A view of Tabarca Island

A day trip to Tabarca Island – everything you need to know before you go

Just a short boat ride from Alicante is the beautiful Isla de Tabarca, the smallest permanently inhabited island in Spain.

The Island of Tabarca is the perfect place for a day trip for all ages, whatever the time of year. In less than an hour you can be away from the bustling cities and towns of the mainland, and step into another world surrounded by beautiful, blue sea.

We recently took a Tabarca Island boat trip from Alicante, read on to see some photos from our trip and find out everything you need to know before you go…

The sign at the port of Tabarca Island

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Where is Tabarca Island?

Tabarca Island is an islet in the Mediterranean Sea, close to the town of Santa Pola, in the province of Alicante on the Costa Blanca. The island is located about 22 kilometers southwest of Alicante city.

When is the best time to visit Tabarca Island?

The best time to visit the Island of Tabarca is in autumn or spring, when the weather is warm, the sea temperature is still good for swimming, and there aren’t too many crowds.

The island can get extremely busy during the peak summer months, and you may find that it’s much too hot to spend much time in the sun which will limit what you can do on the island.

Tabarca Island boat and sea views

How to get to Tabarca Island

If you want to visit Tabarca Island you have a few options:

Tabarca Island from Torrevieja: A boat leaves from Torrevieja Port to Tabarca Island every day except Sunday, and takes around 1 hour. The boat leaves Torrevieja at 10:45am and the return trip leaves Tabarca at 6pm. Tickets cost €27 for adults and €19 for children.

Tabarca Island from Santa Pola: The quickest journey to Tabarca is from Santa Pola. From the port in Santa Pola there are a number of boats doing regular trips including the quick taxi boats that takes just 15 minutes. The taxi boat goes to Tabarca every day and costs from €15.

Tabarca Island from Alicante: You can also travel to Tabarca from Alicante port. The Tabarca Island ferry from Alicante takes approximately 1 hour and costs €23 per person. The boat goes to Tabarca Island daily leaving at 10:45am or 1pm, and returning at 4pm and 6:15pm. This is the option we chose as it’s a glass bottom boat which is great fun for kids. If you want a more leisurely journey you could opt for the 6-hour catamaran cruise from Alicante to Tabarca Island!

Tabarca Island ferries from Alicante

Tickets can be bought at the ports, however we’d really recommend buying them in advance especially in busy seasons when they do sell out fast.

Is Tabarca Island worth visiting?

It’s definitely worth visiting Tabarca Island at least once! If you like traditional Spanish towns and villages, you can’t get much more traditional than Tabarca Island with it’s narrow streets, colourful buildings and lack of cars, large shops, chain restaurants, and cinemas that you find on the mainland.

Tabarca Island port

The sea is crystal clear with many fish and marine life visible around your feet, and shallow water to wade out into. You can walk around the whole island in no time, with some amazing views out to sea and towards Santa Pola and Alicante.

Tabarca Island boats and sea view

If you’re looking for a day trip from Alicante or Santa Pola, then you should definitely add the Island of Tabarca to your list.

A few facts about Tabarca Island…

  • Tabarca is the only inhabited island in the Valencian Community and has a population of around 70 people.
  • The island covers an area of only 0.3 km2 – it’s 1,800m long and 400m wide
  • Tabarca Island was originally used as a base by Berber pirates in the 18th century. In 1760, King Charles III ordered the fortification of the island and its transformation into a settlement to protect local fishermen from pirate attacks.
  • The island is part of a marine reserve called the Tabarca Marine Reserve, popular among divers and snorkelers due to its diverse marine life.
  • Tabarca Island has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest due to its historical and cultural significance.
Tabarca Island archway

What is there do to on Tabarca Island?

Tabarca is only a small island so you won’t find a heap of activities to keep you entertained, but there’s definitely enough to keep you busy for a day out.

Some things to do on Tabarca Island include…

Spend the day on the beach

Most people visiting Tabarca Island will spend the day on the beach. There’s one main beach, a small sandy beach called Playa de Tabarca, with sunbeds and umbrellas which you’ll see directly in front of you when you get off the boat. This beach is close to lots of bars, restaurants and toilets so ideal for families.

Playa Tabarca

If you venture away from this beach and head up the paths you will come to lots of smaller beaches and coves which are much quieter and secluded but without any facilities.

All of the beaches on Tabarca Island have lovely crystal clear water ideal for paddling, swimming, snorkeling, and spotting fish though most are quite stony rather than sandy.

Tabarca Island crystal clear water

Explore the island

Tabarca Island’s old town has lots of narrow, winding streets, full of traditional colourful buildings, which you have to wander up and down to see what life on the island is like for the residents.

Tabarca Island colourful buildings

You’ll also come across some historical landmarks, such as the San Miguel Arcángel Church and the Governor’s House.

Tabarca Island church and seaview

The other part of the island is unspoiled, with a lighthouse surrounded by plants, rocky cliffs, and panoramic views. There are plenty of paths through the vegetation here so you can explore this part of the island.

Tabarca Island lighthouse

Buy some souvenirs

In the narrow streets of the old town you’ll find plenty of small shops selling local crafts and products, from jewelry and clothes, to pictures and household decor.

This is the perfect place to buy some souvenirs for your loved ones as well as some memories of your trip, so wander through the streets and see what you can find.

Tabarca Island streets

Grab lunch by the sea

There are lots of restaurants on Tabarca Island, including seafood restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Spanish dishes like caldero, a rice stew, and paella.

You’ll also find bars to grab a snack and a drink as well as an ice cream, when you feel like you need to find some shade away from the beach. On such a small island you can be sure of some great views where ever you decide to eat.

Tabarca Island restaurants

The restaurants nearest the main beach are pretty expensive but if you wander into the old town you can find some quieter restaurants that are a bit cheaper. However, you will definitely notice an increase in prices here, which is to be expected from a tourist trap like Tabarca!

Tabarca Island hidden cove

Book onto a free walking tour

To find out more about the island, you can book onto a free walking tour of Tabarca with an expert local guide. Meeting at the port you’ll spend 1.5 hours walking the streets of Tabarca, learning more about the history of the island as well as stories, legends, and where the best places to eat are.

Tabarca Island beaches

Can you stay on Tabarca Island?

Even though it’s only a small island, there are a few accommodation options if you decide you want to stay the night and spend a couple of days there.

You have the Boutique Isla Tabarca, with bright, stylish, colourful rooms and beautiful views of the Medittaranean Sea, or you could opt for the Hostal Nueva Tabarca, with beachfront accommodation 200 metres from Tabarca Beach.

If you’re planning a day trip to Tabarca Island, we hope you enjoy your visit!

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