Costa del Azahar
The southern continuation of the Costa Dorada is the Costa del Azahar ("Orange- Blossom Coast"), the beautiful stretch of coast which extends in a wide arc along the shores of the provinces of Castellón and Valencia. The longest and flattest stretch of coast in Spain, it gets its name from the countless lemon and orange-trees which grow all along the coast. The orange-blossom pervades the whole region with its delicate fragrance, and the mild climate makes this stretch of coast ideal for both summer and winter holidays.
Costa del Azahar Map
Coast Road to Tarragona
N 340 leads through orange groves and plantations of olives, passing the rugged limestone crags of the Peña Golosa (1,831m/6,009ft), and comes, 21km/13mi from Castellón, to Benicasim (alt. 15m/50ft), a tourist resort set amid plantations of palms, with a very clean beach. From the Desierto de las Palmas above the town there are extensive views of the coast.
Oropesa del Mar
8km/5mi beyond this is Oropesa del Mar (alt. 33m/108ft), picturesquely situated on a rocky hill crowned by a ruined castle which dates from Moorish times. The Cid took the castle in 1090 but was obliged soon afterwards to give it up. The quiet little town now earns its living from agriculture and tourism. Near the town, on a crag above the sea, is the Torre del Rey, a 15th century watch-tower which now houses a small museum of the sea (objects found along the coast, fishes and other marine fauna).
Alcala de Chivert
N 340 from Oropesa del Mar runs through arable country to Torreblanca, with the seaside resort of Torrenostra, crosses a (usually dry) river-bed, the Rambla de las Cuevas, and comes to Alcalá de Chivert. Just outside the town the ruins of the Castillo de Chivert can be seen on the right in the Sierra de Irta. The town's Baroque parish church has a striking tower which tapers towards the top.
Peñíscola is perhaps best known for the castle which towers above the little town.
A few kilometers beyond Peñíscola is Benicarló (alt. 11m/36ft), situated amid orange-groves. The parish church (1743) has an octagonal tower with an azulejo-clad dome and a magnificent doorway. The 18th century Casa del Marqués de Benicarló now houses a small "kitchen museum" with a variety of old domestic equipment.
From Benicarló the road runs through vine-growing country and comes, 75km/47mi from Castellón, to the fishing port of Vinaroz (alt. 6m/20ft), the last place on the Costa del Azahar, which is famed for its king prawns, freshly caught here and appetizingly served.
Gruta de San Jose, Vall de Uxo, Spain
Location: Province of Castellón; at Val de Uxo, 26km/16mi southwest of Castellón de la Plana. Features: A long gallery (about 800m/880yd), traversed for part of the way by an underground river (boats). Many fine sinter formations (stalactites, etc.). Colored lighting, music.