Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park is located on a small peninsula in the Almerìa province (Spain). It is the first marine and terrestrial Natural Park and the largest coastal protected area in Andalusia. The park covers and impressive 45,663ha with a marine zone of 12,200ha and it was designated a Unesco Biosphere reserve in 1997. It's mountain range is Spain's largest volcanic rock formation and it still the most important volcanic area in the Iberian Peninsula.
The park has an unique flora and fauna on land and underwater, as well as a spectacular geology. The 63 kilometers coastline of dunes, sandy beaches and rocky cliffs is split down with old fishing villages such as San José, Las Negras and Carboneras. Inland, Rodalquilar provides an interesting alternative if you are interested in the mining history. Through the park the picturesque landscape has ensured that it is features in numerous Hollywood movies so keep your eyes open and you might find some surprisingly familiar spots.
The underwater contrasts of colors and the crystal water with a visibility up to 20 meters promise some top diving. The cliffs on the coast often continue into the sea constructing an amazing underwater landscape with large rock formations with small crevices and caves. Posidonia oceanica is abundant on most of the dive sites which can be seen as clear indication of non polluted waters and strong light penetration due to the crystalline waters. Here many species find shelter in the best-preserved posidonia meadows in the Mediterranean coast.
Diving in the Natural Park Cabo de Gata - Nijar is restricted so you can either apply for a permit from the Environment Department of the Regional Government of Andalusia or dive with the local dive centres, with each village having their own. Most of the dive sites are shallow with a total lack of current so prepare for some long relaxed dives.