The land of Valencia has many jewels and the town of Santa Pola is one of them. To get here take the N332 highway from Alicante and head south for about 18km. The airport is located just 8 km away. The town is on the southernmost stretch of the province of Alicante, lying on a calm bay. Its mild climate and the hospitality of its people make this major fishing port a must.
On arrival, your first stop should be the tourist office at the end of Ctra, Elche, next to the Parque El Palmeral. Here you will find a very helpful information point where you can collect a street plan and local information.
The coastal area around Santa Pola is well known as a sporting paradise with fishing, sailing, kite surfing and mountain biking.
What to see in Santa Pola
The park behind the tourist office is the Parque el Palmeral. This shady area is the location of the excavated Roman Villa with its superb mosaic floors. Close by are the remains of Portus Illicitanus a Roman fish factory.
Santa Pola has some superb beaches and a small marina. The main beach includes Playa del Tamarit, Playa Lisa and the Gran Playa. There are also small coves by the names of Playa Levante and Calas de Santiago Bernabeu.
In the centre of the town stands one of the most impressive castles and fortresses in the area. It dates from the 16th century and is still used today. It now houses an impressive museum as well as a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Loreto. Entry to the castle is free but there is a small charge for the museum. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Plaza de Glorieta
Opposite the entrance to the castle is the Plaza de la Glorieta, a 20th century construction that offers shade and somewhere to eat and drink. At night the Plaza comes alive as all the locals meet to chat. The town also offers a marine museum, located close to the police station and the beaches, several towers and viewpoints and a boat ride to the nearby island of Tabarca, costing around 15€.
The fishing port
Santa Pola has always been a major fishing port on the Valencian coast. Even today, the fishing fleet is busy and thriving. Fresh fish is caught daily. Pictured right, a boat has just arrived and the fishermen are clearing their nets of debris.
Cuisine in Santa Pola
Santa Pola offers a wide range of delicious foods, mainly derived from the sea. Its salazones are dried fish and are tasty appetisers, as are the fresh gambas or shrimps. A local fish stew, caldero santapoler is something you have to try. Arroz negro, rice with squid ink and Arroz a la marinera or sailor's rice are both local favourites. Some of the popular local catches are Anglerfish and Cuttlefish as well as fresh octopus. Local bakeries churn out ample sweets and cakes.
Sports and recreation in Santa Pola
The well organised marina offers all manner of water based sports including sailing, fishing and regattas. The Santa Pola Nautical Club is one of the finest sites on the coast. It has a rowing, sailing and canoeing school. Diving is also popular in the clear waters. Because of the heights of the Santa Pola Cape, you can also enjoy paragliding and hang gliding.
Fiestas in Santa Pola
Throughout the year, Santa Pola has a number of important festivities in which locals and tourists become involved. The year starts with a colourful and noisy fiesta to break the winter monotony. In March and April come the Mig Any or half-year pageants of the Moors and Christians. In June there is a Romeria or pilgrimage to the hermitage on the cape and just before mid-summer, on July 16th, the local sailors pay tribute to their patron saint, La Vigen del Carmen. The highlight of the year in Santa Pola has to be between 1st and 8th September in honour of La Virgen de Loreto. There are street processions, parades and giant parties. The year finishes on December 10th with the arrival of the Mother of God by sea.
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