Valencia boasts more than 2.8km (1 3/4 miles) of beaches, with excellent facilities. The Arenas and Malvarrosa beaches are just minutes from the city center. Adjoining these beaches is the seafront promenade, Paseo Marítimo, where you can walk, jog, sunbathe, or roller-skate. The beaches to the north and south of the port, Playa de la Punta and Playa de Levante, are too polluted for swimming. However, if you head south you'll reach El Saler, where you'll see the European blue flag waving; it's awarded for clear waters and golden sands.
Club Náutico Valencia, Camí del Canal 91 (tel. 96-367-90-11; www.rcnauticovalencia.com), has a sailing school that rents boats for scuba diving and snorkeling. It maintains a full yacht-service facility.
Side Trip from Valencia
Parque Natural de l’Albufera ★★ Only about 13km (8 miles) south of the city center on N-332, this stunning region is also easily visited by bicycle, as much of the roadway is paralleled by a bicycle path.
Rice farmers have labored in the flooded fields around L’Albufera—an inlet closed off from the sea for so long that the water has become fresh—since the a.d. 700s, but the 21-sq.-km (8-sq.-mile) ecosystem of freshwater lake, lagoons, and barrier beach and dunes was only declared a natural reserve in 1986. Rice fields still cover about two-thirds of the area, and produce the bulk of the tall, hard-to-cultivate Bomba strain that’s optimal for paella.
Nowhere is the contrast of built and natural environments as striking as at the beach in the village of El Saler. The eastern view zeroes in on cargo ships and tankers in Valencia’s industrial port, yet shore birds practically cover the beach of smooth flat stones. El Saler sits between the sea and the freshwater lake. You may see fishermen in small, flat-bottomed boats on the lake, mostly catching mullet or collecting American red crayfish, a crustacean introduced in the 1970s that is prized for paella. The wetlands between fresh water and salt water rank among the Iberian Peninsula’s most important breeding grounds for night, squacco, and purple herons (more than 5,000 breeding pairs) and four varieties of terns. For details on birding in the park, see exhibits and bird checklist at the Racó de l’Olla Centre d’Interpretación (tel. 96-162-73-45; http://parquesnaturales.gva.es), located at the El Palmar turnoff from CV-500. The center is open daily 9am to 2pm, as well as Tuesday and Thursday 4 to 5:30pm from May through October.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.