If you’re holidaying in Ciudad Quesada, here’s an idea for a one-day trip you can’t miss! Although it is possible to sleep at this destination too, it’s a small place where you can see everything during a peaceful walk within a couple of hours and so in our opinion the round-trip in one day is the best option.
It’s an island called Isla de Tabarca which is situated in front of Santa Pola in Alicante. The surrounding sea is of subtropical nature and is very transparent which attracts many divers. The island also has many little coves which are very beautiful. It’s the only populated island in the Valencian province and it has a total of 51 habitants (called Tabarquinos). It has a maximum length of 1800 meters and its tallest point is 15 meters.
Half of the island continues to be virgin land (which was declared a Marine Reserve in 1986) and in the other half is the town called Tabarca. It is a walled town that was built by people from Tabarqah in Tunisia in the 18th century, which at that time belonged to Genoa, Italy. These first inhabitants were families from Genoa which were given houses on the island, tax advantages and the exemption from military service because the king considered Tabarca to be a strategic point of defense against pirate attacks off the coast of Alicante.
How to get there
You can catch the boat from Santa Pola and Torrevieja. From Santa Pola the journey takes around 15-20 minutes and from Torrevieja it’s around an hour. From Santa Pola you can also choose between a large catamaran style boat where you can move at your leisure around the two floors almost as if on a mini-cruise ship. When you arrive near the island you can also enjoy looking at the marine fauna on the semi-submerged floor of the boat. Another option is the smaller and faster taxi-boats which are around 10€ per person for a round-trip.
We highly recommend taking diving goggles because if there is an attraction that stands out above the others, it is the quality of the waters for snorkeling, as they are crystal clear and full of life. The island is surrounded by a natural underwater prairie which is astoundingly beautiful. You can see barracudas (long, large fish), octopus and star-fish among many others creatures.
Another of our recommendations would be to visit here during the week to avoid oppressive crowds. At the weekends and during summer holidays, the amount of people on the island drastically increases. Shade on the island is also very scarce so it’s best to take a parasol and sun cream. The beaches and coves are of stone of different sizes so it’s also recommendable to bring suitable shoes for going into the water, such as surf boots or water shoes with a rubber sole. These also protect you from a prick from sea urchins.
Regarding the restaurants on the island, there are some where you can get great food although the prices are high. This is understandable considering that the island ‘works’ just three months a year and all food has to be brought from outside the island. Many people choose to take their own food to last the day there. There are also businesses that offer packs including the journey to the island with a menu. An example of this is Water Taxi Tabarca in Santa Pola (https://tabarcawatertaxi.com/). In their pack you can choose between a menu of paella or the gastronomic jewel of the area: Caldero.
Caldero, culinary treasure.
Caldero de Tabarca is a delightful dish. A tasty broth is made with rock fish, then salmorreta sauce is added (ñora peppers, garlic and tomato, which is the absolute key). Potatoes and fish are then cooked in this mixture. The fish is served with the potatoes and alioli is added to the broth and served on top. The remaining broth is then used to make rice, which is cooked and left with extra broth to be served like a soup. There are people who add more alioli to this before eating but it’s really not necessary as the taste is an explosion of flavour as the broth has been infused with all that has been cooked in it.
To conclude, If you’re in need of a taxi service from Ciudad Quesada, the trip to Santa Pola is around 35 minutes and costs 35€. Alternatively, the trip from Ciudad Quesada to the port at Torrevieja is around 15 minutes and costs around 15€.