Island of Tabarca
The flat island / Pirate Island in Alicante
The Island of Tabarca in Alicante has great charm. Enjoy the all year round fantastic climate, the very tasty Mediterranean cuisine and the beautiful coves and beaches. Tabarca is great for a day trip.
Tabarca (the Flat Island) is the only inhabited island of the Valencian Community and at present, around 60 people live there. Tabarca is a magical island comparable with Ibiza or Formentera: Therefore, you have to visit the island. If you like peace and quiet, visiting in winter will be your best option and if you like to snorkel, the island will become your dream paradise in summer.
There are several ways to reach the island, but the most recommended way is by boat, so you can enjoy a nice journey whilst taking in the views of the Alicante coastline. The most recommended way (if you don’t have one of your own) is to take one of the boats that leave for Tabarca from different ports such as Benidorm, Calpe, Villajoyosa, Alicante or Santa Pola.
From Benidorm (during high season) boats to Tabarca usually leave 4 or 5 times a week (according to demand). The timetable is reduced to only a couple of days in October. The service is not available from November. The boat journey is approximately an hour and a quarter depending on the port where you leave.
Another option for your crossing to Tabarca is to leave from the port of Santa Pola. The cost is less and it is only 8 km away. The journey takes between 15 to 20 minutes depending on sea conditions.
Alicante gastronomy is famous and of course on Tabarca Island you can enjoy tasty rice and fish dishes in the different restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to try the tasty Caldero Tabarquino, an exquisite rice dish made with stock from fish caught in the bay of Santa Pola, which is served in two parts, the first one being Gallina fish with potatoes and some aioli which is then followed by the rice. We also recommend that you try the lobster stew, the “lecholas al curricán” (lemon fish) or the “potera squid”.
Tabarca has many restaurants with terrace, views, good service and delicious food. “Nou Collonet” or Restaurante Gloria” are two outstanding restaurants on this beautiful island. If you prefer tranquil dining with great service, during the summer months on the island of Tabarca we recommend that you call in advance to book a table. A good option to escape the summer crowds is to book an early or late lunch so you can enjoy a nice relaxing lunch without the masses.
Tabarca was declared an artistic historical site n 1964 and although it is a small island, it has some interesting monuments to visit. Follow the wall that surrounds the town and enjoy the beauty of the water breaking. Visit the gates of San Rafael, San Miguel an San Gabriel and the churches of San Pedro and San Pablo, don’t miss the lighthouse, a walk through the old town, the main square and its adjoining streets.
500 meters wide Tabarca is a paradise for those who like water sports. You can practice sailing, windsurfing or take a boat ride around the islets that surround this pirate island. In winter, diving and rambling will be your means to enjoy this beautiful island. Declared a Marine Reserve in 1986, it is a paradise for diving and snorkeling.
Should you visit the island, it is a must to discover and enjoy its ocean floor. The best places for diving around Tabarca is La Muralla, located just before the port area. It is a shallow area where you can see large shoals of fish such as Barracudas, Breams etc.
Don’t miss the Cova del Lleó Marí and the Cala del Francés, two coves that won’t leave you indifferent as from these coves you can venture 40 m deep under the wall and pass from one cove to another via the communicating tunnel.
Tabarca is a protected marine reserve called Reserva Marina de la Isla de Tabarca, with a variety of marine fauna including sea bass, grouper, canger eel, and gilthead, and was declared a Zone of Special Protection for Birds by the European Union. It is surrounded by very clear and unpolluted waters. The island is formed by materials of volcanic origin on top of which limestone and quaternary deposits have settled.
Tabarca was the last Spanish Mediterranean location where the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal successfully bred before it became extinct in this part of its range in the 1960s. This proves the high quality of the waters around the island in terms of marine ecology. Therefore, waters around Tabarca were declared a Marine Reserve in 1986, the first of its kind in Spain. This status was mainly granted due to its submarine Posidonia prairie, which is the largest in the Spanish Mediterranean and has an extraordinary ecological value in terms of marine fauna and flora.
In order to both enhance the marine biodiversity and protect it from fishing, an artificial reef was laid near the island by the Marine Reserve authorities.
Before 1700, the island was known as Illa de Sant Pau (‘Saint Paul’s Island’) or Illa Plana (‘Flat Island’). Believed to be the island that St Paul disembarked on, the island was a refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of the 18th century and used as a base for raids on the Levantine coast.
The gateways are still visible and so are the Governor’s House (currently a hotel) and the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, concluded in 1779.
At the end of the 19th century, the island had a population of 1.000 people mainly devoted to fishing. In the early 21st century, the permanent population was around 50, making Tabarca the smallest permanently inhabited Spanish island (although this number is multiplied by ten during the tourist season in summer).
The main activity of the local population is fishing, with the catch brought to Santa Pola’s fish market, but tourism becomes the most important resource during summer, especially in July and August. Worth the visit.
From Transfer4U we can take you from your accommodation on the Costa Blanca to any of the ports that communicate with Tabarca so you can enjoy a day on the island. On the way back, we pick you up from the port and take you back to your holiday accommodation.
Transfer4U is a company specialized in passenger transfers in sedans (up to 3 passengers), minivan (up to 8 passengers) or minibus (up to 19 passengers) that works throughout the Costa Blanca.