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Made up of 7 craggy islands and a few islets, the Medes Islands archipelago is one of the most beautiful marine reserves in the western Mediterranean. Protected for over 30 years, it is home to exceptional underwater flora and fauna, which can be discovered by snorkeling tours from L’Estartit. Underwater, you will swim in the middle of hundreds of fish, including common dentex, gilt-head sea bream, sargo, and sometimes small dusky groupers.

Mediterranean fish in Medes Islands
Medes Islands boast fishy waters, where dozens of species can easily be spotted (here, from left to right: salema, painted comber and brown wrasse).

How to go snorkeling at the Medes Islands

The Medes Islands are just a nautical mile offshore of L’Estartit, in northern Catalonia. The easiest option for snorkeling around the islands is to take a boat trip from L’Estartit, which you can book from one of the many diving clubs in town.

Allow around euro 30 per person for a 2 to 3 hours tour. It is also possible to rent kayaks or a boat to reach the reserve (restricted access, ask more details to the renters).

Medes Islands snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Medes Islands

Landing on the islands, classified as a strict nature preserve, is not permitted. You will enter the water directly from your boat.

Medes Islands snorkeling exploration tips

Snorkeling is possible in many areas around the islands, but most of tours will take you along the well-sheltered southwestern coast of Meda Gran (the area indicated on the map below). Depending on the sea conditions of the day, your captain may choose another area. In the water, you will have to follow your guide.

East Atlantic peacock wrasse in Medes Islands
The East Atlantic peacock wrasse is one of the most common fish around the Medes Islands.

In the area shown on the map, there are rocky bottoms, some sand tongues, and extensive Posidonia meadows. The depth is about 6ft/2m near the shore and reaches 12 to 15ft/4 to 5m under the mooring buoys.

The Medes Islands have been protected for over 30 years and are home to exceptional underwater life. The rocky areas are the kingdom of damselfish, two-banded seabreams, painted combers and brown wrasses. By taking a look under the rocky overhangs, you could also spot a dusky grouper, quite common in the reserve.

Moving away from the shore, you will discover deep Posidonia meadows (↕10-15ft/3-5m), visited by huge common dentex, gilt-head sea bream, and more rarely barracudas. Sargos, saddled seabream and salema can be seen everywhere.

Common dentex in Medes Islands
Deep Posidonia beds are visited by huge common dentex.

The proximity of the mouth of the Ter River, which contributes to the biological richness of the area, can sometimes slightly alter the underwater visibility on this spot.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

The islands are completely wild, and it is not possible to land there. You’ll find in l’Estartit a wide choice of restaurants, shops and accommodation.


MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.