Many people are seeking alternatives to the seaside resort holiday that is centred around lots of sunshine and doing as little as possible except maybe reading a book on the beach or around a swimming pool. Pleasant as that prospect may be, spending two weeks with nothing else on the agenda can become a little monotonous. More and more holidaymakers are looking to combine some of the lazy sunshine holiday concept with a certain amount of activity, and it is here that the area around Gandía and the whole area along the Costa Blanca can really come into its own.
The beautiful mountain scenery that lies almost immediately behind the coastal resorts along the Costa Blanca provide for a whole host of activities that are only now being fully recognised by local towns and businesses as equally valid and attractive reasons to come to this part of Spain. An obvious recreation in the La Safor mountains near Gandía is that of hiking and walking, and there is a wide choice of routes that have been mapped out for the enthusiast, ranging from easy, gentle walks to more strenuous hikes and climbs. Local authorities have started producing maps showing the recommended routes to follow, and these are also signposted along the way to make things even easier and more “user friendly” and less daunting for the first-time hill walker. There is also a hiking information centre in the hills behind Gandía where many of the local routes are centred upon, set in an area designated of special interest and natural beauty. As an extra point of interest, some of the routes also make use of disused railway lines in the area and the hiker will find themselves taking unspoilt and scenic routes between towns and villages, often even walking through former railway tunnels along the way.
If walking and hiking does not appeal, an alternative is cycling and mountain biking. This is a recreation that is hugely popular amongst local people, and it is not hard to see why. Bikes can be hired locally, either as an independent daily or weekly rental, or in the company of a guide who can take the enthusiast along routes in the hills and mountains if a road trip is not what you have in mind. Stunning mountain views are the reward for a steep climb through many of the villages and towns in the area, and then of course there is always the extra reward of the exhilarating downhill trip at the other side! It is very easy to combine a route that takes in a mountain section, followed by a return along the coast and maybe a swim in the sea all in the same trip – the best of everything!
Nature lovers can also indulge themselves along the Costa Blanca by visiting the areas frequented by the many species of birds in the area – both local and (depending on the time of year) migratory. There is a large designated nature reserve of wetlands to the south of Valencia City that will be of particular interest to the bird watcher, and this is home to a great number of species as well as a stopping point for birds that are passing through on their seasonal migrations. In addition to this specific area, the entire stretch of coast provides excellent opportunities for spotting a wide range of birds, including many birds of prey in the mountains. Guided bird watching tours can be arranged by local experts who can take the visitor to the best starting-off points, depending on the particular types of bird that are of particular interest. This can in fact be an excellent way of combining the different activities that the area lends itself to so well – walking through beautiful scenery whilst at the same time spotting varieties of birds and wildlife the visitor is unlikely to encounter at home.
And all this, of course, is available along the Costa Blanca in a climate so very much milder and warmer than what the visitor would probably be used to at home. Indeed, the long mild season that this part of Spain generally experiences makes it perfectly possible – and maybe even preferable – to take a break at a time when the mainstream holiday crowds have either not yet arrived or already returned home. The visitor can then benefit from lower airfares (rather than having to pay the premium normally levied during school holidays), cheaper accommodation costs, and of course a less crowded environment than during the traditional peak season.
Alternatively, if some members of a group want the more traditional high-season holiday activities of sun and sea, this can be combined with the interests of the walker and nature lover all in the same trip. The Costa Blanca and the La Safor region in particular really does have a lot more to offer than first meets the eye.