ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Oliva - The quieter face of tourism on the Costa Blanca

Updated on January 8, 2018
Dave Proctor profile image

Dave is a experienced professional photographer, now semi-retired and living the high life in sunny Spain

Market Day
Market Day

Oliva - Fantastically Scruffy

Now I should explain that in Spain many towns will have a tree covered avenue, a paseo, almost like an extra wide central reservation, with one way roads in opposite directions either side.
Generally this area is a promenade and populated during the day by gangs of old men and old women, huddled round the benches eagerly putting the world to right and no doubt gossiping about their neighbours
Then later in the day, the children take over the playground areas, the old folk disappear and the Mums take over the gossip.
In the early evening families come out for a stroll and perhaps take a glass of something and partake of the small dishes of tapas.
But once a week these paseos become the marketplace and I love a good market.

One of my favourite markets is in the town of Oliva, on the Mediterranean coast an hour south of Valencia. A fantastically scruffy place, you just know it is going to be ‘real Spain’.
On market day,normally a Friday morning and the town is a vibrant mass of Spanish mixed with the occasional foreigner. You can often tell the Spanish, they are the ones dressed like Nanook of the North if the thermometer is below twenty-five degrees.
The pavement cafés are invariably full and often the café owners will have placed further seating across the road on the central paseo area.

Produce at its finest
Produce at its finest

In the market itself, the south end of the market is reserved for fruit and vegetables. Real fruit and vegetables, misshapen, ripe but invariably fresh. The fruiterers will break open their oranges and the like to show you just how juicy they are. There are stalls selling churros a sweet batter confection that is dunked into hot chocolate, there are stalls selling dried meat and fish, stalls selling fresh eggs, stalls cluttered with spices and a little old man who sells bags of small snails.

Moving north along the Paseo, you come to the flower and pot plant stalls, their perfume making the air heady.

One thing you notice is there is no shouting, no ‘Two for a pound’ or the like, the noise comes from the Spanish love of a good chat.

Interspersed are haberdashers, cook shops and general hardware stalls.

The market then gives way to the clothes stalls of which there are two distinct types, the ‘normal ones’ with their clothes hung on a multitude of rails and the other type where the clothes are heaped onto trestle tables. Now there are bargains, sometimes you can pick up designer labelled goods selling for 2 or 3 euros. And the Spanish just love rummaging through these piles of clothes. It takes me back to the 1960s when I was a child and my Mum used to help organize Jumble Sales for a local charity.
Oliva also has an adjacent indoor market, with butchers, fishmongers and amazing delicatessens. There are also a couple of cafés, and you see groups of men eagerly devouring their ‘Almuerzo’ Breakfast. This is a late breakfast normally served between 10 and 11am and encompassing a large Iberico ham or similar bocadillo (a cross between a roll and a French stick), normally served with either a beer or bottles of red wine. These bocadillos are made with the freshest bread and really are a gourmet meal in themselves.
You can tell the non-Spanish, they will sit there with a white coffee.
At night time the Paseo becomes a vibrant mix of restaurants and bars. The good thing is it does not attract the problematic drunkards that are renowned in other parts of the Costa Blanca.
Now Oliva is not just the Paseo, the new town section, where the Paseo is, is relatively modern with nice looking apartments and shops.

The bags are of small snails -a traditional ingredient of Paellas
The bags are of small snails -a traditional ingredient of Paellas

But Oliva is a town of many parts. Move just outside Oliva past the luxury villas, towards the beach and you go through the ‘Campo’ area, a wetlands area interspersed with small waterways and roads. The area has high reeds and contains many small villas, unkempt small farmsteads and thousands of orange trees.
The beach here is always relatively tranquil, the odd sports station for dinghies, sailboards and kite surfing. The beach also has the occasional chiringuito (temporary beach bar), playing Latin sounds. There tends to be few people on this section of beach even in the height of summer. This is not an area of high rise hotels and packed beaches, it is quiet, a beautiful sandy beach, low rise buildings, campsites and good Spanish restaurants, where you can get a lunchtime three course menu del Dia including a drink for 8 or 9 euros
Go in the other direction, inland from the new town, away from the beach and once you cross over the eternally busy main through road, you then move into the old town. Lower in the old town are some fantastic grand buildings, the town hall and it’s like, however move further up into the old town, up the narrow streets with the thin white Valencian housing and you encounter a different world.

Oliva Beach
Oliva Beach
Traditional house in the Old Town
Traditional house in the Old Town

Pride of place is the square of San Roc, a grand square with restaurants around it with the San Roc church standing proudly over the square with it’s fantastic, huge metal door.
Perched on the hillside behind the church the of roads continue, some were designed only for donkeys, are generally steep and are totally impassable to cars.
Then further into this area you come across the area inhabited by Andalucian Gitanos. An ancient gypsy people who maintain their lifestyle and customs. Come into this area of a summer evening and you will see families sat in the street outside their houses enjoying the coolness of the evening invariably with someone nearby playing Flamenco guitar.
The houses in this area are relatively inexpensive and many have been bought and restored by a large number of non-Spanish.
Go further behind this area and you will move off of the Coastal plain, to where the mountains begin. Perched on the first slopes of these highlands there are a number of Urbanisations. Sprawling area of villas, most of which have a view towards the sea some 3 or 4 kilometres away.

Typical Villa on a quiet Urbanisation (this one  actually belongs to a friend and she rents it out all summer)
Typical Villa on a quiet Urbanisation (this one actually belongs to a friend and she rents it out all summer)
Of course it comes with the obligatory Pool and extensive views
Of course it comes with the obligatory Pool and extensive views

The architecture of these houses is somewhat amazing perched as they are on the hillsides, you will find houses where you enter the house via a door adjacent to the road. You will then go down four flights of stairs where you will find a door on the other side of the house to the garden.
Given that these villa are mainly built for foreigners and for people to holiday in, these villas will tend to have extensive views, often of the sea and a pool. These areas are, however, tranquil and do not accommodate bars, shops etc.

A few other things about Oliva.
Oliva provides more sports facilities than any other comparable town I know of. Everything from conventional ball sports to every type of water sports (the sea fishing is particularly good), to cycling (a Spanish National obsession), to nearby hillwalking and rock climbing. There is also the Oliva Nova Complex, with its Championship Golf Course and its Equestrian complex, which hold International competitions that attracts world’s top horse riders.
Like many Spanish towns, the good people of Olive love a party and they hold some great fiestas, many going on through the night until it’s almost time to start the next day’s festivities. I must admit their stamina to party never ceases to astound me.

Oliva is readily accessible from either Valencia or Alicante airports, being about an hour along the AP7 motorway from either.
This area has apparently an incredibly large underground lake underneath it, so it remain green and lush even in the height of the Spanish summer.
Move further inland and you will see orange groves, olive groves, orchards of almonds and forested mountains dotted with small traditional villages. A walkers and photographer’s dream.

High in the Mountains inland from Oliva
High in the Mountains inland from Oliva


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      J. Westerman 

      2 years ago

      Bernard, many thanks for giving away the secrets of Oliva, one of the jewels of the Costa Blanca.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)