TAKE A DAY TRIP TO the gorgeous island of Tabarca, one of the Costa Blanca's top tourist attractions and summer destinations.
The historic island of Tabarca is a 50-minute boat trip from Torrevieja and after the cosmopolitan and vibrant modern ambience of Torrevieja city, you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
Enjoy your journey over to the island from Torrevieja's port on a glass-bottomed boat allowing you to view the amazing creatures and fauna of the Mediterranean Sea, including a chance to view dolphins in their natural Mediterranean environment.
In 1986 the Island of Tabarca and the surrounding inshore seawater were declared a protected marina and bird reserve, the first of its kind in Spain.
Just 4 km away from Santa Pola's bleached white sandy beaches, the island of Tabarca has an interesting history which is today reflected in the historic and weathered architecture.
The popular island boat service from Torrevieja to Tabarca
During the 18th century, the island became a refuge for Barbary pirates until the Spanish king, King Charles III, decreed the fortification of Tabarca to protect against the pirates.
The remains of the wall and the fortress are still visible, and they are one of the first sights you will see as you arrive at the island.
In the heat of a Spanish summer, the milder climate of Tabarca will be a welcome relief for the day. The island is renowned for its fabulous clear waters, sandy beaches, and its coves and cliffs which surround the island.
But it's the autumn and spring seasons when the island really shines, and visitors will find an oasis of Mediterranean tranquillity and a much slower, more authentic, pace of life than you're likely to experience during the summer months.
Remember to pack your swimwear and beach gear, as Tabarca is just perfect for water sports, snorkelling, and swimming in the beautiful clear Mediterranean seawater.
Spanish culture, history, nature, and beautiful clear warm waters
The village, which occupies the westernmost tip of the island, is laid out in a square pattern, with narrow streets lined with old fishing houses.
Take a visit to the lighthouse, observe the many rare species of birds that inhabit the island of Tabarca, and look at the amazing natural panoramic views on offer.
Find the historic buildings: the Baroque church of St Peter and Paul, the Casa del Gobernador (the old Governor's house), and explore the old fort and gatehouses. The museum is well worth a visit.
Whilst wandering around the village stop at one of the many Barbary pirate-themed cafes, bars and restaurants to sample the traditional Spanish seafood on offer.
Local specialities include paellas and caldero (a type of Spanish fish stew). The cost of an average Menu del Dia is around 22€ per person, slightly more expensive than you'll find on the mainland.
The Island of Tabarca: great restaurants or take a picnic
Another option is to take a picnic and enjoy al-fresco dining alongside nature. The island is nearly 2 km long, and you'll always find a quiet location to lay down a blanket and open the cool box.
For those looking for a unique overnight stay, the Tabarca Boutique Hotel offers a memorable stay on the island. The 3-star hotel offers rooms with idyllic sea views, free WiFi, and private facilities. A complimentary buffet breakfast is included in the room price.
Rooms are bright and clean, and the hotel's restaurant features stone floors and details of the original structure of the 18th-century building. There's a bar, a courtyard terrace, landscaped gardens and a reading room too.
In January 2022 Tabarca received the designation of a “Starlight Site”. The Starlight Foundation's astrotourism award recognises the islands' beautifully clear night skies, lack of light pollution, and the spectacular year-round views of neighbouring constellations and the galactic centre.
The first accolade to be bestowed upon any location in the Alicante Province, the award highlighted “Punta Falcón” at the easternmost end of the island, noting that from this location, it is possible to enjoy unobstructed starry skies during all seasons of the year.
Where does the boat from Torrevieja to Tabarca depart from?
Boats depart from Torrevieja's port adjacent to the old casino. Car parking is available in the underground car park for around 1€ per hour, and vessels are adapted to meet the needs of persons with limited mobility.
Tickets can be purchased from the port 30-minutes prior to the boat's departure or booked online, and cost 25€ per adult, 19€ for children aged 3-10 years, and children 2 years old and under are free. Pets are accepted on board.
Sailings take place every day during the summer and autumn months. Boats depart Torrevieja port at 09:15 each morning (Monday to Saturday) and return to the port at 17:00. An additional service departs at 12:15 and returns at 18:00.
On Sunday the popular route operates a single service departing Torrevieja at 10:15 and returning to port at 19:00 throughout the summer season. Visit the official website for more information or to buy tickets.
Looking for holiday ideas and travel inspiration? Find out more about our favourite recommended things to do on the Orihuela Costa or join the La Zenia community Facebook group and find out what´s going on in the local area.
Photo credit: LaZenia.com