There's nothing like really fresh fish.. it's one of the things I most love about my time in Spain - the supermarkets are packed to overflowing with beautiful glistening fish packed with ice .. yet it can still get fresher! My local port brings it's catch ashore every evening and you can join the event - either to buy fresh off the boats or just to see the locals haggling...
It's not the Sydney Opera House!
For sure, the person who designed the quayside in El Campello wanted to create a low-cost Sydney Opera House. To be fair, this building has weathered the extreme heat and the wild storms of the Mediterranean very weil for it's age.
Free parking (but only for 2 hours)
Normally access to the car park at the market is shut and barrier-controlled. This is very frustrating for visitors to Campello's sea front since it could probably allow for at least 100 extra cars to park at port level. However, the fishing port is controlled by the Generalitat Valenciana - not an organisation known for spending it's money wisely, or indeed money it never had. Anyway from 6pm the barrier goes up and you can pop into the fish market without needing an entry card. It comes down when the markets over though so don't think you can stay all night..
Fish you can buy
Unlike a lot of wholesale fish markets, Campello actively encourages visitors to come and see it's wares and, in addition to wholesale buyers from all the big restaurants and supermarkets, you can just buy a tray of fresh fish to take home. Sometimes they're so fresh they are actually flapping about in the market...
Gamba Roja (Red Prawns)
These are an absolute delicacy in this part of Spain and are very expensive (60,00 EUR a kilo in the markets and supermarkets), obvioulsy they can cost a small fortune in restaurants. But Half a kilo is only 30,00 EUR!! - to make them simply heat up a frying pan, sprinkle the bottom with coarse Maldon type sea-salt. Plop the Gambas into the pan and pan fry them for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with some chunks of lemon and plenty of paper towels. These lovely prawns are even better in the months of December - February (when the Mediterranean is a little cooler) and come ashore in El Campello, Villajoyosa and Santa Pola ports.
And fish you can't
A lot of the catch is sold in quotas to supermarket chains and restaurants at previously contracted prices. These big crates of Boqueron (sardines) were heading to Madrid.
The port area is split between the fishermans port on (next to the market) and the Club Nautico de El Campello on the other side. Both the Club Nautico and the explanade make excellent spots to enjoy an evening next the sea.
El Campello is located 17km north of Alicante on the N332 main road. You can best reach the town in a car hire from Alicante Airport (I would say that, now wouldn't I), however there is now a very excellent tram service connecting Alicante and Benidorm that passes through the centre of El Campello albeit roughly 1km from the beachfront itself. There's quite a lot of free parking near the beachfront and new for 2012 a large pay car park (3,00 EUR per day) to carry any overflow...
FGV Tram timetable (in English) => www.tramalicante.es/page.php?idioma=_en (new window)
Best times to go
The fish market opens at 6pm and closed by 8pm on weekdays. This is also the best time to enjoy El Campello - I'll do some articles on the best bits of the town another time! Make sure there's no local or national fiestas on - fishermen never work fiestas...