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Moraira has some of Spain’s best paella – and none of the crowds of nearby Benidorm


Moraira has some of Spain’s best paella – and none of the crowds of nearby Benidorm

Spain’s Costa Del-icious! Moraira has some of the country’s best paella – and none of the crowds of nearby Benidorm

Here I am, in the Costa Blanca seaside resort of Moraira, taking what the Spanish term a paseo — leisurely early evening stroll — to see the huge bronze sculpture El Gigante De Sal (Giant of Salt).

It is the artists Coderch and Malavia’s ode to the ability of the human spirit to be reborn after a collective tragedy.

Covid springs to mind.

Located next to the ruins of Moraira’s 18th-century castle, the sculpture — a human form ready to spring to life — is an extraordinary sight against the twilight sky, but equally life-affirming is the local scene.

A salsa band is in full swing, and children twirl on the esplanade, caught up in the fun. The smell of fresh paella wafts; locals stroll in three-generation family groups bound for dinner, where happy chatter and wine will flow until past midnight.

Kate Wickers explores Moraira, a Costa Blanca seaside resort that lies 50 miles north of Alicante

Moraira, some 50 miles north of Alicante, is a rarity in having dodged the rampant building boom of the 1960s and is a far cry from Benidorm 40 minutes south. Its popularity with Spanish holidaymakers has kept it authentic.

The roof terrace of Captain Andy’s (Spanish-owned for 30 years) gives fine views over Moraira’s swanky marina, where the well-heeled sip a contemporary twist on sangria, made with cava.

At El Lloc Del Poble, housed in one of the town’s oldest dwellings, they serve classic tapas such as tortilla, calamari, and grilled sardines. Inside, on the casa’s white-washed walls, look for the black-and-white photographs of Moraira from the 1940s and 1950s when it was a simple fishing village.

‘That’s my great-grandfather,’ the owner tells me, pointing to a blurry picture of a man wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and rolled-up trousers, a shade darker at the bottom, wet from wading from boat to shore.

While my three sons (ranging in age from 17 to 22) head to L’ Ampolla beach, which has water sports equipment hire and volleyball nets, I prefer pretty El Portet beach in the two-shop, one hotel, and three-restaurant village of the same name, less than a mile from Moraira. In this cove, a sliver of sand dips gently into clear shallow water and my favourite restaurant — Restaurante El Portet — sits above, with views across to Penon de Ifach, a huge limestone rock.

The smell of fresh paella wafts through the streets of the resort, Kate reveals (file photo)

The smell of fresh paella wafts through the streets of the resort, Kate reveals (file photo) 


EasyJet ( London to Alicante from £79 return. VRBO ( has villa rentals in Moraira from £341 for a week in May (sleeping four). Visit

Carpeted in a scrub of juniper, lavender, and white pine, Ifach’s craggy ledges make ideal nesting sites for gulls and cormorants. To view these limestone cliffs, book a self-drive boat from Moraira’s marina and take binoculars to spot the peregrine falcons that glide on warm thermals ready to raid the nests of the seabirds.

In Moraira’s weekly outdoor Friday market (one of the Costa Blanca’s largest), I browse Mediterranean plants while dreaming of a garden planted with lemon trees, with a hammock (also for sale here) strung between them; before picking up treats to take back for breakfast.

Drive inland and Gata de Gorgos is perhaps the most scenic village, with an ornate church dating from 1535. We stop at a simple restaurant and order a smoky paella, cooked over a woodfire. If ever there was a scene to reassure me that human life will endure, I think perhaps this is it.

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