Perhaps during your stay in Alicante and the surrounding area, you will feel a sudden desire for insular conquests. In this case, you do not have to search for Balearic flights, because Costa Blanca is dotted with, though not so large, but extremely charming islands. Today we would like to take you to one of them – located around 22 km from Alicante, the island of Tabarca. Isla de Tabarca is the largest island belonging to the Autonomous Community of Valencia and the only one, that is inhabited by people. Currently, the island has less than 100 inhabitants, but during the summer, up to 3,000 people pass through it every day. Although, as we have already mentioned, it is the largest island in the vicinity of Alicante, its dimensions are quite modest – it is only 400 meters wide and 1800 m length. Tabarca consists of the main island, known as Plana, San Pablo or Nueva Tabarca, which is inhabited, and of smaller, wild islets: Cantera, Galery and Nao. Considering the location of the island, we can say that this was a strategic point in the Mediterranean Sea, which was extremely desirable in the past. On the one hand, it could serve as a guard station that guarded the coast, and on the other hand it was a perfect base for an attack. According to research, the island was inhabited already in Roman times, around the 4th century BC. In the eighteenth century, she attracted Berber pirates. In order to get rid of them, the Spanish King Charles III issued an order to surround the island with a solid wall. This allowed for the settlement of fishing families, previously saved by Spanish soldiers and which came from the Tunisian city of Tabarka. It is caused by Spanish King, that the island owes its current name. Since 1980, the wall has been regularly preserved and restored, but you can still admire its original stone elements.

You can get to the island by a catamaran, a water tram or a water taxi. They run from Alicante and Santa Pola throughout the year. In summer, they also sail from Torrevieja, Benidorm and Guardamar del Segura. Carriers are many, and the prices are very similar. The cheapest and shortest courses are from Santa Pola – if you buy tickets online, they will cost about 10 euros for a return trip. You can also buy them at the port, but a price will be slightly higher (around 15 euros). You will sail from Alicante to the island and you will return from it for around 18 euros. The prices of trips from other ports will be higher than 20 euros. In most cases, you will also be able to buy discounted tickets for children and the elderly. If you are suffering from a seasickness, it is worth choosing a carrier that offers larger boats – they will be more stable and comfortable. Catamarans and water trams run very often. Usually there is even no schedule, just come to the port and set in the queue for the next ride. The trip itself takes about 25 (from Santa Pola) or 40 minutes (from Alicante). It is worth taking advantage of this time to admire fantastic views along the Costa Blanca. It is best to go for a trip in the morning, to arrive at the place near 10 o’clock, when there are not so many visitors on the island.

Tabarca will welcome you with its small but charming port, in which small fishing boats are moored. Going towards the town, you will encounter a previously described wall and gate of Puerta de Levante (also known as San Rafael). At the beginning, you can take a walk towards the Torre de San José fort. In the nineteenth century, this building served as a state prison. The entrance to it is located about 2 meters above the ground, but due to the fact, that it is owned by the army, its tour is not possible. To the south of the fort is one of the beaches, which clear waters encourage swimming and diving. In front of it is also a small island of Galera. If you go further along the beach, you will see a lighthouse from the mid-nineteenth century. It can be shocking, that it is located quite far from the shore, but its main task was to train the lighthouse keepers – inside there was a school. At the eastern end of the island, there is also a small, fenced cemetery. A walk around the uninhabited part of the island is very atmospheric – going back to the western part of the island, you will also pass the ruins of various buildings. Opposite the harbor is the Museo Histórico Nueva Tabarca, a museum placed in an old warehouse, which is devoted to the history of the island. If you want to visit them, it is worth checking the opening hours in advance. Next to the museum is the main beach, where you can relax on the hammocks and the Puerta de Levante gate, which leads to the main street. Here it is worth stopping for a dinner. We especially recommend you to try the famous Caldero de Tabarca. Of course, a good idea will also be paella or seafood in the company of winter sangria or homemade wine.

Going right off the main street, you will reach the next of four gates, Puerta de Tierra. It is located right next to the shore, so it is worth stopping for a moment to admire the beautiful sea views. It is worth mentioning, that Tabarca has been a part of the natural marine reserve since 1986 and is known as Reserva Marina de la isla de Tabarca. It was the first such a reserve in Spain. It is considered one of the most important natural shelters for marine fauna and flora in the country.

Visiting the residential part of the island, it is worth to get lost in small streets and discover their interesting nooks and crannies. It is impossible not to get into the church of St. Peter and Paul, Iglesia de San Pedro and San Pablo, which is a single-aisle building with two towers, which facade was designed like for the castle, but never built. However, the Casa del Gobernador was built, where the cavalry stationed. While being on the island, you must also look under the wall and visit the Cueva del Llop Marí cave. It has two entrances and can be entered into by kayaks or on the boards. It is about 100 meters long and is connected with a legend, that tells about a sea monster with a slippery, smooth body and enormous teeth. It is supposed to rest in a cave during the day and scare the inhabitants of the island at night. If you do not believe in legends, or you want to verify its truth, you can stay on the island for the night – in the season, hotels are open, which are willing to host you. The main advantage of staying overnight on Tabarca is a real, calm, deprived from tourists, a face of the island, which reveals itself only after dark. However, if you want to spend one day for a visit, but you care about peace and no crowd, you should plan a trip out of season, i.e. avoid months from June to September (especially July and August). One thing is certain – although Tabarca is often overlooked in the tourist guides of the Costa Blanca, being in the area of ​​Alicante, it is necessary to go on it and certainly it will not be a waste of your time and money.