Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dénia (Costa Blanca), Comunidad Valenciana

For my recent weekend escapade, I decided to check out the beaches of the coastal port town of Dénia (4.5hrs drive from Madrid) located between Valencia and Alicante.

Truth be told, there are certainly other beaches in Spain that can easily surpass Dénia's in terms of quality & beauty. Yet, within its 20km coastline, there are lots of charming spots to beguile you.

The waterfront along the town center of Dénia is defined by the busy beaches of Les Marines, Punta del Raset, the Port and La Marineta Casiana. This stretch of beach is fairly sandy and popular for all sorts of beach activity. Whichever beach you choose to go to, you'll have the magnificent Mount Montgó (a natural park) in the background.

Above: The Les Marines beach.

Above: A panorama of the beach front with Mount Montgó behind.

Above: The beach at Punta del Raset.

Above: Some kite surfing action near the northern breakwater of Punta del Raset.

Above: A canoeing competition happening at the beach.

The center of the town is dominated by a small hill topped by a Castle with Muslim origins. Surrounding the hill, the town is made up of old districts filled with plazas, churches, restaurants and shops.

Above: The Castle of Dénia, a historical monument built on a hill in the heart of the city, overlooking the sea.

Above: The tunnel that cuts through the hill under the Castle which leads to Plaza del Consell. This was constructed in the late 1930s and apparently used as a bomb shelter during the Spanish Civil War.

Above & below
: Plaza del Consell.

Above: A giant paella in the making.

Above: A string of restaurants line the road of Bellavista, across from the maritime walk. Food is fantastic in Dénia and cheaper than in Madrid!

Above: The Port.

Above: The open air market operates daily during summer along Explanada Cervantes, running parallel to a line of alfreco bars and cafés.

Above: Plaza Convento.

Above: Calle Marqués de Campo, a street filled with shops, cafés and restaurants.

A little further down south of the coastline away from the busy beaches and maritime promenade is the calmer, undisturbed Les Rotes area. Les Rotes is within the protected zone of the 'Cape Antonio Marine Reserve' and diving is the only activity allowed here.

Above: Pulpo seco in the making. Headless octopuses hung out to dry like laundry, outside a restaurant at the Punta Negra part of Les Rotes.

Above: The Cape of Sant Antoni at the far end, with a 160m high vertical cliff. The Torre del Gerro (Tower of Gerro) is also visible here on top of the mountain. It was used as a watch tower for coastal defense against pirates' incursions.

Above: Some of the many luxurious houses perched on the slopes of the Montgó Mountain with superb views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Many may not agree with me, but I actually have an aesthetic appreciation of the rocky, rugged Arenetes area of Les Rotes beach, further south of Dénia. It is quiet, peaceful, and the water is crystal clear.

Above: Part of the sea bed now exposed. I can only imagine how beautiful it is under the sea as this area is known to have an assemblage of posidonia (underwater meadows!).

This fascinating coastline has several coves and hidden caves further down from Les Rotes which I have yet to explore. Something tells me I might just head back there again...

Above: El Pegoli restaurant located by the coastline of Les Rotes.

Above: Les Rotes Arenetes area by night.

Just when I thought I’ve seen them all – bull fights and bull runs, Dénia surprises with another wacky version of man vs. bull spectacle known as ‘Bous a la Mar’ or Bulls to the Sea.

A temporary secured arena is set up by the harbourfront, with spectators on one side and the sea on the other. A young bull is then released and the usual human participants will be the local teenage boys who'll come up with all sorts of antics in their attempt to draw the animal into the waters. Don't worry, the bull will be rescued. Phew!

This bizarre event happens typically in the 1st fortnight of July, in conjunction with the Fiesta of 'Our Lord's Holy Blood'. Go catch this intriguing 'National Tourist Interest' activity next month if you're curious!

For more information on Dénia, click here.

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