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The Cockroaches of Benidorm

Updated on April 9, 2013

Is Benidorm hoaching with cockroaches?

Benidorm, situated as it is on the coast of the Mediterranean in Southeast Spain, is famous for its clement weather, for its sunshine, and for its all-year round tourist attractions.

Permanently warm, it is also home to millions of cockroaches, that every business does its best to hide from the constant influx of tourists.

You can have the cleanest bar on the Costas, but at any time one or two big ones can climb out of a nearby drain, or come up from the beach, and enter.

Within seconds of being spotted, you can be sure that your bar will be completely emptied of all its clients, as people quickly finish up and leave, believing your bar to be infested.

This is tragic for a business, because you can be sure that those holidaymakers will not return to your bar for the duration of their vacation, and that they will also advise others not to go.

This is why every bar does their utmost to ensure no cockroaches are seen by tourists.


An advert for Cucal

Hide the Cockroach!

It doesn’t always work.

Sometimes they came in and got spotted by the clients before the staff.

When this happens, as a bar owner you can expect a dip in business for at least the next fortnight.

Cockroaches are especially horrible creatures.

They actually don’t bite, nor spread diseases, but they are UGLY!!

And if you’ve ever watched them, they can move at lightning speed when they put their mind to it.

And that makes them scary!

You see one on a wall, or on the floor, and you are approaching it with a can of Cucal (the absolute BEST cockroach killing spray you can buy here), and then the bugger spots you and runs!

Then it's a mad search for it.

Where did it go? Did it go near a client? Did it go down my top (as one did before)?

I always look there first.

I remember once we ‘lost’ a cockroach in the bar.

We were frantically searching everywhere for it, and telling the customers that we had lost a contact lens, and could they stay back in case they stood on it, when I felt a tickle.

Looking down, I saw the two feelers waving about from between my breasts.

I don’t think I have ever stripped so quickly in my life before! I did remember to run into the kitchen first, which fortunately hid me and my activities from everyone in the bar.

I was having a panic attack, but by the time I had stripped off, the cockroach had gone off again. I couldn’t look for it; I was too busy trying to stop my heart from racing!

That day in particular, I ended up phoning up the cockroach exterminators and pleading with them to come and spray the bar again, as about six or seven big cockroaches had appeared.

They didn’t come.

They’d sprayed my bar about two months before this and explained (again) that big cockroaches aren’t a problem.

They come in from outside.

The poison the cockroach exterminators had already laid in the bar would stop them from breeding, and that they would visit next day to see where the cockroaches were coming from.

It turned out to be from an air conditioning unit installed low down in the kitchen – just the right height for the cockroaches from the grass outside to climb in.

We got it blocked off permanently that day.


A Cockroach Nest IS a Problem

Big cockroaches aren’t a problem. Little ones are. Little ones means there is a nest in the premises.

Once a bar has a nest, instead of getting cockroach exterminated once a year, they must pay the money to get exterminated TWICE a year.

This used to mean closing the bar for 24 hours, but fortunately a new gel has been developed that can be laid in the bar, and will kill the cockroaches as they nibble on it as opposed to having a spray substance in the air that can be breathed in by humans.

I had a nest once, but it took me six months or so to realise I had developed a problem.

These tiny little beetle-like insects started appearing. They would run along the bar surface, and myself and customers used to take turns squashing them with beer mats.

They looked harmless –cute even, I had no idea they were cockroaches!

Anyway, the time of year came around for my annual cockroach extermination, and they were identified.

Know your Baby Cockroaches

Since then, I can recognise them anywhere, and the amount of (especially) Spanish bars that have them are ridiculous.

The staff there must know what they are, and completely ignore them.

Likewise their customers.

I’ve been in Spanish bars where a big cockroach has come in, and the Spanish just see it as an opportunity for some fun, using it as a football, until the poor thing has died, else escaped back into the street.

English Bars are a different story as I have explained.

The English associate cockroaches with dirt, and big cockroaches as being an infestation, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Cockroaches live in Benidorm.

No matter how much you try to kill them all off, it’s never going to happen.

They can supposedly even survive an atomic war, so what chance do our cans of Cucal really have at the end of the day?

Benidorm, the TV series

There is a British TV comedy program called Benidorm, which is just about to start filming its 4th series, and many of my friends got accepted as extras.

I was jealous because they were paid something like €50 a day plus meals, and that seems like a fortune when you are running a bar that doesn’t have a lot of trade.

But that was half my problem, I was running a bar. I simply couldn’t take time out to appear in a TV show.

Benidorm TV series logo
Benidorm TV series logo

John & Joseph's Restaurant, Benidorm

I think it was possibly the first series that was being filmed, and I bumped into some good friends of mine that were being paid as extras, even though to be honest I never saw their faces on the show.

It was approaching lunchtime, and I tagged along with them when they went to eat.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw they were being treated to a meal at JOHN & JOSEPH’S!!

To explain, John & Joseph’s is the name of a British-type restaurant ran by Spaniards that serves what is probably the cheapest food you will see in the whole of Spain.

It is the butt of all the comedians’ jokes, who suggest that anyone who eats there is quite likely to die of botulism or worse.

The Black Chicken karaoke bar, Benidorm
The Black Chicken karaoke bar, Benidorm

Eating There

Up until that day, I’d avoided the place too.

My daughter used to work in the Black Chicken karaoke bar, just round the corner but joined via the ceiling space to John & Joseph’s.

She explained to me how the cockroach problem was a nightmare there.

It didn’t matter what the bar owner did, the cockroaches kept coming back, in their hundreds if not thousands.

In fact, all the businesses in this vicinity had the same problem, and all blamed John & Joseph’s. It didn't seem to matter how many visits they got from the cockroach exterminators, the cockroaches kept re-appearing.

I remember sitting in The Black Chicken one day, when it was absolutely mobbed as it always is (it’s a very popular bar), someone was up singing but I couldn’t look at them – I couldn’t take my eyes off the cockroach that was crawling up a fat woman’s wide sleeved arms, sitting opposite. She was totally oblivious to the cockroach!

Life is unfair. Some bars must serve something in their drinks so that the client simply doesn’t see the cockroaches that are hoaching the place.

Anyway, there I was sitting in John & Joseph’s, a first for me, contemplating the menu and adding the centimos in my purse to see if I could afford to eat out. In those days, I really didn’t eat much at all, neither in nor out .

I couldn’t believe how cheap the food was. It was something like €3 for curry and rice, or chicken and chips, or meat pie and chips or spaghetti bolognaise or whatever else was on the menu at the time.

I chose fish and chips. One of my friends chose chicken and chips. Both meals came with the plates piled high. It really was a bargain.

We were laughing and joking about eating at J & J’s. My friend was himself a comedian. I did point out that tainted chicken would make him ill, but he assured me it was lovely and cooked to perfection, and yes it really did look and smell good.

I didn’t see him for a few days after that. Apparently he was ill!!

No Blame

Now I’m not blaming J & J’s, because I ate there that day. The food was lovely and I was fine.

Another friend, Elaine, who worked as a cook in Benidorm and so knew all about hygiene laws told me that she only once ate there, and had to ask the waiter to replace her plate of food because the chips came with traces of tomato sauce already on them, the suggestion being that they came from another diner’s unfinished plate.

I checked my plate carefully, the day I ate there, and it all looked as if it had been freshly prepared just for me.

Chinese Restaurant

When I first arrived in Benidorm, I had eaten at a Chinese Restaurant on the other side of J & J’s.

The meal was lovely, and really cheap.

Chinese food in Benidorm is an absolute bargain, if you ask for the special menu at the back of the menu book.

The special menu offers a three course meal for less than the price of a single main course. All the Chinese restaurants offer it, but it generally only people who live locally who actually know about it.

My daughter had suggested I eat there, and told me to ask for the ‘special menu’.

I had a lovely meal, but I did have to pick out some very small insects that had made their way on to the plate. I’m not one to make a fuss, so I just picked them out, and ate the meal anyway. I have since realised that they were, in fact, baby cockroaches!

Benidorm Video Clip

Just to cheer you up a bit, because no-one like thinking about cockroaches, watch this short video clip taken from the TV series 'Benidorm'.

Benidorm Series 4


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    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Thanks Ign :)

      Yes the bugbusters keep having to change formulas every few years because they very quickly adapt and can't be killed by the chemicals that previously worked.

    • Ign Andy profile image

      Ign Andy 

      10 years ago from Green Home Office

      It is the most resilient animal will survive from nuclear war. They can fly, survive from electric shock.

      Great hub.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      I wrote this hub in a 30 minute hubchallenge on the forums one night. The original writings that were completed and published inside 30 minutes ended just above the headline 'Benidorm the TV Series'. I aded the rest later, just for fun :)

      Like you, I suppose, if you have lived among cockcroaches, you don't need to do much research - chances are you already have loads of stories to tell on the subject already :)

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I'm not very fond of cockroaches. What a different idea for a Hub. I lived in Cyprus for many years and the cockroaches there were big enough to make noise when they walked. Yuck.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Some of the horrible big flying insects found around these parts are worse than cockroaches! I'm beginning to think I should move back to cooler climes, just to get away from them!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      *shudder* they can fly? I think it would make me cry if I saw that...

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      I haven't seen any up in the mountains where I live, fortunately. I think they are a bigger problem on the coasts.

    • fishtiger58 profile image


      10 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Yuck I do so hate cockroaches, that's why I like living where we get a good cold winter, those nasty things die.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Yes I forgot to mention above that cockroaches can fly. I think they only fly once a year - is it in September? So you are walking down the road and one lands splat right in your face! Yuk!!

      Glad to hear your neighbour thought of running them over with his car. They say if you stamp on them, their eggs can transfer to your shoes which you then take home with you. Don't know if that's an urban myth or not.

    • expats profile image


      10 years ago from UK

      Good hub Izzy. One year where we lived the drains were not treated for cockroaches and we suffered. When the cockroaches hatched there were what seemed like thousands of them coming up from the drains, and we stood out on the footpath killing them as they tried to get inside the villa. The trouble is that cockroaches can fly, and although a few got past us we dealt with them in due course. Next door had a visitor in a rental car and he used the car as a weapon and ran over what cockroaches he could.

      As for Chinese restaurants you are so right about the low prices most charge. Those in Guardamar and other towns locally were incredibly cheap, even including wine, and schnapps at the end of the meal, all inclusive.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Thanks Justine :)

      You've got to laugh at cockroaches and what they get up to, otherwise you'd cry! Horrible creatures! Yuk!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hey Izzy I really enjoyed this. I lived in an apartemnt once that was infested with cockraoches. They are impossible to get rid of!!! I dont even live in a place where they are all that common outside. I hope you don't mind but I laughed right out loud at the cockroach down your shirt. I would have flipped out if that happened to me! Great hub.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Haunty, when you have environmental health breathing down your neck, when it is the Law to pay a Bugbusting company, you find out where they come from!!

      But even blocking off their access that time, didn't stop them walking in the same open door that the customers came in..

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Thanks MOW! It's a lot easier to write about something you know about and don't have to research :)

      And I HATE cockroaches too!

    • Haunty profile image


      10 years ago from Hungary

      Great hub, Izzy. You lucky to figure out whence they'd come. I once lived in similar conditions and I never found out how to get rid of them. Thank you. :)

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      @Cags Thanks - it's funny for me now too - just not at the time!

      @Ohma - thanks for that. I'll get tweaking later, because there are quite a few more things I want to say about cockroaches not mentioned here so far.

    • myownworld profile image


      10 years ago from uk

      Yikes izzy! You know I hate cockroaches more than anything else in the world, still I made myself read this hub, and think you did a fantastic job! I always knew you were brilliant... but a hub in 30 mins! Well done...:)

    • Cagsil profile image


      10 years ago from USA or America

      WOW! is right. Great job Izzy. Excellently done. I do not care for cockroaches myself and I had to live with them for a short period of my life, because the landlords where I lived would not do something about them. I did find it funny that you had one between your breast and had to strip, but then again, I find humor in many things that people do not find funny. Sorry, if I offend you, but it is funny. However, awesome work regardless. Thank you for taking part in the challenge. :)

    • Ohma profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow Really great Izzy.


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