Diving in Columbretes Islands

Scuba diving and snorkelling in a volcanic island: The Marine Reserve of Columbretes Islands

I'd like to tell about my diving experience at a very special place: Columbretes Islands.

We woke up all excited about the day that awaited us, at last the day had come to visit the Marine Reserve of Columbretes Islands near the coast of Castellon.

I love the idea of diving at some of the best conserved and appreciated places in Spain, with guaranteed visibility many metres below the water. What's more, the isle's remote location (about two hours from the coast) makes it one of the few diving points in the Mediterranean without any classification. Better still, my partner came with me, and she was excited about spending a day on a boat, swimming in crystal clear waters and the chance to disembark at the Illa Grossa to walk along one of the routes of the Natural Park. What more can you ask for? A perfect plan for a perfect day!

We went by car to the exterior car park of the Real Club Náutico de Castellón (Royal Yatch Club of Castellón), where it's very easy to park, especially at 07.00 in the morning. The staff of Charters Casamar were waiting for us at the club entrance.

When we reached the boat, they took our body temperature, in line with the new protocols for diving centres in these times of Covid, and we handed over the documentation that Casamar had asked us for: a sworn health declaration. The boat could take 12 passengers, plus 2 crew members, and so all the red tape was actually very brief.

We boarded straight away and checked the diving equipment as they gave a detailed explanation of the hygiene and safety measures, the different parts of the boat and the programme of activities for the day ahead. Then when all that was over, they took a photo of us all as a souvenir.

We set off at 08.00. We were all very keen to get started. Music accompanied us throughout the trip and flying fish provided the occasional surprise. It was a beautiful summer day and the sea was glassy smooth.

We could see the Illa Grossa on the horizon, which only whetted our appetite to get there sooner.

Faro de las Islas Columbretes
Breathtaking view of Columbretes Isands Lighthouse


We reached the Reserve and passed very close to the island; the captain slowed the boat down so we could take photos.

The visitors got ready to disembark. The captain and the divers' guide offered hats and water for the visit; apparently it can get hot out there. The Reserve guides were waiting for us on land to accompany the visitors on their excursion. It was 10:30 in the morning.

Meanwhile, we divers got ready to head into the water in search of our first diving point. They advised us to take a ballast test, and told us that the reason why is that the water in Columbretes is saltier than on the coast.

Floating next to the boat, I could see my partner in the distance walking up the path towards the lighthouse. I emptied my jacket and, next to my diving partner and the rest of the group, we set off downwards.

The first thing that struck me was the incredibly high visibility of the water, more than 20 metres. As we went deeper, we started to see large groupers everywhere, bream, brown meagre, life wherever you looked. The rock formations reminded me of the volcanic past of this place, the landscape looked almost unreal since the wonderful visibility made you feel like you were flying. As we moved away from the walls of the island, the sea life multiplied and we could see clouds of damselfish, a school of dentex and a gang of small tuna fish hunting at high speed.


Snorkle en Islas Columbretes
Crystal clear waters in Columbretes Islands


An hour later we went back on board to rest and pick up our companions, who had returned from their trip on the Illa Grossa. Now it was their turn to enjoy a dip, not without telling us first in great detail about the views they had taken photos of from the lighthouse and the birdlife they had seen along the way. 

We divers had a snack as we watched the crew of Charters Casamar hand out flippers and snorkel masks to my partner and the other visitors. We watched them closely since we knew that as soon as they entered the water, they'd be amazed by all the fishes swimming close by and the depth of the blue sea. The kids had a great time jumping into the water from the boat and we all laughed to see how they enjoyed it. Meanwhile, we divers took a rest and got ready for the second dive.

It was 13.00 when we dived in again in search of the Islote la Foradá. Even more impressive, I was amazed. Huge groupers, lots of vegetation and a beautiful sea bed with a natural archway on the east side. We returned to the boat, following the profile of the isle and so ended an hour of pure pleasure. I found my partner next to the boat, still in the water with the rest of the group.

After the dive, we gathered all the equipment and had time for a sandwich, which we devoured. Before COVID, they offered paella on board, and we hope that one day they can go back to normal business because the service is wonderful. The company is run by brothers and that family feeling can be noted in everything they do. We all felt very comfortable and at ease.

It was 15.30h and time to up anchors and set off landwards. We were so tired that most of us fell asleep. Halfway we freshened up with an ice cream, courtesy of Charters Casamar …. At 18.00 we reached the port and a truly wonderful day came to a close.

I went with my partner, who doesn't dive, but this experience can also be really interesting for families, groups of divers and just about anyone who wants to spend a fantastic day on the sea.