With its blue flag beaches, sparkling seas and average of ten hours of sunshine throughout the summer months, the Costa Blanca in Spain is an obvious choice for a family beach holiday. But once you’ve decided on the area, picking the resort for your young family can be a little more tricky.
Do you go for the huge names like Benidorm or Alicante, where there are tons to keep the little ones busy but the beaches are heaving during the summer months, and you worry the kids might get lost in the crowd? Or do you pick somewhere along the coast which is quieter but still has access to the big resorts’ facilities if you want them?
Because I’m not great with crowds (I don’t like having to get the kids up and dressed early so that I can bag a tiny square of sand on the beach), I’ve taken several holidays along the coast in Calpe.
Things to Do
Calpe definitely falls into the quieter category when compared to the bigger resorts. Don’t get me wrong, this is the Costa Blanca during the summer holidays so we’re not exactly talking tranquil here – but the town’s two beaches are wide and golden and there’s always room to lay your towel.
Of course, the flip side is that there are not the activities for the little ones which you would expect from the busier resorts, so for waterparks or theme parks you’ll have to travel 30 minutes down the coast to Benidorm. (To be honest, 30 minutes on a local train or in a taxi is, for me, a small price to pay for quieter beaches).
The shoreline here is quite literally cut in two by the dramatic granite outcrop known locally as Penon d’Ifach. A huge giant boulder which rises up out of the sea, the Rock of Ifach is actually a national park which visitors can climb, although the route is pretty tricky so probably not for small children.
Either side of the rock are the town’s two beaches. Both are wide stretches of sand which boast the all-important blue flag to recognise their cleanliness. They’re both good swimming beaches and both have play areas where children who are bored of building sandcastles can run off some steam and make new friends while you continue working on your tan.
If your kids love the water then there are a number of boat trips available from the beaches which will take you up the coast. We did a speedboat ride and my kids loved it, especially when they spotted a dolphin splashing in the water.
Despite the high-rises which line the shore (somewhat spoiling the view), not to mention the atmosphere of the place, Calpe actually has a rich history spanning back almost three thousand years. Explore the old town and you’ll discover an eighteenth-century fortress, a Gothic church and the ancient city walls, built to protect the town from pirates. There are loads of cafes to stop off in too so the kids can enjoy an ice cream or cold drink.
Insider Tip: There is a range of kids clubs in the town from music groups to playgroups, so visit the tourist office when you get there to find out what’s on during your stay.
Flamingo Spotting at Les Salines
Just behind the high-rises, right in the centre of town, are the flooded salt flats of Les Salines. The large lagoon is home to hundreds of flamingos. My children loved watching them from the wooden walkways around the water – don’t ask me why, but they thought the pink birds were hysterical and still talk about them!
If you’re looking for a relaxed family beach holiday there really is enough going on in Calpe to keep you busy for a week. But if you want a little more action, or a day away from the sea, then venture down the coast to Benidorm for a day trip at the theme parks or water parks there.
There are two waterparks in Benidorm; Aqualandia and Aqua Natura. Aqualandia is right beside Mundomar, a marine animal park with dolphins and sea lions so the two combined make for a great day out. Also close by is Festilandia, a kind of permanent fairground with loads of rides for little ones.
How to Get to Calpe
Getting to Calpe for your family holiday couldn’t be easier as it’s just an hour’s drive up the coast from Alicante airport. Alicante is served by a good number of budget airlines from the UK, including Monarch, easyJet and Thomson. Flights from London take only two hours and 20 minutes.
From Alicante the easiest way to get to Calpe is to book a group transfer with Shuttle Direct. Book online before you set off and you can guarantee a bus will be there to take you to your resort, so you don’t need to worry about dealing with tired kids and trying to organise transport at the airport.
Where to Stay:
Apartamentos Hipocampos Calpe Rent Apart – Right on the seafront with balconies looking out over the sea and the striking Penon d’Ifach, the Apartamentos Hipocampos Calpe Rent Apart give your family their own space right by the beach. If you don’t want to venture out, the apartments also have their own pool and sun terrace.
Apartamentos Los Pinos – The Apartamentos Los Pinos offer a home-away-from-home vibe just beside the beach. There’s free WiFi throughout and all the apartments have sea-facing balconies.
RealRent Peñon Beach – The contemporary apartments at RealRent Peñon Beach all have balconies with sea views and are just a three-minute walk from the beach. There’s a communal pool downstairs for the kids to enjoy and free WiFi in the lobby and pool area.
About Shuttle Direct:
When you’re travelling with little ones you want the journey to be as smooth as possible, so booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home is a great idea. Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of private and shuttle transfers in Europe and North Africa; simply choose between a private car or a shared group transfer and a driver will be there at the airport to take you on to your final destination.