Take the whole family to the beautiful oasis of warm sunshine, stunning nature and exotic dive locations that is the Medes Islands, tucked away in the north-west Mediterranean. A visit to the Medes Islands are ideal for all ages and all types of holidaymaker at this year-round destination. It sits just off Spain's Costa Brava and is a secret hideaway waiting to be discovered.
LocationThe Medes Islands archipelago is made up of seven islets and forms part of the Montgri, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Nature Park. You can take a boat trip from Spain's l'Estartit and travel a nautical mile via speedboat or glass-bottomed boat to reach this haven of natural beauty, flora and fauna.
What to see and doA visit to the Medes Islands are all about exploring the Mediterranean's most important nature reserves, which have been protected for over 20 years. This in turn has led to the recovery of endangered marine life, seabed and the islands themselves. They have also developed as a popular scuba diving destination. Splash around in the shallows with a snorkel, or dive a little deeper with scuba diving lessons. If you fancy keeping dry then visit the 10th century lighthouse or explore the islands' waters via glass-bottomed boat or submarine. Take a trip along the exquisite Montgri Coast. Don't expect too many speedboats or jet skis whizzing around though. The range of water-based activities in the Medes Islands must comply with the regulations that have allowed the preservation of this natural sanctuary. There's some history dotted around these islands, too. Once a victim of pirate attacks, the islands were home to ancient fortress military garrisons.
DivingThe Medes Islands are a mecca for diving enthusiasts who travel from all over the world to sample Spain's most impressive marine and nature reserve. You will be greeted by octopus, eels, scorpion fish, barracuda, eagle rays and even dolphins. The Medes Islands ecosystem is highly regarded and is one of the best natural reserves in the western Mediterranean. It's suitable for all levels of diving from beginners to advanced divers. Witness plenty of marine life including octopus, lobster and star fish among the kelp. Head deeper into the waters and uncover a treasure trove of brightly coloured mini forests adorned with coral and inhabited by 6000 species of fauna. Caves and tunnels are home to groupers. These underwater caverns weave under the Medes Islands and are ideal for professional and advanced divers, while the Reggio Messina shipwreck dating back to 1991 is a must-see if you have your wreck diving licence.
FloraWith long, hot summers and low rainfall typical of the Mediterranean, exotic prickly pear plants and restharrow thrive in the arid conditions, and survive thanks to their water reserves. Winds drop sea water to the islands, allowing salt-resistant plants and flowers such as the beautiful rock sapphire to flourish. Other exotic species have been introduced, including the tree of heaven, and agaves.
WildlifeThe Medes Islands are home of the Mediterranean's largest colony of yellow-legged gulls, in addition to egrets and herons enjoying their natural habitat. The whole family will relish in spotting the stunning sight and sounds of some spectacular birds including swifts, peregrine falcons and blue rock thrushes. Head to the rock pools and you might even see European shag, while the whole island is home to a plethora of unique insects.