A year ago my parents floated the idea of us going on a big family holiday…together. How nice it would be to go on holiday with their children and their husbands and children. 8 adults, 6 children all together under one roof. Gulp! What could go wrong?? Well, it turns out nothing actually….after choosing the location obviously. That part was slightly painful. But after much ado, and some recommendations from my Spanish friend we settled on Javea, or Xabia, a beautiful little coastal town in the province of Alicante, Spain and it was a perfect choice.
I love to travel. I love walking till my feet hurt from exploring. I love sightseeing, eating local food and drinking a ton of wine. I’m determined that the love of travel won’t diminish just because we have children. So, in order for everyone to have a great time we have found that we just need to realign our thinking so that everyone has a great time. It’s all about the compromise. Alan and I would both get itchy feet being by the pool all day every day on a holiday but of course we can’t be dragging the kids out exploring all day (not our kids anyway). So we’ve found what works for us is to explore areas that the kids would have fun too, and not to expect our adventures to last too long. A couple of hours is fine for them, and keeps us happy too. So, with that in mind, here are my reasons as to why Javea is great for kids AND their grown ups:
- The beaches are absolutely beautiful. It’s perfect, free entertainment for them. All you need is a bucket and spade and they’re off. In the meantime you can relax and enjoy the amazing views from any of the beaches surrounding Javea. We found the main beach was lovely and great selection of bars and restaurants along the sea front as well as several little play parks dotted along the beach. However, if you have a car you can explore a little further afield and we found Cala Baraca. A beautiful, small and quiet pebble beach with one little tapas bar. It felt like it was only locals who were on the beach and that we’d found a hidden treasure, which I totally love (in reality it was probably like Aberdour’s Silver Sands, which for those of you who don’t know it, is where all the Fifers flock when the temperature hits 15 degrees). We had a great lunch here and whiled away a really chilled few hours. And it was only a few miles outside the town.
- The Algar Waterfalls (Las Fuentes Del Algar) are just a short drive away. This should be on your list of places to visit if you visit anywhere in the Alicante region. A series of natural waterfalls and pools, where you can either just sit on the rocks nearby and take in the amazing surroundings – the entire area is a nature reserve so it really is beautiful, take a walk along the bed of the Algar (a 1.5km route) , or take a dip yourself. There are lots of areas for swimming and the kids loved the adventure of swimming in the open pools (supervised of course!) We took a picnic but there is a restaurant on site and fruit stalls and little shops on the walk from the car parks. Also if you wanted to make a full day of it you could do a morning at the waterfalls then an afternoon at the DinoPark just next to it. We didn’t manage this as we had spent so long at the Waterfalls so with a little bit of distraction (ice creams), we managed to walk by without World War 3 breaking out. From the reviews I’ve ready though it seems like a great day out for under 10s so add it to your list if you’re going to the area.
- Montgo Natural Park is a stunning site for everyone. We were lucky enough that our villa overlooked the mountain so we had great views every day. Though we couldn’t persuade them to go for a mountain walk they were excited that we were able to drive round it. A white knuckle ride for Alan but Tom and I did a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing while he kept us on the road. Rising 753 meters from the ground I hear it’s a doable 4 hour walk for those interested (me….but me without kids!), with amazing views all the way to Ibiza on clear days. For those not interested it’s a great drive between Javea and….
- Denia. A beautiful town just a short drive from Javea. Home to a castle, historical quarter, beautiful harbour with the most gigantic of yachts and 20km of beaches, what’s not to love. We had a great day out here trying to spot the biggest boat and exploring the route up to the castle. Actually, I’m not going to lie, we had an average day, but that was because we’d exhausted the boat spotting/lunch/ice cream fun pretty early on and the incentive of a look in the toy shop after the castle was a disaster, as I forgot about the Spanish Siesta and the toy shop was closed. Thankfully we were able to waste some money in Aldi on route home buying some tat that didn’t even last the day! Still, as with all days out with the kids no matter where you are in the world, there’s always going to be ‘challenges’ and we all still managed to have some fun.
- The food and drink. The tapas was amazing and it gave the wee ones a chance to try new foods without being tied to eating the entire amount if they didn’t like it, which if I’m being truthful, I would force them to normally (mum of the year right here). And let’s be honest, it’s much more socially acceptable on holiday to drink daily and, well, it makes us all better parents doesn’t it?! In seriousness, to have a drink of an evening and not worry about routines and bedtime and just let the kids run wild with their cousins was exactly what we all needed and this is what holidays for us are all about.
I mentioned at the start of this post that this was a ‘big’ family holiday and I want to be honest by saying that I had my reservations and did feel a bit anxious before setting off. My family and I are all pretty strong-minded and this means we can clash, as all families do, and I was worried this would happen on holiday together and we’d spend weeks making up. I can’t speak for the others, maybe they came back patting themselves on the back for not killing me or mine, but I learnt I need to stop being such a bloody worry wart all the time. I came home feeling so grateful for being able to do holiday where we were able to spend some great quality time together and the kids had their cousins around them. It wouldn’t have been possible without the parentals who paid for the villa of absolute luxury for our army of crazies and I’ll be banishing all anxious thoughts if an opportunity like that comes up again. Let’s all take a minute now to hope mama and papa B read this now….