One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen is Arrecife de las Sirenas or the mermaid’s reef if you prefer! Arrecife de las Sirenas is a group of volcanic rock formations jutting out of the water in Sierra de Cabo de Gata, slightly to east of the long stretch of beach known as Playa de San Miguel (where the Iglesia de San Miguel is… gottit?). It is one of the defining features of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata the image of which is used on all the local bill-boards, posters, etc… whenever mentioning the natural park.
There are a few stories of how this area got its name one of them being quite simply that the rocks are the mermaids and when sailors saw these from a distance they were attracted to them and sailed towards them to their doom. I think really they’d have to be pretty dumb sailors to do this! Another story and possibly more likely is that the Mediterranean monk seal used to breed here and the sailors thought that the seals were mermaids (and sailed towards them to their doom). In any case, this is a stunning location and a photographers paradise and at this time of year when the light is superb, an absolute heaven.
Arrecife de las Sirenas is a protected area and you’re not supposed to snorkel there without permission and when you have permission, you are not allowed to use fins! There is a very delicate eco-system beneath the surface with some interesting and rare corals. It was whilst looking at these that my last underwater camera died… though I have a replacement under warranty now!!!!!!
This one of the last photographs to be taken with the camera that I returned. It shows a passage between two rock formations and you can clearly see the red & orange corals – it looks like an underwater fairy-tale grotto!
I’ve heard this rock formation called the “la chimenea” (the one at the back of the photograph) but I don’t know if this is the correct name, local people seem to like giving unofficial names to rocks🙂 The photograph above was taken on the other side of “la chimenea”. It is forbidden to climb this rock formation.
There is a slip-way which is actually still in use although the boats I see parked there look like they’ve seen better days!
I haven’t heard these rocks being called anything but there is a cave in amongst them.
Just a little further along from Arrecife de las Sirenas is the lovely beach of Cala Arena (sand cove) with its amazing columns of basalt, like a miniature Giant’s Causeway and formed by the same geological process, i.e., the rapid cooling of lava!
The short stretch of coastline between Arrecife de las Sirenas and San José run adjacent and even into the Sierra de Cabo de Gata, there are some amazing landscapes to see and photograph and then there’s the wild-life… where do I begin??!!