Perfect winter sun destination

Posted on: 18 March 2016 by David Powell

David Powell discovers an alternative side to Benidorm and it's nothing like the ITV sitcom.

winter golf destination

With the cold nights dragging on, the distant memory of the summer sunshine is exactly that, a distant memory! So you can be forgiven for looking forward to your summer holidays already, but why wait. Jetting off for some winter sun is easier and closer than you think. Just a quick 2 and a half hour journey away (travelling from the UK) and you can arrive to the sunny shores of Benidorm.

Now I know what you’re thinking, images of the self-titled ITV1 show have just sprung to the forefront of your mind but stay with me, I was promised to discover the ‘other side of Benidorm’ and that’s exactly what happened!

The trip started with a remarkably easy bag drop at the EasyJet check in, which would not be the last surprise of the trip! As we stepped off the plane the sun was out to greet us, unsurprising seeing as this town enjoys an exceptional microclimate, meaning you can find sunshine all year round. I was staying at Hotel RH Royal; a four star adult’s only resort that was a 45 minute transfer away from the airport. The hotel was perfectly situated to be central for all activities, with no more than a short walk or quick taxi ride required for any activity or restaurant. Forget what you think you know about Benidorm. With a beautiful mix of a modern urban town with extraordinary architecture, coupled with the historic feel of the old town, it boasts five impressive award winning beaches and a vibrant sport scene perfect for any sport enthusiast!  I review some of the many sporting activities available throughout the year.

Marco Polo Expeditions are one of the main outdoor activity and event organisers on the Costa Blanca and offer a huge range of activities to select from including jeep tours, kayaking and hiking.

 Jeep tour

Jeep tour

When I thought of Benidorm, picturesque views from mountaintops wasn’t exactly my first thought but how wrong was I! This trip gives you the opportunity to discover the beautiful unspoiled Costa Blanca Mountains, all from the comfort of luxurious leather finished jeep. With a friendly tour guide, who was quite clearly an expert at navigating the tight, bendy roads, it’s not hard to see how this excursion has a certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor. I only experienced a half-day trip but the full day trips run from 10am – 6pm with pick up and drop off at your hotel. A highlight of the trip I am told includes swimming in waterfalls - looks like I’ll be coming back to do that one! Top tip: Don’t be fooled by the beautiful sunshine, bring a jumper, as it can get chilly in the mountains!

 Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking

Fancy working hard outdoors whilst enjoying the open water? Then this excursion is the one for you! Enjoy a two hour guided tour that leaves from the harbour. This is a truly fantastic activity where you’ll learn how to kayak in no time with an experienced instructor, so that you can explore the bay. We took a late afternoon trip and kayaked back to the bay as the sun was setting, which was incredible and highly recommendable. The trip costs €33 for adults and €27 for children (under 12) which includes kayak rental, life jacket rental, insurance and your professional instructor. This is an absolute must for sports enthusiasts, regardless of experience!

 Walking - coastal path

Hiking route on Sierra Helada Nature Park

After spending a week being blown away by arguably the best winter sun destination in Europe, I thought I had seen all the breath taking views Benidorm had to offer via the other activities. However we joined up once again with the amazing tour guides at Marco Polo Expeditions to complete an early morning hike at the Sierra Helada Nature Park. This provided us with endless stunning views of the town. The route is moderately tough as you navigate up and down the mountain but truly worth it for the views that you get to take in at the top.  You can also set the pace and there are plenty of opportunities for a rest. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to complete this hike, grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it!

 TAO bikes

TAO bikes

One of the highlights of the trip was the TAO electric bike ride. The team was exceptionally friendly and work closely with the Benidorm tourism board to ensure that they can let you know everything worth seeing on your ride. They offer guided tours for groups, which is great for seeing some truly spectacular views from an incredible skyline.  However if you opt to ride on your own, the TAO team is on hand to detail the best routes for you (dependent upon difficulty, length etc.).

You have a choice of three bikes with varying seats to give you optimum comfort for your ride –the seats were made by an Italian designer and were incredibly comfortable. If you are travelling with a small child or pet, TAO are able to adapt the bikes to add a child seat or trolley so that the whole family can travel together stress free.

As the bikes are electric, they have plenty of gears to make those steep hills a doddle; I’ve never felt so fit!  With prices starting from €12 for a 2 hour bike ride, I can’t recommend this activity enough for your trip to Benidorm. 

 Villaitana Golf Course

Villaitana Golf Course

Villaitana Golf has a driving range for you to perfect your shot before hitting one of the two courses designed by ex-professional American golfer Jack Nicklaus, each with spectacular natural surroundings. The    American styled Campo de Golf de Levante (par 72) is over 6,576m long and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and Finestrat mountains.

The Campo de Golf de Poniente (par 62) is the shorter of the courses at 3,858m long and is demanding for players with a low handicap. Following a game of golf, the restaurant has a beautiful terrace for you to enjoy some stunning Mediterranean cuisine. The facility also offers club and buggy hire.

For more information visit Melia Villaitana.

 Bodegas Mendoza wine tour

Bodegas Mendoza

With all the sporting activities on offer in Benidorm, what better way to wind down than a wine tour?! The tour was conducted in English, so it’s easy to follow the lovely story of the family business. The tour lasted about an hour and you’re taken on a journey, from the very start to see how the grapes are selected, before seeing the bottling plant cellars, finishing with the wine tasting.  This consisted of six wines, five red and one white and was accompanied by cheeses and bread to bring out the flavour of the wine. We were lucky enough to meet Enrique Mendoza and he further explained the story behind some of his wines. I would recommend purchasing the Young White Chardonnay at the well-presented shop at the end of your visit!

For more information visit bodegasmendoza.com

 

Top picks

With jam-packed days filled with sporting activities, there are plenty of places to refuel ready for your next action packed day! Below are some of my top picks!

  • Casa de la Portuguesa: A local, husband and wife run restaurant that offers a real taste of the Mediterranean. Wonderful food, great hosts, the perfect lunch spot.  After lunch, you can enjoy a walk along the beach.
  • Villa Venecia Boutique Hotel: If you’re looking for a spot of luxury, then this is your place. With a balcony that overlooks Levante beach, it’s the perfect spot for some cava before you   settle in for some five star luxury cuisine.
  • Solotula Restaurant: A casual restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere, the perfect place for good food and nice wine with great company.
  • Ulia Restaurant on Poniente Beach: If you are a paella lover, this will be your perfect spot for lunch overlooking the beach.
  • Tapas Alley – Located in the heart of Old Town, the entire street is made up of tapas bars offering food to cater to all tastes. Why not make an experience of the evening and share a couple of dishes at a few places to soak up the atmosphere?
  • Restaurant Belvedere: Located on the 21st floor of the hotel Madeira Centro, the food is first class. With helpful staff on hand to guide you through your menu selections, sit back and enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the town.

 

Conclusion

If I’m honest, I hadn’t really considered Benidorm as somewhere to come if I wanted an active winter sunshine break but there truly is a Benidorm for everyone. Not only am I recommending Benidorm as the perfect winter sports getaway, I’ll be booking my flight back there in no time!

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