Ticket sales for the Boat trip from Benidorm to Tabarca.
The Island of Tabarca is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Costa Blanca. Located 11 miles off the coast of Alicante, the island measures just 1.800 meters in length and 400 meters in width. It is the only inhabited island on the Costa Blanca with approximately 30 permanent residents during the winter, although during the summer months the island welcomes approximately 3000 visitors per day.
Boat trips from Benidorm operate from Easter until approximately the end of November. During the summer months the excursion goes directly to Tabarca stopping off at Campello to pick up more passengers, then on to the island, giving you approximately 6 hours to explore the island at your leisure. There is also another option which allows approximately 2 hours 15 minutes in Tabarca and 3 hours in the commercial area of Alicante.
The island is officially called New Tabarca or Isla Plana and has an interesting history. The name Tabarca comes from the Tunisian Island of Tabarka or Tabarqah. The Tunisian Island was used as a base during the North African military campaign of 1541 because of its strategic position.
Once the island was under Spanish rule, a commercial agreement was reached with important Genoese traders in 1543 converting the island into an important fishing and red coral trading post. The Genoese controlled the island’s trade for two centuries with huge profits causing tension with the Tunisians.
As Spanish military interest in the island declined Tunisia reclaimed the island taking the Genoese captive as slaves until they were rescued by the Spanish between 1768 & 1769 and brought to Alicante.
This coincided with plans to colonize the island permanently, preventing its use for contraband activities and as the base for the many pirate attacks along the coast.
Under the reign of Carlos III, work began to fortify the island which then became known as New Tabarca in memory of the birth place of the freed Genoese on the Tunisian island of Tabarka.
The fortified city had three entrance gates built into the wall, named after the archangels, San Rafael, San Gabriel and San Miguel, as well as a church and a watch tower strategically built to observe the coast and a house for the governor, which has been completely restored respecting the original structure and is now the Hotel Boutique Isla de Tabarca.
The Genoese settled down to life on the island, even though it was never an easy place to live. There was no running water on the island so inhabitants had to rely on wells, storage tanks and even ships which brought water from the mainland. Drinking water only arrived on the island in 1984 and electricity in 1998.
The Genoese established an Almadraba, a traditional Mediterranean art of tuna fishing which was introduced into Spain by the Moors, this became their livelihood. In the 60’s exploitation of the Almadraba without control in Mediterranean countries led to a shortage of tuna which seriously affected the profession. The decline of the Almadraba fishing industry coincided with the increase in tourism to the area.
The original Genoese inhabitants and their descendants born on the island are buried in a small cemetery on the island. Their Italian surnames can still be heard in and around Alicante, surnames such as Galiana, Parodi, Jacobino, Ruso, Raggio and many others.
The island was listed as a heritage site in 1964 and a marine reserve in 1986 due to the rich fauna and flora around the volcanic material of the island. The marine reserve is protected and has strict controls on activities to guarantee the conservation of the flora and marine animals in the area. The unaltered Mediterranean waters are populated by molluscs, shellfish, sea urchins, octopus, bream, purple starfish, eels, sponges and many other species.
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