The small island of Tabarca is actually an archipelago formed by three islets: La Cantera, La Galera and La Nao, which surround Isla Plana or Nueva Tabarca. This whole complex is located about 4.3 kilometers from the cape of Santa Pola, in the Mediterranean Sea, and is actually a district of Alicante, a city about 22 kilometers away. Today we explain what it is and what to see in Tabarca.
The island, not the islets, has an area of about 30 hectares, about 18 soccer fields, and its overall dimensions are 1800 meters long by 400 meters wide. The name Isla Plana derives from its low altitude, as it does not exceed 15 meters above sea level.
Currently, just over 50 people live in this territory on a permanent basis, although in summer there are more. However, during the first half of the 20th century it housed more than 1,000 people.
TABARCA ISLAND: MAP
History and Charm of the Town of Tabarca
From its origins, this island was fortified by King Charles III to accommodate slaves rescued from Algiers, an initial population coming from the Tunisian island of Tabarka. Its old town and fortress are silent witnesses of those times, while today, surnames such as Manzanaro, Parodi, Pomata or Chacopino recall its former inhabitants. If you are more interested in History, you can consult a very interesting article about Tabarka.
Video of Tabarca
Exploring the Nature and Coves of Tabarca Island
The Tabarca’s natural set of surprises. Trails leading to coves such as Cala Illa, Cala Blanca and Cala del Francés invite you to immerse yourself in the serenity of its crystal clear waters, providing an ideal landscape for nature lovers.
Tourist Activities in Tabarca: what to do
Tourism is the driving force of this island. During the summer, numerous visitors arrive daily, ready to enjoy beaches, coves, snorkeling and diving. These activities represent the main attractions of Tabarca.
Points of Interest to see in Tabarca
The island of Tabarca is home to a wealth of history that is palpable in every corner.
Port La Caleta, the first encounter when arriving by boat, not only reveals the port but also houses the Museum of Nueva Tabarca, located in the historic Almadraba building. This former fishing structure, now converted into a museum, tells the fascinating story of the island from its roots to the present, offering a detailed view of its evolution over time.
The wall and its three gates are a must to see in Tabarca. The Gate of San Rafael, also known as the Gate of Levante or La Caleta, represents one of the emblematic accesses to the walled enclosure of Tabarca. This access, steeped in history, leads to the square of Carloforte, linking the island with its Italian past and the relationship with Alicante over the years. Here is a map to help you find your way around and find the three doors.
On the other hand, the Puerta de San Miguel, located near the Baluarte del Príncipe at the northern end of the island, is another historical vestige that recalls the maritime past and the direct connection with the old wharfs. Its ancient walls still whisper stories of daily life in bygone eras, offering a window into the island’s maritime past. On the far left you will find the Puerta de la Trancada or San Gabriel Gate.
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the only church on the island, adds a touch of spirituality and architectural beauty to Tabarca. Built at the end of the 18th century in a baroque style, this church, located near the sea, stands out for its design in the shape of a fleur-de-lis, presumably inspired by the coat of arms of King Charles III. The name San Pedro y San Pablo echoes the history of the island, formerly known as Isla Plana de San Pablo.
Exploring the Island: Beyond the Obvious
Let’s talk about the beaches of Tabarca. Cala del Francés, Plaza Mayor and Tabarca Beach are destinations that complete the visit. These places, with their characteristic charm, reflect the Mediterranean essence and offer opportunities to discover the history and natural beauty of the island. We leave you an image of Tabarca Beach on the left.
The “Tourist” part of Tabarca
The “less touristic” part of Tabarca
In this part of the island you will find less touristic coves and beaches, such as Playa Seca or Playa Peladilla, as well as other elements such as the Tower of San Josep or the Lighthouse.
Now, knowing what to see in Tabarca, there are other attractions to discover, such as the small nearby islets, the lighthouse, the walls or Punta Falcón. The invitation is clear: discover them for yourself and enrich your experience in this corner of the Mediterranean.
Boat Schedules to Tabarca from Santa Pola and Benidorm
We leave you the schedules, normally until October 31. The price is around 10 euros per adult and 9 euros per child if taken from Santa Pola and the tickets are purchased online. More information and updates on the official website.
|Origin/Destination||Summer||Rest of the Year|
|Santa Pola to Tabarca||Daily departures: 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 5:00 PM||Single departure: 11:00 AM|
|Tabarca to Santa Pola||Daily returns: 1:30 PM, 4:30 PM, 6:00 PM||Single return: 4:00 PM|
|Benidorm to Tabarca||Single departure: 9:00 AM||Single departure: 10:30 AM|
|Tabarca to Benidorm||Single return: 4:00 PM||Single return: 5:30 PM|
Tabarca, with its historical charm and natural beauty, stands as a fascinating destination in the Mediterranean Sea. From its ancient fortifications to its pristine beaches, the island invites visitors to immerse themselves in its pirate legacy, explore its cultural heritage and enjoy the serenity of its coastal landscapes.
Whether exploring the historical points of interest such as La Caleta, the Museum of Nueva Tabarca or the ancient gates that gave access to its walled enclosure, or immersing yourself in nature through its idyllic coves and beaches, Tabarca offers a unique experience for all travelers.
Planning a visit during the summer to take advantage of the tourist activities or choosing other times of the year to enjoy its quieter atmosphere allows each traveler to discover the island according to his or her preferences. We recommend that you stay in one of our accommodations in Benidorm, that you go one day with the car to visit the pink lagoon of Torrevieja (for a while) and spend the day in Tabarca.
In short, Tabarca captivates with its deep-rooted history, its marine landscapes and its Mediterranean charm, being a destination that promises to surprise and leave an indelible mark on those who decide to explore it.