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Scuba Diving in El Hierro

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El Hierro, hidden scuba diving gem of Spain

Multiple shades of vivid blues surround the island “El Hierro,” which means iron in Spanish, attracting all sorts of aquatic life and scuba lovers. Hierro Island forms part of the Canary Archipelago off the North West coast of Africa and is a hidden diving wonder waiting to be discovered. It is the least populated island and more than half of the island is a protected wildlife reserve. Politics have focused on sustainable development which ensures that the flourishing surroundings waters withstand the presence of man. El Hierro is a small stick of dynamite, offering incredible cliffs as high as 1200 meters and a warped lava molded countryside with stark contrasts of green valleys.

This unique island was once known as the end of the World, or at least in Roman times, being that it exists on the most western perimeter of the island chain. Expect to find a little bit of everything in Hierro except for nice long sandy beaches. Like the rest of the chain, Isla Hierro exists as the result of volcanic activity. The Canary Islands formed about 65 million years ago when a large mantle plume became active, allowing for the islands to form overtime. This is not hard to deduce since the island is full of vast lava fields, fertile valleys, wind-warped thousand year old trees, rocky cliffs and thought to be extinguished reptiles.

You have to go the extra mile in order to enjoy this Scuba diver´s haven. The waters at Hierro island are fairly warm throughout the year. In order to visit el Hierro, you can fly to Tenerife or Gran Canaria, switch flights at the airport or take a 15 minute bust to the ferry station of Los Cristianos from Tenerife-S airport and take the ship to La Estaca port in the Northern part of el Hierro. Plentiful hostels and lodging exist on the island and the multitude of dive centers provide ample Scuba diving equipment for rent. Here´s a short lost of the available dive centers with contact information:

  • El Hierro S.L. Phone: +34 922 557 023
  • El Meridiano Phone: +34 922 557 076
  • Arrecifal Phone: +34 922 557 171
  • El Submarino Phone: +34 922 557 075
  • Fan Diving Phone: +34 922 557 085
  • El Tamboril Phone: +34 922 557 184
  • Buceo La Restinga Phone: +34 922 557 167
  • Taxidivers Phone: +34 922 557 142

The inhospitable rocky island terrain has kept the number of inhabitants to a mere ten thousand but this should be considered a benefit if anything since the island is in a pristine state; the waters and forests on Hierro have been maintained in tip top condition, so much so that UNESCO designated it a Biosphere Reserve, ensuring the protection and safe enjoyment of the island’s natural resources.

El Hierro might not sound that impressive since it is essentially a rock of an island that has a small population but the well preserved natural resources transform Hierro Island into a diver’s dream. Don’t let the small population fool you; the island is home to twelve different dive centers so you won’t have any trouble finding any place to dive.

The small island is still fairly underdeveloped so don´t expect throngs of tourists here. Enjoy it while you can is all I can say because the rest of the islands already present themselves as major tourist destinations. El Hierro is the youngest volcanic island in the chain so the rock formations are very well preserved and are pulsating with life. Underwater rock formations are known to attract all sorts of marine life. The island is located smack dab in the middle of the Gulf current which constantly blows from north to south, transporting plentiful amounts of underwater life. The winds are both a blessing and a curse since the water is usually freezing cold, but Hierro Island is the furthest west and has the warmest waters in the Canaries.

Photo by Philippe Guillaume - Scuba Diving in El Hierro

The island makes up for the lack of sandy beaches by offering incredible underwater scenery. The coast is riddled with steep cliffs, reefs and pillow lava, providing perfect homes for trumpet fish, spiny globefish, black coral, sea bream as well as many other types of sea life. The continental shelf is practically nonexistent near the island which allows for fish to thrive in the surrounding great depths.

Most of these beautiful sites are located in the marine reserve Mar de las Calmas, which translates into calm seas, since its waters are constantly calm, offering great visibility to scuba divers and snorkelers. Commercial fishing is not permitted in these protected waters so large specimens of grouper and jacks are commonly spotted near the island. What many people don´t know about the reserve is that a WWII sunken submarine sank near by, but it rests at such deep depths that we cannot enjoy it.

El Hierro underwater life

The island has an intriguing past and a bright future ahead of it. Hierro Island could become completely energy self-sufficient by using the constant steady Trade wind breeze to harvest wind energy. It’s great to see the nation turn to alternative energies but the idea of a huge wind farm surrounding the island makes it less appealing for me, as I diver anyways (the wind farms could destroy ecosystems, cause large amounts of turbidity, affect marine wildlife, close dive sites, etc.)

The Canary Islands is also known as the Happy Islands and this come as no surprise should you grace the rocky coasts of el Hierro. She offers an array of diving activities in a unique environment making the island a perfect destination for an unforgettable scuba diving holiday.

This article was contributed by one of our friends , Michael Dawson from Diving Discoveries . Several photos have been used from collection of Philippe Guillaume

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  • Arames said:

    Thanks Michael for article , me and my wife planning to visit El Hierro this august , can you suggest us which dive site and dive center is better to use . Thanks

  • Michael said:

    It truly depends on where you plan to stay. The closest one to La Estaca is Hierro Sub (+ 34) 922 550 482. However, if you are staying in La Restinga, any of the above mentioned locations will work for you.
    It´s going to be very hot in August, perfect weather for Scuba diving!

  • Arames said:

    Thanks for help Michael , it’s appreciated very much.

  • Joanna said:

    We ( with my husband) also will visit El Hierro end of August .We would like to stay at La Restinga. How to find accomodation to have nice, calm sutio (perfectly with sea view)?And , of course, at resonable price…


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