About Benidorm beaches
Despite decades of adverse publicity from the highbrow press, Benidorm remains the most visited holiday resort in Spain and its popularity shows no signs of flagging. The resort’s initial raison d’être, its wonderful beaches, continue to be the biggest draw but in recent years major theme parks and golf courses have been added, and in an attempt to move itself upmarket, Aiguera Park and amphitheatre have been built in the centre of town offering free cultural activities. And while the New Town may be a mega resort of concrete canyons, the Old Town, on the promontory that divides the two main beaches, retains a small-town Spanish feel.
The Bay of Benidorm is neatly bisected by the lookout point known as the Balcón del Mar, which looks east to the Playa de Levante and west to the Playa de Poniente. The latter is the larger at 3km (2 miles) while the Levante stretches for 2km (1.3 miles). A third, smaller beach, Playa del Malpas (120m) nestles in between the Balcón and a jetty which divides it from the Playa de Poniente. All comprise immaculately manicured golden sand which is cleaned daily. The water quality is no less impressive with filtration systems in the bay meaning the beaches have flown their Blue Flags since 1987. Poniente is less crowded than Levante. Beach facilities are comprehensive and well ordered, extending to biblioplayas (beach libraries) offering the chance to read foreign newspapers free of charge. All watersports are accommodated including a cable ski mechanism on Levante, which offers waterskiing without the need for (or expense of) a speedboat.
Beyond the beach:
In and around the outskirts of Benidorm are four major theme parks and water parks. Terra Mítica (Carretera Benidorm-Finestrat) (www.terramiticapark.com), one of Spain’s biggest theme parks, is complemented by the gentler Terra Natura (www.terranatura.net), a round-the-world theme park touching on various cultures and peoples, though most memorable for its animals. It also includes a water park. For the biggest choice of white-knuckle flumes and chutes however Aqualandia (Sierra Helada, Partida Bayo) (www.aqualandia.net) is one of the country’s largest water parks. Mundomar (Sierra Helada, Rincón de Loix) (www.mundomar.es) is Benidorm’s fourth major theme park with performing dolphins, seals and exotic birds. A boat trip to Benidorm (Peacock) Island is a popular excursion.
Two 18-hole championship golf courses have recently opened just 10 minutes from the centre of town at the Westin Real de Faula Golf Resort & Spa (Avenida Eduardo Zaplana). There are numerous other golf and tennis clubs within easy reach of Benidorm.
Benidorm is a temple to family fun and most first-time visitors beat a path to Terra Mítica and Aqualandia where they find the very best white-knuckle rides, children’s entertainments and shows. Aside from the theme parks there are dozens of small amusement parks, arcades and mini golf courses.
The most popular excursion is to Guadalest (16km/10 miles northwest), an old Moorish citadel which enjoys a magnificent panoramic situation and a charming small Old Town. The picturebook artists’ town of Altea (12km/7.5 miles north east), is the most beautifully preserved village on the Costa Blanca and has some lovely restaurants and art galleries.
Treat yourself to a glitzy night out at Benidorm Palace (Carretera Dr Severo Ochoa, Rincón de Loix) (www.benidorm-palace.com). The town isn’t known for its gourmet restaurants even though there are some very good Spanish choices in the Old Town. Instead take a trip to Altea where you will be spoiled for choice both in terms of food and surroundings.