As the dark nights draw in and our days get chillier, it’s a good time to start planning a sneaky spring escape. With 320 days of sunshine a year, Spain’s Costa Blanca is a great choice…
We decided on a villa just outside the coastal town of Javea (Xàbia) for our stay. Located on the coast between Valencia and Alicante, there are plenty of budget flights to get there, with relatively cheap hire cars once you arrive. The weather was still warm in early October – sunshine all week – allowing for chilled afternoons around the pool, as well as fun days at Playa de Arenal (Arenal beach), a sweeping stretch of golden sand offering safe, blue flag swimming in the warm Mediterranean sea, volleyball, play areas for the kids and sunset cruises. We rented a jet ski for an hour from Maremoto Sports and zoomed along the coast – past sandy beaches and rugged cliffs – with a guide, but kayak tours are on offer too, if you prefer an ocean adventure of a more leisurely kind.
Our secluded, gated house was large and airy, with clean, comfortable bedrooms (cots are available to pre-book), a spacious lounge and sliding doors leading onto the terrace. Set in a quiet, residential area, the villa was surrounded with pretty gardens, dotted with Roman statues and a couple of spots for outside wining and dining. We cooked in the good-sized kitchen a couple of nights (there was a well-stocked supermarket 10 minutes away by car), but chose to stroll the promenade of Javea most evenings, eating ice cream, browsing the shops and watching the lights twinkling around the bay. twinkling around the bay.
There are plenty of good restaurants here too, from casual pizza places to higher-end eateries, stretching along the beach and around the bustling working port (Javea Puerto). La Fontana, La Bambula and Chabada were some of our favourites, with ocean views and menus with choices for kids and vegetarians, too.
Out of season there was little evidence of the riotous bar scene found in many of Spain’s Brit-centric resorts, and thankfully, there are none of the soaring high-rise hotels you’ll find along other coastlines, either. Instead, Javea lies in the shadow of the more naturally impressive Montgo Mountain and, despite a healthy ex-pat population, the town still feels refreshingly local. The historic centre, ‘Javea Pueblo’, is well worth exploring, with its Gothic church of San Bartolome, indoor food market, terrace cafes and stylish boutiques. We timed our visit well, as it coincided with a food festival, offering the chance to sample tasty tapas and some great Jalon wine from nearby Alicante, as we wandered the stalls, listening to local musicians.
Further afield, Spain’s cosmopolitan city of Valencia offers some fantastic museums and restaurants, a Gothic historic centre, picturesque marina and miles of beautiful beaches. And along the coast, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, horse riding, scuba diving, exploring the coves by kayak or playing a game of golf or tennis at one of the region’s clubs.
After just a week here, it became home – the villa felt like ours, and the stunning ocean view from the terrace was something we’d grown accustomed to. Driving through the gates and feeling the cool breeze rise up from the Mediterranean as we walked up the steps to the house became normal: a stroll along the beach at sunset, something everybody does after dinner, surely?
But real home and work was beckoning, and an hour after closing the villa gates behind us, we were parking at Alicante, waiting to fly back to the UK: a little bit browner, a lot more relaxed and carrying a little bit of Spanish sunshine home inside us.
Interhome offers beautiful villas and apartments for rent on the Costa Blanca, across Europe, and in countries including Canada, the USA, Mauritius, South Africa, Oman and the UAE. Many have special access for wheelchair users and some are pet-friendly. Find your perfect escape at interhome.co.uk