My 73-year-old parents are avid hikers and walkers. They also love visiting the town of Calpe in Spain. Known for its famous rock, the Calpe Rock or Penon de Ifach, Calpe is the perfect spot for my parents as they can combine their love of Calpe with their love of hiking. That’s also why, yesterday, I found myself hiking halfway up the side of the massive Calpe Rock, with my parents quite a way ahead of me, as I had to stop for a breather.
One of the most stunning rock formations in the world, although it took me a while to get to the top, I have to say Calpe Rock is a must-hike or climb if you’re in the Calpe, Spain vicinity. The views are simply spectacular.
What is Calpe Rock? – If you’ve spent any time in Calpe, Spain or just driven past it, you’ve seen Calpe Rock. An enormous calcereous rock, Calpe Rock sticks out into the ocean right in the middle of Calpe, separating the two promenades and two bays. Rising more than 330 meters above sea level, you can see the rock (Penon de Ifach), from more than 30 miles away.
A trail goes all the way up the rock to a tunnel carved into the hill about two thirds the way up and, on the climb up, there are spectacular views over to Albir, Altea and Benidorm on one side and Moraira on the other.
More than 100,000 people climb Calpe Rock every year, either by hiking up the side facing the town or climbing up the sheer rock face on the opposite side.
How to Get to the Calpe Rock Trail – Calpe Rock is located on the ocean front in the town of Calpe on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Separating two bays, it’s actually situated right at the end of the town’s fishing harbor and marina.
Getting there is easy as it’s so massive, there’s no way in heaven you could ever miss it. Simply walk or drive down to Calpe’s beach front, keeping the rock in your sights. Follow the signposts to the harbor and to the rock and, once past the harbor, you’ll see a small street which climbs to the base of the rock. Here, you can park your car and go though the gates onto the trail. The Penon de Ifach is a protected nature reserve, and one of the most fascinating things about Calpe.
What You’ll See on the Rock and What Not to Miss – First of all, don’t ever go up Calpe Rock without your camera. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Benidorm, more than 30 miles away and, on the other side, out past the town of Moraira. With gorgeous views over Calpe itself, as well as down into the greeny-blue crystal clear water below, you’ll take some of the best photos of your vacation here.
The first part of the hike up the rock is a wide pebbled road, which opens out to the Visitor’s Center. There you’ll find a small museum, where everything is in Spanish, but still worth seeing as the views through the windows onto the harbor are gorgeous. There’s also an exhibit where you can manipulate buttons and hear the various bird cries common to the Calpe area, which is fun, particularly if you have children with you. At the Visitor’s Center, there are also toilets.
Once past the Visitors Center, you’ll go through a small turnstile. Entry onto the rock itself is free; the turnstile is just a way for the nature reserve to keep a count of visitors.
The path then twists and climbs up the rock for around 30 minutes. It’s paved with wide stones but is a little difficult to walk on, as you have to hop from stone to stone. Take it slowly and you’ll be alright, and make sure you use the handrail, which lines most of the path all the way to the top. Don’t miss taking photos of the huge seagulls here too. They’re sat all over the rocks and are so used to visitors they barely bat an eye as you walk by.
Don’t forget too, take photos at every turn as, the higher you climb, the more spectacular are the views.
At the top of the hike, you’ll arrive at the entrance to a tunnel that was hand-hewn out of the rock more than 100 years ago. Once through the tunnel, you’ll see views out over the ocean but, as the tunnel is quite dangerous (there’s a lot of large rocks and it’s difficult to get a footing), most people tell you to avoid going through. My parents and I avoided it, as none of us felt like plummeting off the edge and into the ocean below.
The walk back down from the tunnel is just as lovely and easier, of course, than the walk up. From the car park up to the tunnel and back is a leisurely one and a half hour walk and absolutely superb all the way up and back.
Precautions to Take Before Going up Calpe Rock – Before you set off, remember to wear appropriate footwear – walking shoes or climbing boots are best, so you can get a good grip.
Don’t leave the marked paths, don’t drop any garbage and, of course, don’t pick any plants as, after all, it is a protected nature reserve. You can take your dog, just make sure he’s on a leash at all times so he’s not off chasing seagulls or falling off a cliff, and try not to make too much noise. It frightens the birds.