Peacock Island or Benidorm Island, a little oasis just off Benidorm’s coast
It is downright astounding that a huge majority of tourists who visit the Costa Blanca town of Benidorm miss one of its most delightful attractions. That great big rock that sticks out of the Mediterranean just over 3km’s from the coast is thought to be a piece of the Puig Campana mountain that towers over the town and coastline of Benidorm – the one with a hole in the top.
However it got there, the gigantic rock is known as Benidorm Island or La Isla de Benidorm, and sometimes as Peacock Island for the wild peacocks that somehow wound up on this rather barren chunk of land. Most of the locals just call it L’illa, which is Valenciano for the Island.
Although the town of Benidorm is one of the most popular and developed destinations on the Spanish coast, the Island remains pretty much as its been for the past uncounted centuries; it’s underpopulated except for day-trippers and hospitality personnel who operate the boat dock and cafe in the tiny harbour. This is not where you want to go for nightlife or good restaurants; save that for the town and visit the Island for a grand perspective of life on shore as opposed to bare beautiful (relative) isolation.
Cheap Day Out
Getting out there is easy and doesn’t cost much at all compared to dinner out; as of last report the round trip will set you back 15€ for adults and 12€ for kids ages 2 to 10. A boat leaves from the port in Benidorm’s Old Town every hour from 10:00 am. during the summer season only, but another is a year-round operation, leaving from the Levante Beach on a slightly staggered time schedule. Basically you can catch a ride out on one, and back on another, if you decide to spend more time on the Island.
Javea to Benidorm 45km, 45 mins by car
The trip out to the island takes only about 20 minutes, and it’s always smooth; you needn’t worry about ‘mal-de-mer’ since the boats stay at the docks in bad weather. You can spend the crossing having a snack and a drink whilst sitting either inside or on deck, or hang over the rail with your camera to catch the receding shoreline and the approaching great rock, and/or your friends and family against a spectacular backdrop.
Submarines .. sort of
Upon reaching the dock on L’illa, you’ll have the option of taking a free ride on either the Aquario or the Aquascope for a short trip around the island. These vessels are not submarines but they do have glass bottoms and sides; passengers go below decks and get a fish-eye view of the underwater landscape with its shoals of fish in an often dazzling display of colour and movement.
Before or after the underwater tour, which lasts only about ten minutes, there is a great opportunity for exploring the island. You can walk to the top without too much exertion and the view from the lookout is memorable. On clear days, which most of them are, you can get a magnificent view of Benidorm and the coastline all the way to Alicante, with the mountains beyond.
This is a protected natural park, with all the indigenous plant and animal life – including the peacocks as well as many other sea-faring birds. Keep in mind that there are very few shaded areas except for those at the cafe, but there are plenty of large flat rocks just perfect for a picnic, so if you plan to explore and stay awhile, take your lunch and some wine (or preferred potables) along and enjoy the sights and sounds of the island.
If you’re overheated after all the exercise, or even if you haven’t climbed or walked anywhere, the sea is ever-inviting; you can have a dip and swim with the fish. Though visitors are not supposed to jump off the dock, it seems as if a lot of them do anyway; that’s a personal decision, but said to be lots of fun.
Reviews of the little restaurant are mixed but those reviewers who found it less than satisfactory generally acknowledged that they were expecting a much more cosmopolitan establishment.
On the whole it’s a real bonus; you can get a variety of tapas or an excellent Spanish omelette as well as sandwiches, ice cream and drinks as you take in the view and soak up some sun – or sit under an umbrella and cool down.
As a useful note, you can print out your tickets for the round trip from your e-mail account or from the screen. The tickets are good for ten days from purchase, so you can arrange your schedule in advance. Don’t miss this chance to experience a little piece of Benidorm that’s never seen a hotel or a condo, just a lot of sea breezes, sunlit water and fabulous views.