Up the coast road between Benidorm and Calp (Calpe), one of the prettiest churches in the Valencian Community, the Nuestra Senora del Consuelo with blue domes contrasting with whitewashed walls, sits atop the highest ground. From nooks off the square there are panoramic vistas of the Ifach at Calp, the towers of Benidorm, the Sierra de Bernia mountains of the interior, and far across the Mediterranean Sea. There are also terrace cafes on the square and artisan shops along the ajacent streets. At sunset a large flock of bright-feathered "Palomas" comes noisily home to roost in the large tree to one side of the square.
For Altea lodgings check out the Hotel Tossal d’Altea (Partida Plà del Castell, 96; 34 966-883-183; Hoteltossalaltea.com), 22 rooms near the the Old Quarter on site of old olive oil mill, balconies with panoramic views, terrace, swimming pool and gym, internet, restaurant, breakfast.
Levante Beach, long and busy stretch of sand to east of Old Town, gayest in front of the Don Cesar Hotel.
Raco de Conill nude beach, a healthy climb over Mont Benidorm from La Cala Beach, near Cala de Finestrat (take bus 12 or 41 from Park Elx).
Mal Pas Beach, small wind-sheltered cove on Poniente side of Old Town. Take steps down from La Señoria square beside the blue church domes, up the hill from Plaça de la Constitució.
Poniente Beach, wide strand, 3km along coast from Elx Park; gayest between Old Town and Refuel Cafe, promenade can be cruisy some evenings.
Out of town:
Guardamar, 47km south of Alacant (Alicante), a much less developed resort than Benidorm, home to nature reserve of coastal sand dunes, pines and eucalyptus. Nearby beaches include Moncayo, La Roqueta, Centro, and the nudist beach (platja naturalista) of Los Tuseles.
La Marina Nudist Beach, naturalist sands just north of Guardamar by the village of La Marina near Punta Prima off the N332.
On the north side of Cullera where the sand dunes are protected from developers by the Albufera Natural Park just south of Valencia, there is the Sant Llorenç Nude Beach. A bit further up the coast there are clothing-optional areas at Pinedo Beach in El Saler. See our Valencia/ experiences page for more info on these.
As in most cities, towns and villages in the Community of Valencia there are festivals year-round to honor the saints. These almost always involve elaborate costumes, parades, bonfires, fireworks and partying in the streets, clubs and on the beaches. A few of these include: Three Kings Day in early January; Carnival and the Burying of the Sardines in mid February; Fallas in March (see city of Valencia for the biggest bash); Semana Santa - Good Friday to Easter Sunday; Fogueres de Sant Joan, four days of bonfires and fireworks, and all-night beach parties all along the whole Spanish coastline for the shortest night on June 23rd; Moors and Christians Festival, in early October; Festes Majors Patronals in mid November, (see above event listing); and Christmas to New Years with celebrations from December 18 right though to Three Kings Day January 5th.
For more about these dates and others see the RealBenidorm link below. Note that mascletas, the traditional afternoon fireworks extravaganzas, (common on any occasion of importance around here), are very loud. Step back a bit to avoid pain, or at least days of ringing in your ears. YouTube has some video clips of these - see Fallas in Valencia.
The Peñón de Ifach, the massive monolithic limestone promontory at the coast, divides the two sides of Calp (Valencian) or Calpe (Castillian Spanish). It's been a tourist destination since the 1930s for it's mild climate, fine sand beaches, and clean water, as well as archaeological sites, and restaurants serving local fish and seafood. The ruins of the Baños de la Reina, cut into the rock at water's edge, demonstrate the antiquity of fish farming here during and preceding Roman times.
The town has become a year-round residence for many northern Europeans, especially Belgians, Germans, the British and Dutch, who have opened bars, restaurants, bakeries and stores bringing their food and culture to the area; a somewhat older, more settled population of expats than those of Benidorm. To the north of the Ifach stand most of the city's high-rise hotels and a long promenade of cafes and bars. To the south is an old town district of narrow streets filled with more traditional shops and restaurants fronted by another long strech of beach lined with open-front cafes, bars and restaurants.
Casa La Diferencia (Canuta de Ifach 45a), is a local gay guesthouse, with clothing-optional pool and sunning areas. There are no specifically gay bars or saunas here, but with a bit of gaydar you're quite likely to find a friendly reception among the bars and along beach promenades where a young, sexually ambiguous mixed crowd including many South Americans, like to party late into the night.
The Fuentes de Algar natural park is a couple of kilometers from the village of Callosa d’Ensarria, inland from Altea. Crystal clear waters plunge into pools where you can take frigid dips amid verdant folliage. Wooden walkways and bridges facilitate getting around. There's a restaurant here, and at the top, picnic barbeques facilities, toilets and showers. Find it on route CV-755 towards Guadalest from the N-332 coastal highway.
About 15 kilometres to the northwest from Benidorm, Guadalest is perched high on rocky crags towering over the surrounding valley. Narrow streets lined with small handicrafts and souvenir shops, along with cafes and restaurants, zig-zag up to the one hundred-year-old door carved into the rock, to enter the ancient fortress. Further up, on the terrace, there are panoramic views of orchards and pine forests streching down to the sea. Various museums tell the history of this medieval site; stores sell delicate miniatures and sculptures; and restaurants serve the local cuisine.
La Nucia and Polop are picturesque mountain villages just off the inland CV-70 road between Benidorm and Guadelest, or down the CV-17 from Callosa d’Ensarria. Each has a flourishing Sunday Rastro, or flea market.