the only inhabited island in Valencia and in winter has a stable population of about 30 people, all of whom are involved in tourism or fishing. Visitors are always warmly welcomed and invited to enjoy quality services and exceptional natural resources that in 1986 earned the island the title of Mediterranean Marine Reserve.
A walled city was built, which could be accessed through 3 large doors named San Rafael, San Gabriel and San Miguel. Within these walls is found Tabarca’s interesting architectural heritage, including the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a Baroque style building with a fortified appearance.
The stone wall itself constitutes another interesting monument. The doors have stone vaults, royal coats of arms and various inscriptions. The Tower of San José, 27.5 metres high and built in the form of a truncated pyramid, can be found some distance from the town, strategically situated to serve its purpose as the island watch tower. La Casa del Gobernador, which originally housed the government headquarters in the centre of town, is now completely restored and used as a hotel. Original arches and walls have been conserved, making this another monument well worth a visit. Similarly well-preserved is The Cave of Llop Marí, a cavern 100 metres long, with stalactites where the sea water enters, situated in the south of Tabarca.
Tabarca, formed by volcanic materials, is a nature reserve, with a wide variety of marine flora and fauna. The island was declared a special protection zone for birds by the European Union, and since 1986 has been a Marine Reserve by order of the Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Diet.
The marine reserve, conveniently marked, was established in the waters surrounding the island, and is subject to certain strict rules regarding its use to guarantee its conservation. The anchoring of boats is limited to authorised areas; it is prohibited to collect specimens of flora and fauna; diving must be authorised by the council; and fishing is only allowed in designated areas.
Of the abundant flora predominate grey-brown and red seaweed; grasslands of Posidonia oceánica (a common plant in the Mediterranean), and a rich and well conserved biodiversity.
Tabarca is a true refuge for various species of marine animals; everything from purple starfish to porcelain snails, molluscs, crustaceans, sea urchins, octopi, bream, grouper, sea bass, conger eels, dorados, sea sponges, and many more species live together and form a clear example of an untouched Mediterranean marine community.
The waters that surround Tabarca are transparent and pleasant for bathing, as much in the sandy beach situated in the south face as around the cliffs, coves and crags of the rest of the island (examples include the North beach and ‘Cove of the French’) awarded on various occasions the blue flag of the E.U. The life-saving service operates during Holy Week and between 1st July and 15th September. The main beach has disabled access and a Red Cross post, among other services.
Tabarca’s natural characteristics make it an ideal place to practise all kinds of water sports, from sailing to windsurfing. The chance to travel the whole length of the island in this way is an attractive option; a truly pleasurable experience in direct contact with nature.
There are various restaurants in Tabarca, all with their own exquisite specialities. Succulent dishes made with fish and seafood, amongst which stand out ‘calamar de potera a la plancha’ (grilled squid) and the typical ‘caldero tabarqui’ (Tabarca hotpot), which consists of a fish starter followed by an unbeatable rice dish.