Discovered by the Phoenicians centuries ago, this once tiny fishing port is to be found almost halfway between the provincial capitals of Alicante and Valencia. Javea lies in a valley between the two imposing headlands of Cabo San Antonio and Cabo La Nao, from which on a clear day it is just possible to see Ibiza some 40 miles away.
It is bordered to the north by the magnificent Mount Montgo which rises to over 2000 feet above sea level; affectionately known by local residents as the ‘sleeping elephant’, a term used to describe its remarkable similarity together with its comparable shape and size. Once seen Montgo cannot be forgotten. Its lower slopes planted with neat groves and orchards of grape vines, almond, orange, lemon and olive trees give way to a vast expanse of pine forest.
Careful planning, sadly lacking in other areas of Spain, has ensured that Javea has managed successfully to integrate its modern development alongside its traditional heritage and culture giving residents and visitors alike a chance to enjoy the best of both worlds.
There are Three Distinct Areas
The Old Town – of great architectural and historical interest, lies a kilometre inland – a maze of narrow twisting streets, elegant whitewashed houses with Gothic windows and wrought iron balconies enhanced by numerous pot plants. The central, cobbled main square, is dominated by the fortified Church of San Bartolome, built from local tosca stone, cut in rough blocks from the seashore and then sculpted into shape by local craftsmen.
Just opposite is the building that houses the daily (except Sunday) food market where fresh bread, fish, meat, vegetables, and all types of groceries can be purchased. Those less willing to participate in the actual task of shopping may view the bustling activity that goes on here from the pleasant confines of a small bar situated in the corner of the market, where all types of drinks, coffee and tapas are available.
From the Port, known as Aduanas del Mar, fishing boats still leave the harbour in the early hours of the morning and return at the end of each afternoon to unload their vessels and auction their catch by the quayside, a noisy but fascinating daily event.
The more modern church of Santa Maria del Loreto in the Port was consecrated in 1967 having been built by the fisherman of the Port who, in 1962, promised to build a shrine to the Virgen de Loreto if she would save them from the terrible storm in which they found themselves. Inside, in a touching tribute from the miraculously-saved fishermen, the ceiling has been built to resemble the hull of a fishing boat as seen from underneath.
The Marina itself boasts many boats of all sizes.
The third area is the main sandy beach, the area being known as the Arenal. The beach is shaped like a horseshoe and a wide stretch of golden sand gives way to a gradual descent into the clear waters of the Mediterranean, making it an ideal place for safe bathing. There are a wealth of cafes, shops, bars and restaurants, which cater to every taste. There are also a number of smaller beaches and coves to explore for the more adventurous.
During June and July some of the region’s age-old customs are re-enacted by the local people.
From the second week in June for ten full days Javea celebrates the ‘Hogueres de San Juan’ culminating on the 24th with a spectacular firework display and burning of a huge effigy. There are processions in national dress, street parties and competitions.
During the last week of July the Moors and Christians dramatically re-enact the Christians victory with processions, ‘battles’ on the beach and live music in the evenings.
The first week of September sees the Fiesta in the Port – ‘Mare de Deu Del Loreto’ and takes place in the Parish Church of Aduanas del Mar – the remarkable church near to the fishing Port.
Moraira, Gata de Gorgos
Benissa, Calpe, Jalon
Javea has numerous tennis courts open to the public throughout the year.
They are situated as follows:-Club de Tenis
Carretera Cabo La Nao
Complex L’Ancora Playa El Arenal
Ciudad Residencial Toscamar
Carretera Cabo La Nao 5km
Area of Balcon del Maron del Mar
There are a number of golf clubs in and around the area.
Prices vary and you are advised to book in advance.Javea
La Sella (Denia)
This trip takes a full day to be able to appreciate it all and stop for lunch.
Leaving Javea, either take the country road through Benitachell to Teulada, or take the Gata road from Javea roundabout, and head for the main N332Alicante/Valencia road. Turn left onto this road, direction Benissa/Alicante and drive on until you enter the town of Benissa (note the huge cathedral, visible on the right as you approach the town).
Drive through the main street and as you leave the town, watch for a junction on the right marked ‘Jalon’. Turn right here and you enter the Jalon Valley, noted for its breathtaking views of pink and white almond blossom in the Spring (February), which covers the whole Valley. All the way along you will pass fields of vines (small, stunted and gnarled trunks covered with light green foliage) and orange, lemon and grapefruit trees (with dark foliage).
Drive through Jalon town and immediately on leaving the built up area, the road passes alongside a dry riverbed on the right, with rough parking areas (this is where the flea market is on Saturdays – well worth a visit). On the left are several bodegas where you can sample local wines from large storage kegs.
Continue out of Jalon until you reach ALCALALI, which the road by-passes (watch for the Stations of the Cross along the roadside – the whole village goes round in procession during Easter week). Just beyond Alcalali you come to a T-Junction, and you will see signposts for many local restaurants, all of which offer very good value menus. In particular La Solana, (the biggest sole you’ve ever seen), and Restaurant Pepe which are all to the right of the T-junction. But if you are heading for Guadalest you need to turn left towards PARCENT and again you will see signs for several good restaurants, including Castellvi, Los Almendros and Valbon. However if you want the best paella on the Costa Blanca, then you must eat at Restaurant L’Era in Parcent. You will see the signs for this as you get close to the town.
Leaving Parcent, head for TARBENA and you will now start to climb the Sierra Bernia mountain range, reaching a height of about 2000ft. At the first peak , ‘Col de Rates’, there is a bar/restaurant called ‘Merendero’ , which is not always open as the owner is very eccentric, but it is a good place to stop as the views stretch as far as Valencia to the north and Alicante to the south. This is the only peak with this view, as you now head inland and other peaks will be obscured.
Drive on to Taberna, again the road by-passing the old town. Some people drive this far to visit the famous ‘Casa Pinet’ restaurant, owned by a man named Geronimo and specialising in suckling pig, which he apparently hunts and prepares himself. If you want to eat there, you will have to follow the signs to the old town.
After Taberna you pick up the signs for CALLOSA D’ENSARRIA which is quite a large town and the centre for the local nispero industry ( nisperos are small fruits which look like apricots and taste like a peach/mango). You will see large areas of nispero trees covered in plastic sheeting, depending on the time of year. In the centre of Callosa you come to a roundabout and you will see the sign for Guadalest to the right. Follow the road, which runs along the river valley. If you still haven’t eaten, then look for Restauarant El Riu, which is about half way between Callosa and Guadalest and is very pleasant with views over the valley.
Continue on this road until you see ahead of you the village of GUADALEST, perched up on a hilltop and eventually the road climbs up to the town. There is a supervised car park on the left as you enter, for which there is a small charge. The roads in Guadalest are all stepped. Go through the tunnel in the cliff to the inner town, with views of the reservoir down below the town walls. (It is possible to access the reservoir and walk all around it. Look for the signs ‘Embalse de Guadalest’ as you enter or leave the town). There are numerous shops, cafes, and museums in Guadalest to interest you.
When you decide to head back home, you can do a shorter, quicker route. At the end of the car park as you leave Guadalest (the way you came in) you will see a very narrow road to the right, marked Benidorm. After several yards it meets a wide road at a T-junction. Turn left and head toward Benidorm. The road continues for some distance, until you reach a crossroads at the town of POLOP. The road back is right, but if you wish you can go straight across into the town where, in the square, you will find scores of fountains pouring pure spring water through troughs all around it – take some plastic bottles to fill.
After turning right (or left if you went into the town) go along the road to the old town of LA NUCIA. Drive along the main street and near the far end watch for a sign to ALTEA, which is down a steep incline to the left. NOTE if you miss this turning, you will go all the way into Benidorm, which is another day out by itself. The Altea road winds downhill into the town, which is well worth a visit. Steep flights of steps lead up to the church plaza, from where you have beautiful views of the coastline. Enter the town, passing along a short, narrow piece of road between some old Spanish houses on each side. You will come to a junction where you must turn left (the road ahead being one-way) along the main shopping street of Altea. About half way along you come into the square with the Town Hall on the left (you will see the flags outside). Just beyond the square take the next road on the right, which will take you down a one-way street (keep left) and through traffic lights out on to the main Alicante/Valencia road again. Turn left at the lights towards Valencia and if you can park around here, it is worth a walk along the splendid new promenade.
Head back towards Benissa and back the way you came, or if you are still feeling adventurous and are not worn out by now, you can go through Calpe (signposted ‘Calpe Sur’) at a junction off the main road before Benissa, where you bear to the right, going through the town and on to the coast road to Moraira, which is a very pretty route. From Moraira follow the signs to Benitachell and the Javea, to bring you back into familiar territory.
Walk Up Montgo
Please note that this walk is tiring. You must take water with you. The top section is very rocky, so ensure that you wear sturdy trainers or walking shoes, not sandals. There is very little shade on a sunny day, so ensure sun protection and wear a hat.
Finding Montgo is quite easy, it’s that enormous hunk of mountain, which marks the boundary between Denia and Javea. In order to reach the starting point for the walk, you need to take the mountain road from Javea old town (sign-posted on the right as you enter the town at the brow of the hill in the one way system). The road stops climbing after about 4km and then you have a short flat road. Along here you come to a bar on the seaward side of the road. Opposite is a broad track, turn in here and park.
Montgo is right in front of you now, and the first stage of ascent is to follow the track towards a small pine wood. Once in the wood you come to a farmhouse and you should take the right fork along another track to the right of the mountain. To date, there is a sign nailed to a pine tree indicating a track off, which reads ‘Montgo 751 mtrs’ It is obvious that this is the route.
After a few minutes you are forced to leave the comfort of the broad track and merge left onto the footpath – the obvious route to take. If you stop and look at the haul that awaits you, you may feel inclined to give it a miss! It really does look imposing and long, but don’t dismay, whoever built the well defined path to the summit knew what he was doing. The path, though narrow, zigzags along, with just the right amount of inclination so as not to tire too quickly. We suggest frequent stops for a breather while you take in the fantastic coastal views. All around you are many lovely wild flowers and in particular, lots of small palms known locally as ‘palmitos’. These are used for making the sweeping brushes that you see so often in the markets.
After a while of criss-crossing the lower slopes among the palms, you will find that the path comes to the edge of a wide shallow gorge. Here the way gets slightly steeper and follows the edge up the gorge head. Right here is a hollow under the rocks, and the ideal place for a decent rest. If you manage to tear yourself away from the tranquil haven you will find that the path levels out a little and continues north. Soon it doubles back to the eastern ridge. This really is a mountain ridge in all its glory. To your left there are the most incredible views of Javea and Gata, with the Penon do Ifach, Sierra Bernia, Ponoch and Puig Campana mountains in the distance.
The path on this stretch is somewhat poorly defined, but thanks to someone’s efforts in painting little red arrows and dots on the rocks, you can weave your way up with no problems. If your idea of a mountain top is a plateau with a large mound of stones, a cross, and an eagle’s eye view into infinity then this won’t disappoint you – it is all of that and more! From the cross you can follow the crest of Montgo for a while, to yet another cross on its western tip, where Denia comes into focus.
The return trip is back down the same route. This is a classic of climbs in the region and you need to allow a comfortable two to three hours, depending on rests, to reach the top.