With Scotland seemingly twinned with Narnia and locked in perpetual winter, I threw off my crampons, discarded my snow googles and replaced them with sandals and sunglasses, before flying out to Spain for some time on the beach in Benidorm. Last year I did the Sierra Helada, and had hoped to return to climb Puig Campana, but this holiday was really just a short break, and baggage limitations being tight I wasn’t bringing walking gear on the off chance. So this time I had to give Puig Campana a miss. Well, almost…
Instead I contented myself with a trip to Benidorm Island, a mere 15 minutes from the port at Benidorm, and according to legend, the missing chunk of Puig Campana.
The boat deposits you at the islands only buildings, and included in the €14 fee is a trip on a glass hulled boat. It’s only around 10 minutes in total, but it’s great fun while it lasts, as you watch the fish following the boat, the sun playing on the sea bed and the various plant life which coats the sea bed. Sadly the trip around the island was over too soon, and we arrived back at the jetty. The remainder of your time can be spent exploring the island. A well marked path heads uphill, passing the peacock enclosure which gives the island it’s other name, Peacock Island. The enclosure contains around three or four peacocks who appear to have seen beeter days, much like the enclosure. We continued along the path which branches off into two, one route to the summit and it’s trig point, the other to a small beach for bathing. No surprises for guessing which way I headed-up!
Within a short distance we noticed that the path was lined with nesting gulls. They employed various tactics to protect their eggs and their young. Some would sit very still, others would walk away, drawing attention away from the youngsters. Others would make a lot of noise. This was all quite manageable, and we gave them their space, while we were able to see close up (or with the aid of the zoom on the camera) recently hatched gulls, their fluffy plumage almost a carbon copy of the pattern which so effectively conceals their eggs. My eye was also caught by numerous small lizards as they darted into the cover of the vegetation, sitting still while eyeing us to see where we would go next.
Next could only be one place, the high point of the island, the trig point. As we reached the top the path ended and a small white ankle high rope stands between you and the trig point. Perched on top were a few gulls, who took extreme displeasure at our arrival. The first launched itself up, and a precision bombing strike hit the back of my tee-shirt. That was only a warning though. They began to fly around, swooping low over the heads of another couple who had came up here, and I used the break in their attention to grab a few photos. Still I couldn’t approach the trig point, it was but a few feet out of reach, but I did manage to look down a cleft in the rocks, falling 70m straight to the sea below. Then I was again the centre of attention, the gulls diving low, just missing my head. We headed down, trying to keep our heads low when BANG! One managed to get a direct hit on my head. I don’t know what part connected, but reaching up I found a smear of blood on my hand. Discretion being the better part of valour we retired, still crouching, to the lower part of the island where the birds were a bit less angry.
We decided not to go to the bathing section of the island, and to leave the birds in peace, and my head in one piece. As we made our way back down I saw what I am certain was a whale breaching the water off the island, and we stopped to watch for a reappearance, but it was not to be. I cleaned off my t-shirt at the toilets near the cafe, much to the amusement of one of the staff, who chuckled at my misfortune. The boat arrived to take us back to the port, our time was up, and we settled back in for the short trip back to shore.
If you are at all interested in seeing bird and aquatic life up close, sometimes too close, this trip is worth taking. At €14 for an adult and €11 for a child it’s not that cheap, and there appear to be no such thing as family tickets, so it can be quite an expensive jaunt. However you can stay until the last boat of the day, so you can spend a bit more time there than the short time I was there. My top tips? Go outside of nesting season- and take a helmet!