Made up of 7 craggy islands and a few islets, the Medes Islands archipelago is one of the most beautiful marine reserves in 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.
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, that 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).
Landing on the islands, classified as a strict nature preserve, is not permitted. You will enter the water directly from your boat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Narrow rocky cove with fish and nudibranchs
Free shore access
Sandy beach edged by shallow rocky beds with fish and sea stars
Secluded rocky cove with a decent diversity of fish
Sheltered bay with rocky and grassy seabed
Rocky cove with many fish
Rocky cove with many fish, sponges and sea stars
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