San Juan de Alicante
Just eight kilometres north of Alicante city centre is the pretty little resort of San Juan. It is a great place to recharge the batteries, relax by the beach or visit the countryside. Its fine, sandy beaches stretch to El Campello in the north while the rural town is two kilometres inland. The beach is a popular sport with divers and for snorkelling as you can see a wide variety of fish as well as octopus in the crystal clear waters.
Being so close to Alicante airport, it is easy to fly out for a weekend. After a day on the beach, there are plenty of restaurants nearby where you can try some of the local produce – octopus, one of the many varieties of paella, fish straight from the sea or some shellfish.
The town is worth a visit for a taste of Spain. There are a few shops but it really comes to life for the street market on Saturday. If you visit then, you will see stalls overflowing with fresh, local produce, some of which is never seen in the supermarkets.
San Juan really comes to life in September for its festival Santismo Cristo de la Paz. For five days, San Juan enjoys a fireworks extravaganza including the mascleta – fireworks and firecrackers which are admired for their noise as well as their look. Solemn processions, children's entertainment and a feast of paellas also await visitors to the festival.
Close to San Juan and worth visiting are:
Mutxamel is just nine kilometres north-east of Alicante but is a world apart in terms of culture and lifestyle. This is fine farming land, which has been worked since the time when the Moors ruled this part of Spain. It is argued that the finest tomatoes in the world are cultivated here. A little further inland and the landscape changes as the farmers turn their attention to almond trees. Many of these nuts will be used in Jijona, which is world-famous for its nougats known locally as turron.
The hills around Alicante are well-known for their caves and grottoes. The Canalobre Caves, near Busot, are one of the best examples and are argued to be among the most impressive caves in Spain. Inside, there are many stalactites and stalagmites. An oddly-shaped limestone formation is believed to have given the caves their name. They have an interesting history and provided a secret workshop during the Spanish Civil War when Soviet aeroplanes were repaired here.
El Campello is lovely seaside resort, just 18 kilometres north of Alicante. It is a popular spot for those who are attracted by its sandy beaches and restaurants. It is worth a visit to El Campello just to dine at one of them. Many serve regional dishes which highlight the quality of the local fruit, vegetables and fish. There are two main beaches divided by the River Monnegre. It has an impressive port and marina plus a yacht club, surf club, tennis club and football club. The narrow gauge railway linking the resorts in the Alicante region starts its journey in El Campello. It hugs the coastline for much of the journey and passengers enjoy first-class views of the different resorts such as Benidorm and Denia, where the journey ends.
If you are looking for a quiet beach holiday but close to the airport, San Juan is for you.
You can have the best of both worlds as Alicante city is just a few stops away on the tram or bus where you can enjoy nightlife, shopping museums and restaurants.
Try the local fish dishes in the restaurants. If you aren't familiar with some of the species, ask the waiter or waitress for advice.
San Juan has some fine golf courses on its doorstep.