A string of attractive little towns and beaches stretches from Gandía to Altea, before you reach the developments of Benidorm and Alicante, but your own transport is essential to enjoy the best of them, and accommodation can be pricey. The least expensive option along this coast is to camp – there are scores of decent campsites, and a useful booklet listing them is available from local turismos.
DENIA, at the foot of Parque Natural Montgó, is a sizeable, sprawling town even without its summer visitors. Beneath the wooded capes beyond, bypassed by the main road, stretch probably the most beautiful beaches on this coastline – it’s easier if you have a car to get to most of them, though there are a couple of buses that make the trip from the port.
At the heart of this area, very near the easternmost Cabo de la Nao, is XÀBIA (Jávea), an attractive, prosperous town surrounded by hillside villas, with a fine beach and a very pleasant old town. In summer, both Denia and Xàbia are lively in the evenings, especially at weekends, as they’re popular with Valencianos. There are plenty of idyllic cove beaches close to Xàbia; one of the best is Cala Portitxol (also known as Playa la Barraca), a wonderful sand-and-pebble bay backed by high cliffs.
Heading southeast, you pass the dramatic rocky outcrop known as the Peñón de Ifach, its natural beauty offering a stark contrast to the concrete towers of the neighbouring package resort of Calpe (Calp). If you’d like to enjoy the coast for a night or two, ALTEA, just 11km to the south, is a more attractive proposition: a small resort set below a historic hilltop village, with views overlooking the whole stretch of coastline. Tourist development is centred on the seafront, where there’s a pebble beach and attractive promenade of low-rise apartment buildings interspersed with tottering old fishermen’s houses.
The old village, or poble antic, up the hill, is even more picturesque, with its steep lanes, white houses, blue-domed church and profuse blossoms. In summer, the entire quarter is packed with pavement diners and boutique browsers.