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16
Aug
2017

The Columbretes Islands: where nuture and legend go in hand

Considered the most characteristic archipelago of maritime environment on the Valencian coast, the Columbretes Islands are one of the most interesting and attractive places to visit for those spending a few days in Peñíscola or in Alcocéber

The archipelago is composed of a series of islets and reefs, all of which reach a depth of over 80 metres..

Views of the arcipelago of the Columbretes Islands from the air

For centuries, these islands were only contemplated or visited by people who were essentially dedicated to the sea, such as sailors and fishermen, but as we shall see, also constituted a symbolic strategic point for smugglers and pirates from different eras.

Therefore these islands were sources of constant comments and stories. In fact, many people believed that the archipelago of the Columbretes Islands were an imaginary place that people talked about without any absolute proof of their existence. It was always the seamen who mentioned the islands which created the great curiosity of local people from the nearby villages. As an example a legend that relates the Columbretes Islands with a guarded treasure hidden by pirates: a treasure that has never been found.

The Columbretes have also been related to the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, since many objects have been discovered in the seabed that were directly related to these civilizations. Clear testimonies that have become authentic references, such as the discovery of very characteristic plates, anchors and other items from these eras.

Formerly known as the islands of snakes (although there are no snakes on the islands now), this archipelago is of volcanic origin and is situated halfway between the Castellon coast and the Balearic Islands, with excellent enviromental conservation and different animal species and plants that are increasingly rare in the rest of the Mediterranean . Examples include the Andoain Seagull, Eleonora Falcon, the Columbretes lizard and very unusual marine snails of immense value, and many other unique species.

Views of the islets from the lihthouse of the Columbretes Islands

With a wide variety of flora that is very similar to the Balearic Islands, there is just a short distance of about 30 miles which separates the islands from Alcocebres beach. An area of great natural beauty, and declared as a wildlife reserve in 1988. And from that year a special effort has been made to conserve certain types of endangered species. Due to this, the archipelago of the Columbretes Islands has also gained the title of marine reserve.

Therefore, this particular marine reserve has slowly become one of the richest marine environments in the Costa de Azahar.

Different marine species in the Columbretes Islands

To maintain an optimal level of conservation on the islands, the archipelago has an excellent team of professionals who work every day to maintain this intricate balance that characterises this extremely fragile ecosystem. Their work is focused on preventing any damage to the fauna and vegetation.

It could almost be said that we are referring to a small desert in the sea, where the absolute tranquility combined with the peculiar sound of seagulls and the sound of the sea is a calming contrast to its hostile surroundings of rocks and reefs.

As in the distant past the archipelago was characterized by being full of snakes and vipers, which was said to be the result of an volcanic eruption, the columbretes islands represent the best example of volcanic formation. For these reasons, the islands still retain some inhospitable and desert conditions, given to its complete absence of trees.

The mytical lighthouse of the Columbretes Islands

It could almost be said that we are referring to a small desert in the sea, where the absolute tranquility combined with the peculiar sound of seagulls and the sound of the sea is a calming contrast to its hostile surroundings of rocks and reefs.

As in the distant past the archipelago was characterized by being full of snakes and vipers, which was said to be the result of an volcanic eruption, the columbretes islands represent the best example of volcanic formation. For these reasons, the islands still retain some inhospitable and desert conditions, given to its complete absence of trees.

Among its islets, we highlight the following:

- The Carallot: is the southernmost of all islands. It is over 30 metres high and is surrounded by a peculiar crown of rocks.

- The Foradada: Its distintive natural arch, formed between the rock and crystal clear waters, almost resembles somewhere on the Caribbean.

- The Ferrera: with a rough surface that adopts different shades, with a clear predominance of gray and orange, this islet offers spectacular views of the archipelago.

- L'Illa grosa: is crescent shaped and considered as of one of the most ancient, formed about one and a half million years ago.

At its highest point is located its mythical lighthouse, overlooking the smaller islets , such as La Senyoreta and El Mascarat, it covers an area of 14 hectares very easy to get around, and populated only with small shrubs.

Therefore, the interest in the islands is multiplied both for visiting tourists and researchers, making the archipelago of the Columbretes Islands in the province of Castellón an indisputable laboratory for archaeologists, geologists and biologists from around the world.

The Columbretes islands have also been used in the past for military exercises by the Spanish and American armies. Maneuvers which fortunately stopped in 1982, and shortly after this the islands were declared as a nature reserve.

If you are staying in our Hotel Servigroup Romana Alcoceber, you have traditional boat trips available to book which can be booked individually or in groups, but always with a maximum of 12 people. And if you are staying in the Hotel Servigroup Papa Luna, you have a similar option available from Benicarló.

On the other hand, the archipelago of the Columbretes Islands is often visited by divers. Boat trips from Alcocéber to the Columbretes Islands are also available for lovers of diving and underwater activities.These trips depart from the sports Marina de las Fuentes in Alcossebre, where several organised dives are arranged once you reach the archipelago. Divers must possess a valid diving license, and insurance. It`s necessary the logbook with a minimum of 25 dives, the last made in the last year.

Ultimately, why not discover the Columbretes Islands, with its wide variety of birds that enrich the ecological value and a landmark destination for scuba divers from all over the world, a place to enjoy spectacular sunsets and sunrises, a paradise in the heart of the Mediterranean.

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