Tabarca Island

Tabarca Island is the only inhabited island on the Costa Blanca. Famed as a pirate hideaway in days gone by, a visit to the island makes for a fantastic day out during a stay in Orihuela. Tabarca lies roughly 5 kilometres off the cape of Santa Pola and can be reached from several  mainland coastal destinations. To best preserve its natural beauty and wildlife, it was declared a protected marine reserve and bird sanctuary in 1986. To further protect its environment, no combustion engine vehicles are allowed on Tabarca, allowing for wonderful peace and quiet.

Tabarca Island
Source: Flickr / Joana Albaladejo

Tabarca Island Boat Trips

With Santa Pola being the closest point on the mainland to Tabarca, it offers the widest choice of boat trips. These include fast water taxis, boats and ferries. Should you wish to visit the island from Torrevieja, there is a lovely glass bottomed ferry that takes around 40 minutes. There are also Tabarca Island trips for the more adventurous. These include jet ski tours and snorkelling safaris. The drive from Orihuela to Santa Pola takes around 45 minutes. Torrevieja takes approximately the same time should you wish to enjoy the thrill of the glass bottom boat.

Tabarca Island Layout

Measuring around 1,800 metres long and 400 metres wide, the island is easily explored in a day. It is also relatively flat, making it a pleasure to walk for children and the elderly. Viewed from above it looks like three small islands joined by strips of land. The central part houses the village, entertainment venues and accommodation. This is flanked by a harbour on one side and a leisure bay on the other. On either end is the main rural body of the island and a small rocky islet. Further afield are some even smaller islets which are excellent for snorkelling.

Tabarca Island Amenities

Days out to Tabarca are extremely popular. At times during peak season it can receive up to 3,000 visitors per day. To cater for the masses there are a scattering of souvenir shops, a couple of boutique shops and several grocery stores. These are handy if you haven't brought along a picnic. Alternately, Tabarca boasts some of the best seafood restaurants on the Costa Blanca. There are also several cafes, bars, Spanish restaurants and accommodation options.

Tabarca Island Atractions

Many visitors to Tabarca are there for the excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. As the surrounding sea is a protected Marine Reserve, the waters and marine life are pristine. Bring your own snorkelling mask or set to avoid the inflated prices of the souvenir shops. Should you wish to try scuba diving around the island, there are dive centres that arrange trips. Tabarca is criss-crossed with many hiking trails. These lead to attractions like its old fort, museum and the churches of San Pablo and San Pedro. Casa del Gobernador (Governor's House) is also well worth a visit. Finally, if the budget allows it, splash out on a delicious mixed seafood platter.