Tabarca Island has seen dramatic change from days of old when it was a refuge for Barbary pirates planning attacks on the Spanish mainland. Nowadays Tabarca is known for being the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain. However, don't let its small size fool you as the island receives up to 3,000 visitors per day in peak summer season. The closest point on the mainland to Tabarca Island is the town of Santa Pola. This is great for those holidaying in Elche who fancy a day out to the island as Santa Pola is just 20 minutes drive. From the town there are several daily boat trips. If time is of the essence, you can even take a speedy water taxi.
Tabarca Island Overview
The island resembles an hourglass in shape. It is approximately 1,750 metres long and around 300 metres at its widest point. The eastern end forms one part of the hourglass and is populated by the village. The western end forms the other part and is rugged and remote. The narrow centre is home to a harbour on one side and the main leisure beach on the other. Throughout the island are pleasant nature trails, and due to it being predominantly flat, these are easy to hike.
Tabarca Island Attractions
There are many reasons for a visit to Tabarca. The surrounding waters were declared a Protected Marine Reserve in 1986, the first of its kind in Spain. Due to this, over the years the beautiful marine flora & fauna has been able to flourish and the waters remain pristine. This attracts many scuba divers and snorkelers. The souvenir shops on the island stock snorkelling masks and gear. Prices are quite inflated though, so you may want to bring your own. The surrounding coves are perfect for snorkelling, and for a bit more adventure, try cove and cliff jumping. For the more discerning visitor, there are several historical landmarks. These include San Pablo and San Pedro churches, an old lighthouse and the impressive Governor House (Casa del Gobernador).
Tabarca Island Village
The village is a hive of activity during the summer months. There are several souvenir shops, grocery stores, cafes, bars and restaurants. A highlight on many menus is delicious seafood. In fact, some of the wealthy mainland residents pop over in their speedboats just to dine on the wonderful fruits of the sea offered in Tabarca's restaurants. You will pay for the privilege though and many visitors opt to bring along a picnic. Those wishing to stay a bit longer will find a small choice of holiday accommodation. If you get queasy on a boat, don't forget sea sickness tablets.