On the Costa Blanca
Coastline, between Denia and Javea is the mythical Cova Tallada. A huge cave
dug out of Cape San Antonio that for hundreds of years served as a quarry for
the stone used to construct historic buildings such as Denia Castle. Nowadays it forms part of the Cabo de San Antonio Nature Park
and offers a truly amazing experience for the adventurous souls who dare to
enter the cavern.
The partly natural,
partly man-made cave was first excavated during the Muslim era and contains
evidence of activity dating back to the 12th century. While it’s no longer a
working quarry it is rumoured to have served as a secret hideaway and supply
depot for German submarines during the Second World War.
The cave is reached
from Javea via the Cape lighthouse route or from
Denia, thanks to a 750 metre path that runs along the Mediterranean by a small
The cave itself is
about 75 meters wide and about 15 meters high, with five large
“doors” through which the sea and light can enter. The space is large
enough to allow for the entrance of canoes, which makes for another very
interesting way to take in the experience. The area outside the cave is suitable
for swimming thanks to a rocky projection that acts as a breakwater, meaning
the surrounding sea is usually calm and ideal for snorkelling.
Inside, the cave has
several large passages that you will need a torchlight to explore due to their
darkness. Among the interesting features to be seen inside are the marks on the
walls made by centuries of stonecutters and, at the entrance of one of the
cavernous ‘rooms’, an inscription on the rock that indicates that King Philip
II was there in 1599.
It should be noted
that due to the huge popularity of the Cova Tallada, especially in summer, the
number of visitors allowed to enter at a given time will be limited in order to
alleviate the ecological burden on the site. Numbers will be limited to 482
people per day, with no more than 71 people allowed in the cave at the same
time. It will also be necessary to make a reservation – allotting a specific
day and time – to visit the cave.
Those wishing to
explore the cave should bring water and food with them as well as suitable
clothing and footwear, a flashlight and a camera with plenty of storage
capacity: you might need it to capture the views and the amazing local flora
along the way.
With more than 200 km
of coastline and some 170 beaches it’s no surprise that the Costa Blanca offers
some wonderful diving opportunities, especially on its rockier northern coast.
In the months of June
to October, the average temperature of the water is more than 20 degrees. In
the months of February and March, the sea is at its coldest, with an average of
14 degrees Celsius.
The water is
relatively calm, free of dangerous currents and home to a highly diverse
underwater life. Apart from the Mediterranean fish, you can find rays, sea
horses, crabs, octopus and moray eels. Sunfish visit the Costa Blanca coast
from late spring onwards and in September and October sardine and barracudas
heat along the coast. There are also rich and colourful seagrasses to be
observed. Lister below are Sonneil’s top five diving locations on the Costa
The Tabarca Marine
Reserve, off the coast of Alicante, was the first such reserve to be
declared in all of Spain in 1986 and occupies 1,400 hectares around the entire
island. Being one of the few protected marine spaces, it makes for one of the
most incredible diving locations on the Costa Blanca and boast of a
particularly rich biodiversity beneath the waves. As for its flora, the Posidonia
Oceanica seagrass prairies stand out, and as for the fauna, fish such as
grouper, gilthead and even some specimens of loggerhead turtle frequent these
waters. Of course, diving in the Tabarca Marine Reserve is prohibited without
first getting permission from one of the authorised dive centres in the
About 2.6 miles from
the port of Denia, lies the remains of a cargo ship, commonly known as El
Vaporet, which sank at the end of the 19th century. The considerable depth, the
likely presence of currents and reduced visibility, make it advisable that only
those with considerable experience undertake the dive and only under optimum
conditions. A wealth of fish life inhabits the ruins of the ship, including
sardines and lobsters.
The island of
Portixol is a nature reserve with a popular bird sanctuary, that also has much
to offer under the water. Its rocky bottom, covered with seagrass, is inhabited
by several species of perch, eels and damselfish. The odd squid can also be
seen. The water is easily accessible from the pebble beach, which is close to
the main road, just down some stairs.
Located in the town
of Javea, this beach is considered one of the best in Spain. It is a dream
location where sea and mountains combine perfectly. Thanks to its turquoise
waters, the experience of diving here is unmatched. In La Granadella we can
observe white sands alternating with posidonia plains, in which we can see
octopuses, dorados, nacra molluscs and other underwater species. In addition,
the beach is shallow and calm, so it is ideal for those divers who are taking
their first breaths underwater. La Granadella is also an unbeatable place for
other activities such as sea kayaking.
El Peñón de Ifach
This beautiful dive
takes place on the north side of the Peñón de Ifach, in Calpe, and is characterised by its rocky
bottom and the huge arches that have formed in some of the rocks. In this area
we can find some of the largest octopuses to inhabit the Costa Blanca, and
numerous yellow-crusted anemones. Bream, moray eels, groupers and croakers are
also to be seen. This is a deep dive, so it will be necessary to have a certain
level of diving experience.
There is a reason
that some 70,000 British pensioners have chosen to retire in Spain. There are the amazing golf courses, complemented by its food and climate,
which have been recognised by the World Health Organisation as the best in the world
in terms of offering a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention that the cost of
living in Spain is around 30-40 percent lower than in the UK, meaning that your
monthly pension payments go significantly further in Spain than in the UK.
Besides all of this,
there’s the fact that common membership of the EU made it almost as easy to
retire in Spain as to retire in the UK. Obviously that’s all going to change
with the UK set to depart from the bloc; however, the Spanish government has
been eager to address the concerns of the British expat community in Spain. To
this end Madrid announced in March that Britons living in Spain will be able to
apply for a “foreigner identity card” before 31 December 2020 to
prove their legal residency status. Once this is obtained, expats should find
their access to services like healthcare and social security largely unchanged
regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without an agreement.
notwithstanding, what are the administrative steps to be taken to settle down
to retire in Spain?
First you need a
residence permit, to get this you need to register at your local Oficina de
Extranjeros who will then issue you with the permit. Once you have this you can
register on your local town hall’s census (padrón), which brings a variety of
benefits including the right to vote and free or discounted access to services
such as sports centres and libraries.
Retirees living in
Spain who are in receipt of a UK State Pension can choose to have their monthly
payments paid into either UK or Spanish bank account. For the second option,
you’ll need the international bank account number (IBAN) and bank
identification code (BIC) numbers for your Spanish account.
If you have a private
or workplace pension plan in place it is advisable to talk to a financial
advisor before leaving the UK. They will look at the various pension funds and
investments available to you as well as tax efficient options for structuring
your assets and funds.
To retire on a modest
salary in Spain, you might plan to spend around €17,000 a year, but to retire
comfortably it would be good to have around €25,000. If you’re willing to
budget and live cheaply, as little as €15,000 yearly will do.
Emergency cover in
Spain is available to anyone, whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen. To
qualify, if you live in Spain and receive a UK state pension or long-term
incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need an
S1 form, which must be obtained in the UK and certifies that you are of
retirement age and have paid all the necessary social security taxes in the UK.
You will then be entitled to the same benefits as a Spanish national.
Much more than white sand beaches and Mediterranean sunshine, the southern Costa Blanca also boasts a magnificent natural heritage. Whether you are out to discover rare species of fauna and flora or simply go for an invigorating walk in a unique environment, here is Sonneil’s guide to the Southern Costa Blanca’s most unmissable natural beauty spots.
The Pink lagoons of Torrevieja and la Mata
Boasting great ecological wealth, the salt flats of Torrevieja are probably the most famous natural park in the Southern Costa Blanca. Their dense waters, with a high salt content, have a very particular pinkish colour due to the seaweed that lines the lagoon bed. Adding to the pink theme that dominates the area are the flocks of flamingos that inhabit the wetlands. In all, there are about 100 types of aquatic and marine birds plus other animals in this amazing natural park.
Apart from the lagoons of La Mata, Torrevieja also has a beautiful 2,000 metre-long beach called La Mata Beach, which is famous for its sunsets.
Finally, the Parque de Las Naciones, which at more than 40,000 m², is worth seeing for its central lake which people say is shaped like European continent. A dedicated area for children makes the place very pleasant for a family outing.
The parks of Guardamar del Segura
In the area of Guardamar del Segura, Reina Sofia Park is a breath of fresh air with lush vegetation and waterfalls. There’s lots to see and do in the park including spaces for children to play, several ponds and waterfalls where a wide variety of animals such as squirrels and birds and ducks can be seen. There’s also lots of walking paths and areas shaded by the various types of trees, including pine trees. Another equally sublime environment are the dunes of Guardamar del Segura, known as Parque Alfonso XIII. Thousands of trees have been planted among these dunes, which cover more than 800 hectares.
The Palmeral of Elche
Declared an “Artistic Garden” in 1943 and classified in 2000 as a World Heritage Site, the rare beauty of this landscape will take your breath away. Here, in a quiet atmosphere of more than 12,000 m², you’ll find a lush abundance of Mediterranean and tropical plants such as orange, pomegranate, carob or jujube, as well as a huge range of palm tree and cacti species from around the world.
The wild and beautiful El Carabassi beach is also to be found in Elche. The entire area with its rich marine life and location near the salt marshes of Balsares and Clot de Galvany and has been granted ecological protection status.
If you dream of living close to spectacular scenery, then check out Sonneil’s properties in the Southern Costa Blanca!
Buying a property is the biggest
investment most people will make in their lives. Buying one abroad is an even
bigger undertaking as it involves navigating a foreign legal and financial
terrain. It is normal to feel daunted by the task, but like anything in life,
the better prepared you are going into it, the more likely you are to make a
success of it. That being the case, Sonneil has compiled a list of important
things to consider when buying a house in Spain.
Location, location, location
A house gains in value if it is
located in an area with high
quality schools and with good communication and transportation routes to the main
urban centers, so be sure to ask about these local amenities. It’s a good idea
to ask about future development plans pending approval as these may affect the
house or its surroundings, and find out as much as you can about how much other
properties in the area have sold for recently.
Viewing the property
When visiting the your prospective
property purchase take note of things like the orientation of the house,
ventilation of the bathrooms and kitchen, the state of the electrical
installation, the arrangement of partitions and doors and the ambient noise
levels outside. Take photos and write down your observations in a notebook to
better remember the property after you leave. Ask the seller about the
building’s energy efficiency rating. Choosing a home with an A rating in terms
of its energy efficiency means an estimated saving of 89% compared to an F
rating, thus allowing you to save money while you save the planet.
The purchasing process
The deposit agreement
Once you’ve chosen your new home
and are ready to start the process of buying it, then the legal and financial
considerations come to the fore. This starts with the signing of the deposit
agreement. The deposit is usually around 10% of the cost of the house. Once the
agreement is signed you take on the rights and responsibilities of a buyer. If
you later decide not to go through with the transaction, you will lose this
deposit but if the seller cancels the sale, they will have to return the
deposit to you.
The title deed
Next is the signing of the title
deed. This part of the buying process must be done in front of a notary with
both the buyer and seller present. The deed must contain a description of the
property as well as explaining any mortgages or charges on the house, the final
sale price agreed and how it will be paid, plus the taxes and expenses related
to the sale.
Taxes and other charges
The main taxes to be paid are the
property transfer tax (“Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales” or
ITP) and VAT. Other expenses include notary costs, the payment to add your name
to the property register and any costs related to the mortgage.
In the end, the total taxes,
charges and expenses represent around 8% to 13% of the purchase price,
depending on the autonomous community (Spanish region) in which you are buying.
If you have reached this far in the
process, then congratulations, you are the proud owner of your own Spanish property!
Below are just some of
the best beaches on the Costa Blanca, according to Sonneil.
La Caleta in Villajoyosa
Sand and rocks mix here to create a quiet beach of turquoise and crystalline waters, with a calm sea, separated from the rest of Alicante’s beaches. It is the perfect place to spend the day, enjoying Alicante’s clement weather. Like most popular beaches, La Caleta is equipped with umbrellas and deck chairs, scooters, and other rental services as well as kiosks offering food and refreshments.
Another of our favourite Costa Blanca beaches can also be found near Alicante. Tabarca Island, besides being the only inhabited island in the Valencian community is also a nature reserve/paradise for tourists. Accessible by boat from Alicante, Santa Pola, and Benidorm, its main beach, known as Tanarca or Levanteis, is one of the best in the Alicante area. You will find all types of services for your day of sun and sand, including restaurants and rental scooters. The beach itself is a mix of golden sand and pebble, with a seabed that is crystal clear, inviting swimmers to discover the flora and fauna under the water.
The Granadella in Jávea
Surrounded by nature, Granadella cove in Jávea, is considered one of the precious coastal jewels of the city. At only 200 meters long and just over 20 meters wide, this small gravel beach has had a blue flag for nearly 30 years, making it a favourite for scuba diving enthusiasts.
Cantal Roig in Calpe
One of the most beautiful cities of the Costa Blanca, and also one of the most visited in the summer months is Calpe. Brooded over by the spectacular Peñón de Ifach – a massive limestone outcrop jutting out of the sea – it has a total of 11 beaches and coves. Among the most charming of which is Cantal Roig. One of the smaller beaches, it has fewer tourists and is located right at the foot of Peñón near the fishing port. Its calm, perfectly transparent waters are perfect for observing the world beneath the waves. There are some rocky areas in the water, so if you like to explore, we recommend you wear appropriate footwear.
Carabassí in Elche
Unlike most of the beaches in our list which are characterised, at least in part, by areas of gravel or pebbles, Carabassi in the city of Elche stands out for its large expanse of fine golden sand as well as the system of dunes and pine forests that surround it. Carabassi beach also turns heads thanks to its dedicated nudist section. So if you want to be completely surrounded by nature, head to Carabassi!