Duration: 1 hour. Moderate. Steep steps at start, stone tracks, long flight of steps at end. Very little shade, but occasional concrete benches to rest on.
This walk takes you from the pleasant shingle beach of Torres along the rugged coastline to the 16th century watchtower of Torre d’Aguiló and spectacular views of the skyscrapers of Benidorm.
As you arrive at Playa de Torres from the main road, you’ll notice a ghost town grid of empty streets and pavements; another casualty of the property crash that hit the Spanish economy like an express train in the crisis of 2008. Only now is the promised development slowly starting to take shape. You’ll also see the recently restored Roman funeral tower, the 1,800 year old Torre de Sant Josep (for more info, see my blog on the Romans in La Vila)
Start the walk at the opposite end of the beach from the campsite, following a path and rough steps up to the headland. From there, follow the track along the cliffs towards Benidorm. It’s well marked, with signs saying “Colada de la Costa” and stone “Via Pecuaria” markers at regular intervals. Vias Pecuarias were drovers’ roads used by shepherds who brought their flocks down from the mountains in winter.
The path winds in and out, following the contours of the coves and cliffs; all you’ll see are rugged sea views, pretty little flowers among the rocks in springtime, plus the occasional mountain biker (it’s a popular route) and walkers like yourselves.
About half way through, you’ll notice the tiny cove of Raco de Conil down below, a nudist beach served by a narrow tarmac road that comes over the hill from the main N-332. It’s a long way down from our path though (and feels even longer back up), so you have to ask yourself; how badly do I want to go skinny dipping?
Assuming you’ve passed on that opportunity, continue onwards towards the Torre d’Aguiló, which you can see poking up over the top of the hill ahead.
Walk past a wire fence and as you near the tower, there’s plenty of shade among the pine trees and the odd picnic table to rest at. Then the final lap is a flight of steps that leads up to the tower itself.
It was built in the 1500s to protect the coastline from North African pirates, who were then a real menace to the settlements along the Costa Blanca. These corsairs kidnapped local people and sold them in the slave markets of Algiers; they even once raided as far as Ireland in their search for slaves and booty.
Back then, the tower would have been manned by three soldiers whose job was to spot any incoming ships and give warning by lighting a signal fire on the platform at the top.
It has been restored, and there is a modern metal staircase that takes you into the tower itself, but it was firmly shut and padlocked when we were there. Opening times are clearly a mystery.
Even without going up the tower, the views are spectacular. Out in the bay you’ll see the Isla de Benidorm; it’s uninhabited and a nature reserve, but you can catch a boat from Benidorm. Some have underwater viewing panels so you can see the flourishing marine life.
Immediately below you lies the pretty beach of La Cala de Finestrat. Pretty, that is, if you’re looking out to sea. If you look inland, the bay is completely overwhelmed by high rise tourist blocks, the biggest of which is not much more than a concrete skeleton.
And the next bay along is the tourist mecca of Benidorm. Until the 1960s it was just a fishing village; now it has the greatest number of high-rise buildings per capita in the world (says Wikipedia). Compared to the stark tranquility of the walk along the cliffs, it’s almost like gazing down at a different planet.
That’s the end of the walk. There is a steep path down from Torre de Aguiló to La Cala de Finestrat. If you’re still feeling energetic, cross the beach and then climb up to Tossal de la Cala on the opposite side of the bay. The headland was a strongpoint in Roman times, and was settled by ancient Iberian people long before that.
You get an even more spectacular vista of the Benidorm skyline and the huge Playa de Poniente beach from up here. You can’t miss the giant M-shaped Intempo building which dominates the bay. It’s the tallest residential tower in Spain and yet another casualty of the Spanish property crash. Mired in financial scandal, the building was still empty the last time I looked, even though it was completed in 2014.
Cala Finestrat has its very own eyesore that’s been empty for even longer. Work stopped on The Atrium Beach Hotel, a huge concrete pile that dominates the little bay, back in 2003 following the deaths of two workers. There was also a little matter of a number of extra floors being built without permission on top of the hotel, a common scam on the Costa Blanca before the crisis.
If you don’t fancy tackling the return leg on foot, you can get a bus back to Villajoyosa (or to the turn-off to Torres on the main N-332 road) from Carrer Xaloc in Cala Finestrat. Bus info here.
Or if you’re feeling peckish, stop off for a good lunch at Restaurante Casa Modesto right on the beach at Cala Finestrat. The rice dishes are well worth a try.
If you’re still feeling energetic, you might like to try more walks around La Vila:
© Guy Pelham 2017