At the heart of the Costa Blanca, where tourism is perhaps the most intense of the entire Region, it is pleasing to discover how its seabed is also among the most spectacular. So it is with the routes proposed in Altea and Benidorm, where it is possible to ﬁnd little caves that never lose sight of daylight, islets full of underwater wildlife, an abundance of species only comparable in size and variety with destinations further from the coast, and endless thrilling satisfactions for lovers of marine nature.
In the tourist resorts of Benidorm and Altea, more than anywhere else, it is evident that an adequately conserved environment is a relevant factor when tourists are choosing a destination, at the same time as enabling the leisure facilities on oﬀer to be complemented. This aim of blending diverse uses and activities for the preservation of the environment, has led to the designation of the land and sea Nature Park of the Serra Gelada and its seaboard area. It covers a total of 5,653 hectares, mostly in the maritime environment of Benidorm, L 'Alfás del Pi and Altea. Coming within the scope of its protection are the entire Sierra and the islets of La Mitjana at the foot of the Serra Gelada itself, L 'Olla and La Galera in the Bahía de Altea, and the wellknown Illot de Benidorm, which in spite of its limited size constitutes in itself an area of exceptional interest, both for the presence of some relevant endemic plantlife amongst which Silene hifacensis, the Ifach silene, a rare variety of campion, stands out above all as well as for being the nesting area of various species of marine birds.
La Serra Gelada, on its seaboard, has impressive cliﬀs over 300 metres in height and with pockets of vegetation of exceptional value, notably the hanging fossil dune and the peculiar vegetation colonising it. Moreover, the sierra shares various botanical endemic organisms with the neighbouring Peñón de Ifach.
With regard to the fauna, the main richness is in the marine birds, amongst which the common shag, seagulls, the storm petrel and even carrion birds like the peregrine falcon are noteworthy. In the underwater environment, the seagrass meadows of Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea are important, which are found in a very good state of conservation and harbour a multitude of species, including examples of Pinna nobilis or pen shell. The seabed of this environment has an exceptional variety and richness, with abundant natural life and good visibility of the waters. This is even more surprising given that it is a much frequented tourist area.
Hence the Nature Park is an ideal way to reconcile economic development with the conservation of the values and resources of the natural areas. Especially noteworthy is the seabed of the Llosa de Benidorm, a totally submerged mountain rising from a depth of 35 metres to a little over eight metres below sea level and sheltering a generous representation of the best Mediterranean ﬂora and fauna.