The recent UK press coverage of 81 year old Freda’s ‘dream holiday to Benidorm’ being ruined because “the hotel was full of Spanish holidaymakers” wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Fawlty Towers! But her remarks get even more absurd when she asks “why can’t the Spanish go somewhere else?”
Rather embarrassingly, this story has also appeared in the Spanish papers and you can just imagine their reactions! It is adding fuel to the fire of Spaniards perceptions of Brits just wanting a little Britain in the sun. Choosing the correct side of Benidorm is very important as they differ vastly, as is picking the correct accommodation.
There are literally hundreds of hotels, but one thing that they all have in common is that the meals will be self-service buffet style– with all the usual suspects you’d imagine. It is hardly inspiring but acceptable, with the requisite salad bar but there is almost certainly that great British staple always available – chips!
One of the main attractions Benidorm has to offer are the stunning beaches and broadly speaking, the Brits tend to stay on the Levante side whilst the Spanish go on the Poniente side. But Benidorm is blessed with 5 sandy beaches as well as two ‘hidden coves’.
All are patrolled by qualified lifeguards and you must ensure that you adhere to the flags, which indicate if the waters are safe to swim in – going in when there is a red flag flying could land you with a hefty fines. The candy stripped huts you can see on the sand are first aid stations, equipped with defibrillators.
Levante beach is most popular with the Brits and stretches from the Rincon de Loix to the edge of the Old Town. Over the summer months it is jam packed and at times it’s a struggle to find a square metre of sand to place your towel down. It is vibrant and full of life, with bars lining the promenade, usually pumping out loud music.
There are rocks hidden just at the shoreline in the shallow waters, which are slippery so be very careful when going in as they are impossible to see when covered by the sea. Many have slipped and cut themselves over the years but it's literally impossible to do anything about them.
Mal Pas is a quiet sandy cove just below the Mirador in the Old Town. Head to Dove Park and then walk towards the port and you will find Mal Pas at the very end. Take your own drinks as there aren’t any bars here – popular if you just want to chill and relax.
Poniente beach starts at Dove Park and merges into La Cala. It has a distinctive multi coloured wavy promenade that won an architectural award for its innovative design. This beach is much wider and quieter, although there are bars and restaurants directly across the road from the beach.
La Cala beach is a continuation of Poniente beach and starts at the end of the wavy promenade. A calm and relaxing beach and ideal if you don’t want to be disturbed by loud music. There aren’t many shops along this stretch so take your own coolbox with food and drink.
La Cala Finestrat, as the name suggests is in Finestrat although most people still refer to it as Benidorm. It is a large sandy cove very popular with families. Parking is easy with a car park directly opposite and there is a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants directly off the sand. There is a weekly market on Saturday, starting at the beachfront and the spit roast chicken stand always has a long queue.
In addition to the 5 sandy beaches, Benidorm also has two hidden rocky coves – Almadrava and Tio Ximo. If you fancy something completely different and are a little adventurous then why not give them a go. These hideaways are understated and basic, but the best thing is that you won´t find hordes of tourists there.
They remain almost hidden from view and like all the best quiet beaches, take a little effort to get to. There are no facilities there so make sure you take a supply of food and drink with you. The number 24 bus goes part of the way to both of the coves but please note that neither are suitable for those with mobility restrictions.