Volumes could be written about this part of Spain and still not do it justice. If you turn right out of Alicante airport you will soon see the mountains appearing, the countryside getting greener and you, like others before you, will smile at the beautiful landscape opening up before your eyes. The weather is warm enough to eat lunch outside for around 330 days of the year!
The Jalon (pronounced Halon) and Orba Valleys are situated about midway between Alicante & Valencia. Both about an hours drive. The valleys are twenty to thirty minutes easy driving to the beach resorts of Moraira, Javea & Denia. Or a twenty minute drive will take you into stunningly beautiful mountains, where on some days it is easy to believe that you are the only people on earth.
Driving around the largely empty roads of the Jalon and Orba valleys you will arrive at a different village every four or five minutes. These villages are all quite different in appearance but very much the same when it comes to the welcome you will receive from the Spanish. Some of the villages you will soon become familiar with include; Pego, Murla, Alcalali (famed for its wonderful restaurants), Benidoleig, Parcent and the larger town of Teulada just a few kilometres inland from Moraira.
This is the base for the wine industry of the region – you can sample and buy from the numerous “Bodegas” or wineries. The olive groves, almond trees, and of course vineyards make for truly beautiful scenery.
“Fiesta” must be one of the first words taught to children. The Spanish will have a party for any reason and then a few more just in case they think of another reason or two. The Fiesta may be a day time party with a fantastic carnival type parade, or it may be an evening street party that could go on until four or five in the morning.
It may be for one day, or different things happening every day for a whole week. When one village fiesta finishes the next village starts. The common theme is that absolutely everyone is welcome.
If you live in the valleys but don’t want to go, you can just relax by your pool on the warm evenings and enjoy the firework displays that mark the end of each fiesta day.
The coastal resorts of Calpe, Moraira, Javea & Denia all have beautiful sandy beaches and have an upmarket feel to them. If you are looking for nightclubs and kiss me quick hats, then this area is not for you.
Whether buying for retirement, investment, or as a holiday home, you will find this area’s climate to be one of the finest in Europe together with the charm of its people, a perfect combination in which to spend your well-earned retirement or leisure time.
Gorgos Valley. The river Gorgos is joined by the river Castell west of the little town of Gata de Gorgos, and runs into the sea at Jávea. The landscape of this gentle agricultural valley, surrounded by gradually rising hills, is known for its citrus groves and its vineyards. Here the traditional way of life has been untouched by the coastal tourist boom.
Gata itself straddles the main road, but the peaceful old town makes a good stop, especially if you’re interested in cane and rattan ware. Cane and esparto grass have been used here for centuries to make the matting and furniture still on sale today, though now much is imported.
West from Gata, orange groves start to give way to vineyards. The traditional grape here is the moscatello, used in the production of wines of the same name, still a speciality of Alicante province. The raisins made from these grapes were famed in the 19th century, when they were shipped from Dènia. The attractive old houses, now largely uninhabited, are called riu-raus; the arched porches were designed for drying the grapes.
Benissa was deliberately built inland from the coast to escape the Berber raids, the streets of the historic old town slope gently downhill. This tawny-coloured town, with its one long main street shaded with orange trees, seems a million miles from the razzmatazz of the big coastal resorts. Lovely old houses and mansions, the gable and porch designs clearly Moorish, and the windows protected by the traditional rejas, line streets such as the Calle de la Purisima. The huge church of the Purisima, known as La Catedral de la Marina, dominates the central square, planted with palms and cooled by fountains. At the top of the town stands the peaceful Franciscan Convento de la Purisima, and there’s an odd little Museo Etnológico (ethnographic museum) in the 15th-century agricultural exchange.
Calpe (Calp) The coast north of Benidorm has a chain of good beaches, classy villas hidden behind bougainvillaea hung walls and relaxed family resorts. Calpe is one of the most popular of these, due mainly to the soaring mass of the Peñón de Ifach. This former fishing village, with its mudéjar church, towers, walls and museums (Museo Arqueológico and Museo Fester), was particularly stalwart during the years of Berber pirate invasion; so much so that Carlos V dubbed it “muy herocia villa”. Its two splendid sandy beaches are often crowded in the summer, but you can escape to sea for a boat trip round the Peñón or take a stroll near the salt flats behind town. Calpe is a good place to get the feel of this coast, with well stocked, cheerful shops and outdoor restaurants. It has a lively nightlife during the summer, and is known for its sporting facilities.
Moraira As much an area as a village, Moraira was originally a fishing village on a sheltered bay below a rocky headland, it lies well off the main coast road and is undisturbed by the sort of crowds that flock to the main resorts.
Many spacious villas are scattered among the pine woods that run down to the sea, but with only a handful of hotels, Moraira remains one of the most unspoiled resorts, with a variety of services aimed specifically at its foreign residents.
A lovely coastline, a superbly restored 18th century castle, good sports facilities, upmarket shops and one of Spain’s best restaurants Girasol, all tempt visitors to return.
Dénia Lying beneath the heights of the Montgó natural park, historic and elegant Dénia is a far less brash holiday resort than some of its neighbours. Inhabited by the Phoenicians and the Greeks, it was named in honour of the Roman goddess Diana; the inhabitants are still known as Dianenses. English raisin-dealers lived here throughout the 19th century and many are buried in the almost forgotten English cemetery; the town’s broad streets and solid buildings date from that time. A small Museo Etnológico has displays on the town’s early history.
Dènia’s other attractions include the Castillio de Dénia (castle), perched high above the town and housing a small Museo Arqueológico (archaeological museum), the lovely 18th-century Church of Assumption, and a picturesque old quarter near the fishing port. From here, ferries run to the Balearic Islands and a narrow-gauge train runs down the coast to Alicante. But a car is probably the best way to see the lovely coastline to the south. Denia has a street full of chic clothes and shoe shops that wouldn’t be out of place in Bond Street.
Jávea today known mainly as a friendly family resort, had a long and respectable history before its spread down the hill towards the beautiful and protected beaches. Believed to be the sunniest place on the coast, the town lies on a bay embraced by the promontories of Cabo de San Antonio to the north of the pine studded Cabo de la Nao to the south. The narrow streets of the old town are lined with handsome houses, ornamented with delicate stonework and wrought-iron rejas and balconies. Fine buildings cluster around the Plaza de le Iglesia, with its fortified Gothic church of San Bartolomè and dignified town hall.
Just down the street the local Museo Arqueológico Histórico y Etnográfico (archaeological, historical and ethnographic museum) is housed in a Gothic palace; it traces Jávea’s history from the Iberian and Roman times to the emergence of the Christian kingdoms, and gives pride of place to replicas of exquisite Iberian gold jewellery found near by.
The port area, called the Aduanas de Mar, has a very busy working harbour. Here you’ll find the fish market and fishing boats, the modern church of Nuestra Senórade Loreto with its roof like a ship’s hull, long stretches of safe beaches and shops, bars and restaurants.