Top walks around Villajoyosa: La Vila to Playa de Torres
Duration: 45 mins. Easy, mostly paved or dirt tracks, some steep steps and uneven paths.
This stroll is a nice mix of cliff top walking, beautiful sea views and a little history. Start on the seafront by the red lighthouse at the port entrance; this corner of the beach is known as the Basseta de L'Oli (rough translation, the Oil Pool). Don't worry, there's no pollution; it got the name because the sea is always calmest here in the shelter of the port.
The sand itself is a relatively recent import; the beach was just pebbles until not much more than 20 years ago. Before Villajoyosa's modern port was built in the 1920s, the fishing boats were hauled up onto the shingle and bigger ships had to anchor offshore in the bay.
Head past the marina to the ship repair yard at the end of the port, all that is left of a once-thriving shipbuilding industry. Difficult to believe now, but in the nineteenth century, La Vila was the second most important shipyard in the whole of Spain.
Turn right at the end of the port, walk to the sea past the modern duplex apartments and you come to Playa Varadero (literally Shipyard Beach). For centuries, the shipyards had been at the other end of town, down by the river mouth, but they moved here in 1918 because the water was deeper for launching bigger vessels. They built all sorts here; trading schooners, fishing boats and pilot boats. All that's left now is a forlorn and rusting winch mechanism on the beach, once used for hauling boats out of the water.
The beach itself is still shingle; no fancy imported sand here. It's a great place to go snorkeling around the rocks (tip: take beach shoes to deal with the pebbles, otherwise it's an ungainly hobble to the water's edge). The beach is undergoing a bit of tourist development, though there's a row about the beach bar that opened in 2017; the neighbours protested loudly, and the bar is now shut by the Policia Local for infringing its planning conditions.
Good news; there's then a well-paved road by the sea for the next few hundred yards, taking you past the little coves of Playa de Estudiantes and Playa Tio Roig. Not such good news: the path then runs out and you have to climb a steep staircase (84 steps, I counted) to the clifftop.
Turn right along an uneven stone path which takes you behind a villa and past an olive grove. Turn right aross the villa access road and there's then a brief scramble which takes you up onto the cliff path towards the six towers of Torres.
Built with all the sensitivity and skill of a toddler with its first box of Lego, they're an ugly hangover from the 'build 'em high, sell 'em quick' era of Spanish tourist development. What were they thinking of? Keep your eyes on the beautiful clifftop view out to sea instead; you'll notice the giant nets of the fish farm where they breed sea bass (lubina). One local told me that occasionally one of the nets breaks in bad weather; all the fishermen then head for the beach for a free fishy bonanza.
You can't miss the Isla de Benidorm out in the bay. It's uninhabited and a nature reserve, but you can take a 20 minute trip out to visit from Benidorm. Some boats have underwater viewing panels for a close up view of the flourishing marine wildlife. See my blog for a few local myths and legends on how the island was born.
A couple of minutes stroll and the tower blocks are mercifully behind you; a winding path with easy steps then takes you down to Playa de Torres itself. Pause briefly to feel seriously jealous of the people who own the clifftop house; they must have one of the best sea views on the entire Costa Blanca. Inland, you'll see the Puig Campana mountain dominating the skyline.
Playa de Torres itself is a pleasant shingle beach; head towards the far end if you want to escape the muzak from the nearby caravan site (the site shop is handy for a refreshing drink or ice cream though). Walk a few yards inland behind the beach to see the remarkable Torre de Sant Josep; it's a Roman funeral tower, one of only three in the whole of Spain. Built for a seriously important Roman citizen from Allon (the Roman name for La Vila), it has just been restored to the way archaeologists think it might have looked in the second century AD, minus the pyramid that would have sat on the top (see my blog on the Romans in La Vila here)
That's the end of the walk; head back the same way to La Vila, or continue past Playa de Torres along the cliffs to Torre d'Aguiló, Cala de Finestrat and Benidorm. The walk to Torre d'Aguiló takes a further hour; for info, see my blog here