Visiting Valencia or Alicante on the Spanish Costa Blanca and looking to escape the summer heat? Diving into the Mediterranean is a great way to cool down, but did you know that’s not only the only option? This area in Spain features various refreshing natural springs, my personal favorite of which is located in the town of Ontinyent and known as Pou Clar (“clear well”).
Keep reading for everything you need to know about organizing a day trip to this must-see location, whose waters are so clear that you can actually snorkel there!
The Pou Clar springs in Ontinyent, Valencian Community
The Spanish town of Ontinyent is located in the province of Valencia, at about an hour’s drive from the popular city that goes by the same name. It’s home to one of the more popular natural springs in the area: stunning Pou Clar, which feeds the Rio Clariano.
The area is a favorite among tourists and locals alike due to its waterfalls, swimmable pools and great surrounding hiking opportunities. The crystal clear and clean waters are icy cold. Just what you need on a blazing hot Spanish summer day! Pou Clar is quite large and consists of multiple different pools carved out by the water throughout the ages. Each has its own charm; maximum depth is up to around 5m/16ft.
I’ve visited Pou Clar multiple times and it’s by far my favorite natural spring in the wider area. The nearby Fuentes d’Algar are more popular, commercialized and crowded, but I totally recommend skipping them and coming here instead. Even just the beautiful walk up from the parking spaces, following the limestone river ravine to its source while enjoying the stunning views, makes a visit well worth it.
The spot is relatively well-managed. There is a maximum number of people allowed each day during the high season, meaning that you can always find space to lay your towel. It’s relatively clean as well.
Making a reservation
Before I tell you how to reach Pou Clar, please pay attention here. A RESERVATION IS MANDATORY at the time of writing during the high season (between July 1st and September 1st). This is part of an initiative by the local municipality to help protect the area. It’ll set you back €5, which is more than worth it in my opinion.
If you turn up without a reservation, you’ll have to buy it on the spot, but there’s no guarantee that tickets won’t be sold out for the day. Internet is also spotty in this secluded area, so it can be difficult to get a connection.
Save yourself the trouble and make your reservation beforehand on the Reserves Pou Clar website (you can translate it in your browser; it also contains information about what you can and can’t do/bring). Tickets are made available about a week in advance and you can choose between different time slots each day.
How to get there & parking
The most popular places to visit the Pou Clar springs from include Valencia, Alicante and Benidorm:
- Valencia to Pou Clar: around 85 km/53 miles (1 hour by car)
- Alicante to Pou Clar: around 90 km/56 miles (1 hour 5 minutes by car)
- Benidorm to Pou Clar: around 125 km/78 miles (1 hour 25 minutes by car; it’s closer than either of the other cities as the crow flies, but unfortunately there are no direct highways)
If you’ve got a (rental) car at your disposal, reaching Pou Clar should be a breeze, although keep in mind the mountain roads leading up to it are windy. Alternatively, you could consider a company that offers day trips, which should include transport and usually some additional extras like lunch. Excursiones de Valencia offers tours that include a stop in Pou Clar on Tripadvisor.
Getting to Pou Clar using only public transport is nearly impossible unless you’re already in Ontinyent. If this is the case, you can make use of the buses available during the weekend in high season, rent a bicycle or even choose to walk.
If you don’t have your own car and don’t want to book a day trip either, you could consider taking a look at BlaBlaCar. This ride-sharing service is popular in Spain, so you might find someone heading to the springs who you can tag along with on the cheap.
Parking & access
In typical Spanish fashion, the parking and access situation for Pou Clar can be a bit vague. Officially, you cannot park near the springs. The closest “real” parking spaces are in Ontinyent itself, like at the Polideportivo sports center about 2 km from the actual springs.
This being said, many visitors do leave their cars at the start of the unpaved roads leading to the river. Don’t try to drive down these roads; you’re not going to reach any parking zones and will just going to end up having to turn around.
Since some of the access points to the springs tend to be closed to prevent visitors without a reservation from entering, it can be a little unclear how to get there. You want to take the unpaved road (Senda de l’Alba) across from the warehouse in front of the springs area, on foot. Don’t take the unpaved path next to the road, as that won’t get you anywhere during the high season.
Keep going past a few houses and you’ll eventually reach the river, which you can then follow up to the source. There will be someone positioned somewhere along the route to check your tickets. This is a 15-20 minute walk, so bring some water if it’s hot out.
Please remember: You need to bring your own food, drinks, and the like. There are no amenities at Pou Clar aside from portable toilets during the months of July and August. Also keep in mind that eating is not allowed within the zone to prevent visitors from leaving their trash, so have some snacks before going in.
Snorkel in Pou Clar
Here’s my favorite thing about these springs: they’re so clear you can snorkel them! If you’ve got some goggles with you, definitely don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a peek underwater. I did on my last visit and spotted loads of fish, most of which were not skittish at all. They really didn’t mind me hanging out to take some photos.
Because the water is so cold (around 15 °C in August, according to my camera’s thermometer), your goggles will fog up very quickly as a result of the temperature difference with your face. To combat this, you can spit in them, or even better: use some cheap defogging spray.
I also recommend wearing swimming shoes. It really helps in avoiding hurting your feet on the rocks while getting in and out of the water.
What else to do
Got some energy left in you after your visit to the springs? There are plenty of other things to do in the Pou Clar/Ontinyent area, especially for those who love nature, hiking and history. A few of my suggestions would be:
- Head into Ontinyent. It’s small but cozy, with bars, restaurants and even a few small museums.
- Go hiking. Use an app like WikiLoc to find routes (for every fitness level) that other hikers like and explore the area’s natural beauty.
- Visit the stunning small historical town of Bocairent, which is nestled on a hillside. It’s located only about a 10 km (6 mile) drive from Pou Clar and its most famous attraction are the Covetes Dels Moros (Moorish Caves), carved in the 10th-11th centuries.
- About 20 km (12 miles) from Pou Clar is the town of Banyeres de Mariola, home to a spectacular Moorish castle from the 13th century.
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If you have any more questions about visiting or snorkeling the Pou Clar springs or if you want to share your own experiences, let me know in the comments below!