El Campello: beaches, fish from the market, a yacht club and 5,000 years of history in one kilometer

It is so close to Alicante that both municipalities share a beach.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 March 2023 Saturday 22:52
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El Campello: beaches, fish from the market, a yacht club and 5,000 years of history in one kilometer

It is so close to Alicante that both municipalities share a beach. You start walking in San Juan (Alicante) and, without realizing it, you find yourself in Muchavista (El Campello). Of course, neither the sea nor the sand are aware of this administrative singularity. Bathers sometimes verify it, because it happens that the Town Halls dispose of their resources in different ways, and it can happen that in a section of the beach a flag flies and a lifeguard watches over, and the other remains virgin and unattended.

The proximity means that the 27,000 registered inhabitants are besieged in high season by the capital neighborhood and its more than 320,000 residents, in addition to the large floating population that occupies its apartments in summer, largely coming from Madrid and its surroundings and the north from Spain. You notice it when you try to park at a safe distance from the beach and the port.

But El Campello is worth the visit. And early spring is the best time to do it. One option, both from Alicante and from Benidorm, is to use the Tram, half an hour from the capital and about 50 minutes from the city of skyscrapers.

The ideal destination is simple: the port. One of the great advantages of the fishing village is that it brings together in less than a kilometer a series of attractions that allow you to fill a whole day, even a weekend, with a wide variety of activities.

If we arrive on Friday, we will have time to see how, at sunset, the fishing boats return to the docks. The day's catches are placed on trays to be auctioned in the Lonja building, where anyone can participate. It is one of the few fishing associations in this area where the auction is public and both professionals and individuals can buy. Even if one prefers to assign that task to one of the restaurants in the area - there are excellent ones - mere assistance to the process has its charm.

In the morning, the smartest thing to do is to visit the Illeta dels banyets first, early, before the sun punishes too much. It is an archaeological site that the development of the 60s and 70s was about to ruin with the construction of a complex of apartment towers that, fortunately, was prevented in time.

The Diputación took charge of Illeta, a miracle located between two beaches that summarizes 5,000 years of history. From the Bronze Age, passing through Iberians and Romans, our ancestors left traces of their presence here that today it is possible to revive for a small fee, better if you sign up for a guided tour.

From the Iberian period, vessels, weapons, tombs and ceramic remains have been found, as well as unique buildings that make us think of the existence of an important productive and commercial activity related to other Mediterranean cultures between the 2nd and 4th centuries BC. From Roman times, some small baths have been found that would belong to a vanished agricultural town and, linked to it and to other nearby ones, some nurseries cut into the rock.

Despite the erosion, you can still make out the rafts, connected to the sea, where the fish were raised. These constructions (els Banyets) give the site its name, since according to oral tradition they were the baths of a Moorish queen. The site is managed by the Archaeological Museum of Alicante (Marq), which was in charge of its musealization.

Starting from there, after taking a bath -the area is fabulous for snorkeling- there are several options to start the walk. On one side, we have the busy yacht club, with its sought-after terrace, close to the watchtower that characterizes the local skyline, and a lively port promenade. To the north, a succession of colorful coves and beaches that have nothing to envy to any other stretch of the Mediterranean coast.

And since there is no stay that boasts without gastronomic incursion, we will say that El Campello can boast of a high level and variety of restaurants, from the classic Andra Mari -a Basque of hake, kokotxas and cod-, Brel or La Cova, which also offers an incomparable view, even a couple of Indians and Italians that are a suitable alternative for those who do not appreciate fish, the poor.