REINA SOFÍA PARK in Guardamar is a shining example of natural perfection. If you're looking for local travel inspiration or holiday recommendations that are suitable throughout both the low and high season months, this spectacular natural park is worth adding to your itinerary.
The Orihuela Costa is an all-year-round holiday destination for countless thousands of tourists every year, but the beaches simply don't harbour the same kind of attraction that they possess during the summer months.
So sometimes necessary to venture a little further afield to explore some of the area's finer features and make the most of that hire car you've already paid for.
Fortunately, when it comes to the great outdoors, our little part of the South Costa Blanca offers a rich and varied topography, boasting some of the most spectacular public parks you'll find in Spain.
Just 20 minutes north of La Zenia, you'll find the beachfront town of Guardamar del Segura, named in honour of the River Segura that flows from the lowlands of the Vega Baja into the Mediterranean Sea.
There are many compelling reasons to visit Guardamar del Segura, an ancient pine forest, and 11 km of unspoiled white sandy beaches are among the most popular, but perhaps its most unexpected attraction is its central park.
Reina Sofía park, a Mediterranean pine copse in town
Nestled in the centre of the municipal town, Reina Sofía park (in Spanish “Parque Reina Sofía”), occupies more than 70,000 m (17 acres) of pine copse and natural, rugged terrain.
The hilly public park has been thoughtfully landscaped to provide an oasis for indigenous feather and fowl, occupied by a wide variety of birdlife throughout the year.
A network of waterways and lakes weave through the park, and the canopy of pine trees provides welcome shade and a perch for migrating and resident birds.
Undoubtedly, the beautiful wildlife is the main attraction and Reina Sofía park is naturally blessed with some of the Mediterranean's most endearing creatures.
Red squirrels scamper along the woodland furrows darting between the trees, while peafowl wanders the forest floor noticeably nonchalant and oblivious to visitors.
Birdlife here is prevalent, with a variety of birds coming and going, landing in the waters – with the local menagerie seemingly in a state of both constant departure and arrival.
Things to do summer and winter on the Costa Blanca
The park offers refuge to a wide variety of birds including mute swans and majestic Indian peacocks that roam the grounds dragging their vibrant trains.
Their spectacular signature mating ritual occurs during the summer months, and September sees the arrival of baby peafowl and mating pairs of swans with cygnets.
With so much life on the ground and in the treetops above it is perhaps unsurprising to find life in the park's waters too.
European pond terrapins bask in the sunshine on specially created islands and shallows, alongside Florida turtles.
The imported exotic freshwater turtles, more commonly known as Yellow-Bellied Sliders, have an average lifespan exceeding 30 years in the wild and can reach 40 years old within the safe confines of the park.
Established paths and bridges wind through the park and over waterways, and picnic tables and chairs are located at beauty spots throughout the forest.
Visit Guardamar del Segura, Spain's year-round destination
The park has a large playground providing plenty of entertainment for younger children, and an open-air theatre offers live performances throughout the year.
The Town Hall maintains the park and cares for the animals year-round. The welcome shade, an abundance of local facilities, and the close proximity to the beach make Reina Sofía park an enjoyable experience for all the family, whatever the time of year.
Local bars and restaurants surround the park, and the beachfront promenade and beaches are less than a two-minute walk to the east, with a wide variety of restaurants serving paella and other Spanish staples year-round.
Originally inaugurated in 1991, Reina Sofía park can be found in the centre of Guardamar del Segura, with plentiful free on-street parking. To find Reina Sofía park, simply click here for a Google Map with directions from your location.
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