Valencia Region, Costa Blanca, Spain
In one of his poems, Tono Fornés states that the insolent sunset in Denia invites us to clap like we would between two movements of grand opera. To do so you must first find the appropriate location, of course. This location, without a doubt, is that of the coastline from the port of Denia which designs the beach of La Marianeta Casiana and a little beyond the rocky beaches of Les Rotes. From here any place is a good spot to watch the show, but I highly recommend one by the sea. An ample gravel road parallel to the beach leads to Helios Bar, an establishment with a splendid terrace overlooking the sea. There, accompanied by a few beers in summer between 8:00 and 9:00 pm I have experienced the sunset many times. The light that follows as well as the calm sea has invited me, following the instructions of the poet, to shout Bravo! Bravo! But I have been demure and opted to remain silent and ask for another beer.
Out of the many destinations to choose from in the Costa Blanca, Denia is definitely one of the most desirable. Located where the Province of Valencia ends and Alicante begins, an area badly beaten by commercial tourism. Denia has a few things that make this town special unlike other destinations such as Benidorm, Gandia and Cullera. For starters, it is a charming town, with its own rhythm, it has a history and retains a quaint old quarter with winding streets wonderful to walk through and discover. Its humble neighborhoods, next to the castle or by the sea are full of color, with houses painted blue or peach. The more affluent areas include palaces and houses of a certain stature particularly around Loreto Street, close to the church square. All in a typical Mediterranean atmosphere with people chatting on the streets or sitting in terraces surrounded by palm trees. Denia has a splendid climate, a little hot in the summer but very mild the rest of the year which makes it a preferred destination for thousands of Germans and Dutch ex pats.The town has a large fishing port that supplies many of its restaurants. Widely known as the gastronomic capital of the Costa Blanca, it is a great place to savor picaetes (tapas) like sepia (squid), calamari and cuttlefish; suquet de rape (stewed monk fish). The traditional dish of Denia is arrós a banda a succulent rice dish made with local fish stock. Around the area of Rotes there are several restaurants where to taste this dish such as el bar de Helios, very good! as well as other restaurants a little further along the coast line: The Farallo (Fenix, 10), Sendra (Pda. Les Rotes, 137) or Mena (Final de la Rotas s/n). All of them serve tasty culinary delights such as dried octopus and the famous gambas rojas, a special breed of shrimp found in the waters around Denia, served simply boiled or grilled and nearly as coveted as truffles. The abundance of excellent raw materials and a tradition for good food has resulted in a culture of good cuisine and innovation, given birth to one of the best restaurants of the Mediterranean coast, El Poblet, located on the road to Las Marinas (Ctra, La Marinas Km. 3). Its food has been making headlines for decades. Choose among the cotemporary rustic rooms with views of the kitchen, alfresco dining on the terrace or the glassed pavilion.
The town has also one of the liveliest and most colorful markets of the Valencian coast. The stalls of fruits and vegetables are great, well stocked with locally grown produce. In the butcheries you can find excellent sausages (red, white or black) of the area ideal for preparing tasty bocadillos and in the fisheries you can find the fish and shellfish just unloaded from local boats . If your plan is to make delicious paella this is the place to go to find the best and freshest produce. It is curious to observe the proliferation of stalls (butchers, bakers, etc.) opened by Germans that supply the large colony of expats that live in the area. I advise you to visit the market first thing in the morning as it gets very crowded as the day progresses.
So far I have written about walks, food and spectacular sunsets but when visiting you must dive into the warm and clear sea. The area of les Rotes is wonderful for scuba diving or just snorkeling with a simple mask and fins. There is plenty of sea life to be enjoyed among the rocks. If on the other hand you are craving white sandy beaches where to sulk in the sun and take long relaxing walks the best thing is to travel a few miles by car north to Oliva. Close to the Oliva Nova Hotel, a resort for golf aficionados, you will find the best preserved sand dune beaches of the Mediterranean coast. There you can enjoy miles of unspoiled beaches among very few people, when I am visiting I swim here daily.Close to the town is the natural park of Montgó worth visiting to take a leisurely stroll or to admire the stunning views. You can also enjoy superb views from the Palau del Governador (Governor’s palace), a Moorish era castle perched high on a hill in the center of town. The castle is worth a visit though I must warn you that in the heat of summer the ascent on foot is a little daunting, but on the descent you will find your reward at Verdú, Avenida de Marques de Campo, where they serve delicious homemade ice cream and meringue. On second though, I am not sure what is more rewarding, having an ice cream or meringue at Verdú or walking down to Loreto street for an ice cold beer and tapas. Okay, let's have the beers and tapas and then ice cream. Letting time go by until you can head out to Helios bar and watch the sunset.
It is really a very special opera, what with the sound of the seagulls in the background, joggers running placidly by, and a warm sea breeze to relieve the heat. Ah, and an ice cold beer on the table. Yes, you too will become a great Opera fan!
If you are looking to stay in Denia you will find a variety of accommodations from the more expensive and luxurious such as the Denia Marriott La Sella Golf Resort and Spa located next to one of the best golf courses in the Valencian Community, it offers a world class spa and numerous activities from horseback riding to wine tastings or MR Les Rotes Hotel constructed on the base of old manor house to the more budget friendly like La Racona Hotel in a splendid location in front of the wonderful Las Rotas beach. To check out more Denia accommodations follow this link. If you are planning on staying in Denia for a longer period of time consider renting a Denia Villa or Apartment which will afford you more independence.
For day trip ideas remember there is ferry service to Ibiza and Mallorca as well as cruises along the coast taking you to other beach resorts like Javea, Calpe and Altea. I would highly recommend you rent a car which will give you the freedom to enjoy all of the delights of Denia and it's surrounding areas.