Travel to dive. An excuse as valid as any other that every year moves thousands of diving enthusiasts around the world in search of new destinations, new encounters. Because of its location in the extreme south of Europe, with coasts that face the Mediterranean, the Cantabrian Sea, and the North and South Atlantic, Spain is a paradise for scuba diving.
These are 5 of the most recommended places to discover the biodiversity that Spanish maritime funds keep:
1. El Hierro (Canary Islands)
Its location in the South Atlantic, its morphology of a volcanic island lacking in the practice of continental shelf, the small population, and the null industrial use of the island, which minimizes the dumping of waste make this Canary Islands one of the best dive destinations in Europe. Its waters have an astonishing clarity, with a visibility of up to 50 meters and an average annual temperature of 21º C. In them, Mediterranean, Atlantic, and tropical species are mixed. The place where all these excellences converge is the Mar de las Calmas Marine Reserve, in the island’s south, opposite the small fishing town of La Restinga. The eruption of an underwater volcano in the area in 2012 disrupted the quiet life of this El Hierro community and prevented diving for months.
2. Cabo de Palos (Murcia)
The shallows of Cabo de Palos are a string of rock heads that rise from about 60 meters deep until they almost touch the surface with their top. They form one of the most generous marine life ecosystems on the Spanish coast and an immense cemetery of ships that throughout history have left their hull on these treacherous rock points. Protected under the figure of a Marine Reserve, the lowlands of En Medio, Testa, Piles I, and Piles II are a refuge for almost all Mediterranean species: huge groupers, false haddocks, slaps, croakers, octopus, moray eels, castanets, barracudas, shakers and even sea eagles. The three bases are within the protection zone of the marine reserve, so diving in them has been regulated.
3. Medes Islands (Girona)
If there is an emblematic place for diving in Spain, it is the Medes Islands Marine Reserve. Starting from an area closed to fishing in 1983 around these seven islets that emerge off L’Estartit as an underwater extension of the Montgrí mountain range, a marine reserve was created in 1990 to preserve the rich flora and fauna of its low, representative of the best Mediterranean biodiversity. Large groupers, sea bream, bream, barracuda, sunfish, scorpionfish, and countless large and small species accompany the dives in this Catalan Marine Reserve. One of the best known is the La Vaca tunnel.
4. Cabo de Gata (Almería)
Under the waters that bathe the National Park Cabo de Gata, often cold, some of the best seabed in this area of the Mediterranean is hidden, with alleys or gorges of volcanic stone that form characteristic corridors. Sandbanks and large colonies of Posidonia appear between the stone walls. One of the best dives for experts is the Cabo de Gata steamer, a ship sunk 40 meters deep in Punta Baja. Easier is to dive to the Piedra de los Amarillos (better known as Piedra de los Burros) and the Amethyst area.
5. Columbretes Islands (Castellón)
Just 30 miles from the coast, almost in front of the capital Castellón, emerges the archipelago of Las Columbretes, one of the most curious and ecologically valuable enclaves in the Spanish Mediterranean. It declares it a natural park and consists of four large groups of islands, islets, and rocks. It’s almost virgin bottoms extend to the volcanic surface morphology. It consists of over six nautical miles of coastline with depths of up to 80 meters, with very varied depths, from rock to sandbanks, canyons. For the high ecological value of the area, diving is controlled and restricted in the Columbretes. The centers that operate from the Castellón coastline manage the diving permits.