In early summer the Wandering Kiwi family went to Spain, not for a fly-and-flop beach holiday but to pull on our rubber shoes and spend a week rock climbing on the Costa Blanca.
Of course I have heard much about Spain’s ‘Costas’ and their reputation is as an over-developed, inauthentic package holiday destination and refuge for retirees from northern Europe. To be honest, the Costa Blanca is all of these things. You have to see to believe the endless coastline packed with holiday villas punctuated by high-rise coastal cities.
However, it is an outstanding rock climbing destination and the great weather, natural beauty, excellent recreational facilities and accommodation options are all advantages when planning a rock climbing holiday on the Costa Blanca. It is also a perfect place to combine an active rock climbing holiday with kid-friendly holiday time.
Here I outline the places we climbed (only a few of the many, many available) from our base in Calpe.
Sierra de Toix
This impressive ridgeline dominates the landscape between Calpe and Altea and the Sierra de Toix is a place where most climbers will spend at least a day during their time rock climbing in Costa Blanca. In fact it was one of the first areas to be developed for climbing and it still boasts an amazing number of routes across a wide variety of grades. Most of the climbs are accessed by driving up through the urbanisation of Maryvilla. It’s easy to find a suitable place to climb here, whatever the weather. This is the view of the Sierra de Toix from our accommodation:
We climbed at Toix Oest and especially loved the two-pitch Ana. Later in the week we moved to Toix Este – Right and did a couple of 5+ routes that were nicely challenging. The views over the sea and coastline are spectacular everywhere. I’d love to come back and do the Toix Ridge sometime.
This ancient hilltop citadel is popular with tourists for its history, religious significance and beauty – making it a great day trip inland from the Costa Blanca. It has been a military fortification since the 8th century and its long history through the Moorish period and the War of Spanish Succession makes it a fascinating place. Guadalest is surrounded by mountains and the views of the surrounding landscape, including a turquoise blue reservoir are stunning. There is a castle to explore, as well as a city dungeon, the elegant cathedral and plenty of shops and museums.
Guadalest is also a really cool rock climbing destination. We only had time for a few climbs but who wouldn’t enjoy climbing up crags that form part of the walls of a castle? There are many well-bolted routes, including the excellent Men isc casca.
This roadside crag is in a lovely green valley that is a nice contrast to the more barren and highly-developed coast. The sound of birdsong and the scent of olive trees were a peaceful accompaniment to our climbing day in Alcalali.
We headed for the left side of the crag and especially loved the Hogfather route.
Sadly, I can’t say that we climbed here because it was the wrong season – from April to July this fabulous lump of rock jutting out from Calpe is off limits for bird breeding. And the birds are very vocal about reminding you that they’re busy doing important work! We did however walk up the track as far as you can go (in this season) and around the promenade from the port, enjoying the views.
Tips for a rock climbing holiday on the Costa Blanca
The guidebook Spain: Costa Blanca by Chris Craggs and Alan James (published by Rockfax.com) is comprehensive and well put together.
We avoided places with all day sun as it was already pretty hot at the beginning of June – we climbed until lunchtime and spent the rest of the day chilling out (tough I know).
You only have to look at the Costa Blanca to see that there are plenty of options for renting holiday villas at reasonable rates and this seems the best option.
There are plenty or places to chill out on the Costa Blanca. Calpe itself is a pleasant town with two lovely beaches and plenty of places for enjoying Spanish food, including paella of course.
But our favourite was the small, end-of-the-road, former-fishing-village of El Portet. A perfect place to swim in the clear blue water, sit in a cafe eating crispy boquerones, go kayaking along the coast, or hike up to the 15th-century watchtower.
The Wandering Kiwis are already scheming about a return to rock climbing on the Costa Blanca next year.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been to Spain’s Costa Blanca? What would you recommend for my next trip there?
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