Sunny stay in Santa Pola
We intended stay in Santa Pola for a couple of days and then head out to Isla Tabarca on Saturday for the weekend before continuing up the coast towards Javea. However, our plans didn’t quite work out and we spent longer in Santa Pola than planned.
When we arrived in Santa Pola, the weather forecast for the weekend was a nice southerly with a southerly swell. That was perfect for us as Isla Tabarca is a protected island and you can only anchor in one of two designated places, one of which was the north side of the island, just the side we wanted to be on ready for our departure on Monday.
As we’ve come to realise, the weather forecast in the Mediterranean is only as good as the moment you are living in and can change quite quickly. Our nice southerly never appeared and instead it was a Force 6 easterly, which with the southerly swell, would have sent us hurtling round on the anchor like we were in a washing machine again!
So, we spoke about our options and decided to stay in the marina. Decision made, we set about exploring.
I had done a bit of research on Santa Pola before we arrived and was looking forward to exploring the town, as it sounded like there was lots to do.
Santa Pola is a quaint little fishing and tourist town that is nestled in the foothills of the natural park of Salines de Santa Pola and is adjacent to a large salt evaporation pond (the salines). It's not a particularly pretty town and there are a number of areas that are really neglected. This is in stark contrast to the very smart new marina and promenade, with its bars, restaurants and shops. In a way, it's a bit like Ipswich, huge investment developing the waterfront and hope no one ventures into town!
That said, it met our needs, we did the washing, stocked up on food, beer and wine, bought bits for Offbeat and went out for a lovely meal at an Argentinian steak house. The town also had a wonderful market where I lost myself for a couple of hours!
The town was originally settled over the ruins of a Roman village and we visited the ruins of a Roman villa which is situated in a local park. There’s no security, just a chain link fence to keep the public out but you could see the remains perfectly. At one end of the remains there was the most stunning mosaic tiling, which is totally exposed to the elements and just shows how things were made to last.
We also visited the 16th century fortress, which has been lovingly restored and which houses an archaeological museum covering the different phases of the towns history. It is situated off a pretty town square, which had an ice cream parlour that sold fantastic home made ice cream.
We strolled along the prom, watching the fishermen go about there work, loading vans with the days catch and laying out nets to dry in the sun and the tourists coming off the ferries looking like lobsters after a day in the sun on Isla Tabarca.
We did try to get to the salt marshes to see the flamingos, but it was one of those places reached by car, unless you wanted to cross the dual carriageway and clamber through through shrublands, which I wasn't really feeling given I had sandals on!
By Monday, with the wind back in our favour, we headed out of Santa Pola, had a quick look at the island and headed up the coast towards our anchorage for the evening.