Travel Writing: Javea

After yesterday’s ‘Love Letter to Javea’, a rather wistful homage to one of my favourite places, I thought I would do some real travel writing about Javea – something less dreamy and infinitely more practical (hopefully!)  So here’s a quick run-down of all of my recommended restaurants, bars and locations in this beautiful Spanish town.

Located an hour’s drive away from Alicante Airport, Javea is a gorgeous, bustling town populated in equal measure by native Spaniards and sun-seeking holidaymakers.  The weather is mostly glorious: with cloudless blue skies and temperatures usually in the late 20s and early 30s, it’s perfect for both sunbathing and exploring the local culture.  The town is divided into three main areas: the Arenal, the port and the old town, and each are well worth discovering.

The Arenal

With a stunning view of nearby craggy mountain Montgo, the Arenal is undoubtedly the best place to eat and drink in Javea.  Come during the day and although the pristine sandy beach might appear to be a chaotic maze of tourists (ideal for people watching!), there are plenty of quiet spots dotted around the edges.  Pedalos, jet skis and all sorts of boats are up for hire, and the location is unbeatable.  Stretching from the classy Parador Hotel with its glamorous palm trees to the picturesque rocks of Cala Blanca, the Arenal’s promenade is full of delicious bars and restaurants.

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As someone with a distinctly Italian palate, I’d recommend Lungo Mare for its truly scrumptious pasta, Pepa Pizzeria for its delicious pizzas or La Fontana for both.  If Italian fare isn’t your thing, then there’s Carnaval for its Mexican and Asian cuisine (it has a tasty array of cocktails too), Geographic for burgers or Chabadaba for its crowd-pleasing menu and delectable desserts.  Speaking of desserts, there’s an impressive number of ice cream parlours lining the promenade: my favourite is Espi, a Javea staple since the 1950s, offering delicious ice cream sundaes overflowing with fresh fruit.  Afterwards, head to Baltasar or Kandhala for fruity cocktails, followed by a trip to Achill, recently visited by Matt Damon, and open until the sun rises…

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Or, if you’re bored of the sleekly sophisticated vibe that the Arenal offers, walk to the crowded Octopus bar for cheap cañas and a refreshing dose of rock and alternative music.  Forget food and drink though: the stalls are possibly my favourite part about visiting the Arenal at night.  They offer everything from emoji cushions (one of which I may have purchased) to artisanal crafts and jewellery; cheap summery bracelets to glittering paperweights.  Striking paintings of Javea can be gazed at alongside patterned leather bags, tie-dye dresses and stalls proffering natural henna and crude caricatures.  My one piece of advice is to visit the stall next to the Octopus Bar with the impeccably constructed jewellery: their creations are all beautiful, and I’m just so sad that I missed out on my favourite piece!

 

The port

Stroll along the Avenida del Mediterraneo – admiring both the villas by the roadside and the exquisite view of the sea – to the port area, taking in the range of chiringuitos that are dotted along the pebbled beach, ranging from makeshift drinking spots to elegant cocktail bars.  First stop at the port is La Esquina, with its wide range of cocktails (can you tell my priorities?) but La Quinta is also a prime spot for dinner, with its beautiful view of the silvery sea.  Although there are considerably fewer restaurants than the Arenal, they are all of good quality and offer everything from traditional Spanish food to more multicultural cuisine.  The Rani Palace on the Avenida del Mediterraneo is an excellent Indian restaurant – with a truly scenic view to match – and I’d also recommend roof-level restaurant Attico for both its delicious tapas and its truly breath-taking survey of the Javea coastline.  Be sure to visit the Port during the Moors and Christians celebrations, a traditional Javea festival that involves costumed parades, glittering fireworks and a heartening amount of community engagement.

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The old town

As Javea’s traditional heart, it is remarkably well-preserved and still brilliantly lively (in marked contrast to other old towns I’ve visited recently).  Tapas bars abound down narrow cobbled lanes – none of which I can apparently remember the name of – and Javea’s various ‘shopping nights’ across the summer offer an invaluable opportunity to sample its local boutiques by night.  My favourite is unquestionably Cactus Club, with its atmospherically Seventies vibe, range of band t-shirts (all of which were sadly far too large for me) and lovely patterned dresses and shirts, all fashioned into summery slips or Sixties-style mini-dresses.  The owner also gave my mum a gift of a 6 euro bracelet following her enquiry after the price, so you can be certain of a friendly welcome!  Visiting the old town is at its most beautiful during the dazzling sunshine, however, as its labyrinth of bustling squares and greenery-decked lanes are shown to their true perfection.  Overlooked by the imposing church, my absolute favourite spot is a small house in which all the windows and doors are adorned with verdant plants stuffed into porcelain vases.

 

Day trips

Javea is surrounded by a number of vibrant coastal towns – Denia is the nearest (and biggest) but my favourite has always been the charmingly pretty Moraira.  Oliva, with its miles-long, not-too-busy beach, is also a must – although the surrounding architecture isn’t too appealing, wandering along amidst the frothy waves gazing at the colourful sails of the wind-surfers will soon cure you of any concerns on that front.  Cliff-side Cap de la Nao offers jaw-dropping expanses of pure blue contrasted with rugged coves (and a sight of Ibiza if the weather’s clear enough) and Cap de San Antoni has a remarkable vista across the entire town of Javea.  Check out the towers in the hill-tops, or go further afield to vivid Villajoyosa, with its Roman remnants and golden beach – where I once had the misfortune to find a fly in my beloved orange sorbet.  If dipping in freezing mountain water is your thing – surprisingly refreshing and exhilarating – then Fonts d’Algar is a perfect choice; and, last but not least, the nearby theme park Terra Mitica (in the region of Benidorm) is an excellent day out.  Rollercoasters themed by ancient Europe?  Doesn’t get better than that.

 

Clockwise, left to right: Oliva beach; Villayojosa; Terra Mitica; Javea

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