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    Ecotourism. ECST (European Charter for Sustainable Tourism) accreditation for certain natural areas.

Discovering the underwater world of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve in Andalusia is simply a matter of making up your mind. Come to this natural spot, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and plunge into the crystalline Mediterranean waters. A fascinating journey awaits you through a stunning and mystery-filled sea bed in an unrivalled setting. Are you coming?

The 63 kilometres of coastline in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve are a genuine paradise for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. This enclave is the first Terrestrial and Maritime Park in Andalusia and is just 20 minutes by car from the city of Almeria. Come and discover the hidden coves, cliffs, unspoiled beaches and dunes at the edge of the shore in this desert-like landscape with its amazing coastline and crystal-clear waters, warm and clean all year round.

Thanks to the excellent underwater visibility, the mild temperature of the water from January to December, the calmness of the sea, and over a thousand animal and plant species on the sea bed, this area is a popular choice for diving fans. But remember, the park is a protected nature area. So if you decide to practise scuba diving on your own, you will need to obtain a permit from the Environment Department of the Regional Government of Andalusia. For this, you will be required to submit your official diving qualification and relevant insurance. And don’t forget that underwater fishing is prohibited in the entire park.

Another option is to hire the services of one of the specialised diving clubs in the area. These companies offer guided dives as well as courses for all levels, including technique improvement for expert divers and beginners courses. Equipment hire, underwater guides and boat transfers to various points along the coast are all included with the course. To enrol for one of these courses, you must be over 14 years of age and must provide a medical certificate confirming your suitability for this sport.

A unique experience awaits divers. You will be able to contemplate hundreds of fish of varying colours, species and sizes: starfish, octopus, sea urchins, sponges, algae, the best-preserved Poseidonia meadows along the Mediterranean coast... Caverns, ravines and caves also await you: sea beds with incredible geological formations, creating a sci-fi setting of brightly-lit areas, semidarkness and constant contrasts of colour.

Besides, the sea at the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve contains hidden “treasures”. For example, the Vapor Arna opposite Cabo de Gata itself, a steamboat almost 100 metres long that sunk in 1928 and is still in reasonably good condition; the Punta del Castillo at San José, ideal for nocturnal diving; the Cueva del Frío, a vast crevice with a cavern 14 metres long; the underwater nooks and crannies around Escollos, by the fishing village of La Isleta del Moro; and Cala de San Pedro, a cove where archaeological remains are frequently found. To do apnea diving (without tanks – holding your breath) or to snorkel, you need do no more than don your goggles and snorkel tube to observe the fascinating underwater animal and plant world. The best thing is to head for the tourist office in the park itself, where they will be able to clarify all your queries. There are also numerous other activities that you can practise locally, such as hiking, bird watching, caving, windsurfing, water skiing, climbing, paragliding, hang gliding, cycle touring, kayaking, etc. What are you waiting for?

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