Enjoy the bay
Altea’s sea offers an incomparable setting for the practice of wáter sports, both on its surface and sea beds. Protected by the Serra Gelada Natural Park, it provides various snorkeling and diving routes.
Our shallow sea beds are easily discovered, and although they aren’t usually paid much attention, they offer a great colourful sea full of numerous harmless fish species which roam our waters. With just a diving mask, fins and snorkel tube, you can witness the colourful spectacle of life and experience the feel of our waters. You don’t have to be an athelete or be exceptionally fit, and there is no real age limit. You don’t even have to be a good swimmer, a swim vest can help you float tirelessly on the surface and make safe water excursions. A sunscreen lotion is a must, as time flies by when absorbed in such beautiful surroundings, and permits a longer visit to enjoy the contemplation of our exceptional sea beds, our precious natural heritage, hidden from the eyes of most of our most visitors.
La OllaWe can puto n our light equipment of mask, tuve, flippers and suncream or wetsuit –according to the season- on the beach opposite the small island in front of the Villa Gadea Hotel. This south –east facing beach usually boasts calm, clear waters with good visibility.
The seabed begins with a very shallow rocky platform, with rock formations that may hide small octopuses and curious gudgeons and bienios that seem to expectantly peep out from the rocks.
As we swim along, seaweed banks with Caulerpa prolífera and Padina pavonica begin to appear, and later on, as the seabed gets softer, areas carpeted with Cymodocea nodosa come into view.
As the seabed gradually deepens to -2 to -3 metres, we will occasionally come across small pools up to -5 metres depth. Dense, green meadows of Posidonia oceanic begin to appear, providing an ideal refuge to a great many species and a nursery for fry and young fish. This dense meadow may hide specimens of a protected species, the Pinna nobilis mollusk, which is becoming quite scarce on our coasts.
The recommended route consists in following the platform, and at about 150 metres from the coast, there are some rocky ledge drops over -3 to -6 metres deep, where fish like the white bream hide to get some peace and quiet.
However, if we consider swimming to the small island, it is at quite a distance, at approximately 400 metres from the coast. A long distance that can cause exhaustion and the presence of unexpected currents should also be taken into account. Is is probably not worthwhile, as visits to the island are not permitted.
A good option is to thoroughly explore the rocky platform and swim back to our starting point, and discover in these welcoming seabeds a great example of Mediterranean marine wildlife in an optimum state of conservation.
The north point of the well known Cap Negret beach ends with a rocky point which gives Access to the small Cala del Soio bay. The seabed between these two points is of great interest, ideal for a relaxing snorkeling trip.
Our proposed route begins at a pebbled beach at the south side of the cape, where we can prepare our snorkeling equipment. We swim round the rocky cape, called Negret due to the characteristic black tone of its large rocks. On the way we see medium sized rocks dotting the carpeted sandbeds with brown seaweed such as Caulerpa prolifera and Dilophus fasciola. The landscape gradually turns into a colourful seabed which contrasts with larger rocks, as we swim away from the cape into deeper waters.
Here at 3 o 4 metres deep, the rocks shelter shoals of feeding rainbow wrasse in perpetual motion, and provide cosy homes for more discreet species like the octopus, the great master of camouflage, which can be discovered by the barricades which blok its den, built with a collection of pebbles, shells, etc.
As we swim out into the open, a dense Poisidonia meadow comes into view. This meadow supplies these waters with a continuous source of oxygen, for as we know, the Posidonia oceanic is not a seaweed but a plant which provides far more oxygen than its forest terrestrial counterpart.
Skirting the cape, we swim along a platform which serves as a breakwater, towards the Cala del Soio. As the seabed gets deeper, it becomes lighter and easier to observe shoals of young fish, even small barracudas and garfish.
Once we have finished our route, we can swim back to our starting point by closely following the coastline.
In order to get to this quiet bay, take the road to the Luis Campomanes Marina, pass the port and keep straight on to a fork in the road, continue straight on, and with the hill to our left, we drive directly into the Mascarat bay.
This small, south facing pebbled beach is protected by a breakwater on the right and a rocky seawall on the left. The route begins here with a great presence of posidonia sea grass. However, as we swim to the right, away from the wall, a sandbank opens out and the fine leaves of the Cymodocea nodosa immediately appear. This plant is a marine phanerogam like the Posidonia oceanic, that is to say, a herbaceous plant with stems, roots, leaves and flowers.
A luminous sandbank opens between these two meadows, and if we look carefully, we might spot an Eckstroms topknot or a small cuttlefish. If we continue swimming along the wall the seabed gradually becomes covered in large posidonia plants which shelter innumerable species such as damsel fish, saupes and fives potted wrasse, the landscape immeadiately changing again as some large stone blocks come into view, which permit elusive species such as the octopus, the three-tailed orange Anthias antias, and the white bream take refuge in thousands of small cavities between them.
The seabed drops to over 8 metres when we come to the end of the seawall, making it advisable to swim back by the same route, but this time over and closer to the rocky platform profusely covered with seaweeds such as Padina pavonica and Cystoseira compressa.
In this way, we can enjoy this beautiful snorlelling route with totally transparent waters and fertile seabeds, which wll represent the Mediterranean coast wildlife.
La Solsida is a quiet bay near the Porto Senso marina. A peaceful place of serene beauty, its calm waters are usually protected from the north winds.
A great place to enjoy with the family, it boasts an easy snorkeling route, as its shallow seabed usually provides good visibility.
The route begins with a sandy seabed, which becomes gradually covered in Cymodocea nodosa and often combining with seaweeds Padina pavonica and Caulerpa prolifera. This route, under two metres deep, is easily followed as we can find species common to soft seabeds an seaweed meadows like the elusive and practically invisible sand sole, as well as another expert in camouflage, the cuttlefish.
Small fish and crustaceans seek refuge among the seaweed and grasslands, where the five-spotted wrasse, cuskeels and rainbow-wrasse are specially abundant. We can amuse ourselves here for quite a while, although we can also swim to a small island at about 200 metres from the coast. This island offers us a dense belt of posidonia where saupe shoals constantly graze, and further on, its peculiar solid biotope seabed and terraced slopes reflect pretty long window-like sunlit reflections, which seem to be carved on the submerged rock.
Her it is easy to find other types of fish an mollusks like the painted comber and the octopus, and once we have finished swimming around the island, we can take a slow swim back to our starting point to continue enjoying this fabulous enclave.