Hiking, cycling, and walking tours around Valencia and the Costa Blanca are an alternative to relaxing at the beach.
There are also riding schools in a number of towns in the region, which provide classes as well as trekking opportunities. Pick up brochures at local tourist offices.
Water sports are widely available, and you can learn to sail in most of the major resorts. Kitesurfing is becoming increasingly popular; the necessary gear is available for rent at many of the beaches, including Santa Pola, and the same applies to windsurfing. A wide range of companies offer scuba-diving excursions, and in the smaller coastal towns it's possible to dive in the protected waters of offshore nature reserves if you book ahead.
This region is a bird-watcher's paradise. The main coastal plain is a migratory highway for thousands of birds winging their way between Europe and Africa. The salt pans of Santa Pola and Albufera Lake are particular hot spots.
Abdet. The Sierra Mariola and Sierra Aitana regions are both easily accessible from the Costa Blanca resorts. Abdet, near Guadalest, offers itineraries and traditional self-catering guesthouses amid breathtaking scenery. www.abdet.com. From €400 for 1-wk accommodation.
Ciclo Costa Blanca. If pedal power is your thing, Ciclo Costa Blanca is a good place to start, with both guided and self-guided tours. Meta Bike Cafe Comercio Enara 2, Calle Vell de Altea 24, Valencia, 03581. 966/868104; www.ciclocostablanca.com. From €399 for 7 nights (self-guided)..
Julià Travel. Bus tours from Barcelona to Girona and Figueres (including Teatre-Museu Dalí) are run by Julià Travel. Buses leave Barcelona Tuesday–Sunday at 8:30 am and return around 6. Carrer de Balmes 5, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/4026900; www.juliatravel.com. From €76.
Mountain Walks. Self-guided or guided bird-watching, mountain-walking, and cycling tours are customized to suit your requirements, with picturesque cottage accommodations, meals, and transportation included in the price. San Gregorio 4, Quatretondeta, Alicante, Valencia, 03811. 965/511044; www.mountainwalks.com. From €725.