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Splashing about in La Herradura, Granada Spain

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The whitewashed village of La Herradura, situated in a large horseshoe bay (which gives the village its name) in the Tropical Coast of the province of Granada, Spain, is so quintessentially Spanish I’m surprised Ernest Hemingway didn’t write a book or two about this hidden paradise. Horse riding, mountain biking and hang gliding are few of the many activities offered here, but the city is known for scuba diving due to the dozens of coves that are brimming with life in the area.

Map of HerrduraTwo large rocky points (Punta de la Mona & Cerro Gordo) mark the beginning and end of the two kilometre long bay. While the city is fairly developed, an imposed height restriction has kept the skyline nice and low so the natural features of the region can still be admired. The city also embodies the Spanish liberal mentality by featuring a naturist beach, Playa Cantarriján, where an estimated 1.5 million tourist flock in order to practice naturism. Scuba diving in the buff is not recommended.

Punta de la Mona and Cerro Gordo consistently rank at the top of the best dive sites in Spain. Punta de la Mona reaches depths up to 50 meters and the lack of light gives the surroundings a greenish hue which might affect visibility. Moonfish use the area as a cleaning station and encounters with pollock, dentex and sea bass are common sights in this area at around 35 meters. Between the green algae covered rocks exist yellow coral fields where octopus breed and nudibranch reside. This dive site is fairly deep and is known for fast currents; dress warm (hood and gloves) and make sure you can handle swift waters.

Moonfish

A Moonfish during a cleaning

On the other side of the bay, the novice-friendly dive site Cerro Gordo has large stone blocks that rest at the foot of the surrounding underwater cliffs. Here you’ll find a cave at 16 meters where conger eels flourish. Wrasse, bream and mullets frequently come here to hunt and get away from the strong currents. The entrance, nestled deep within the wall of the Cerro Gordo cliff, is hard to miss and easy to access. As you enter, you’ll need to swim for about five meters then ascend normally into the cave. Flitters of light trickle in from the hole at the top of the cave and illuminate the surroundings. Beyond the entrance lies an intricate labyrinth like cave system which is for experienced cave-divers only.

Cueva de Gordo

Entrance to Gordo Cave

Scuba divers that visit this area will almost surely bump into a local or two that will tell them about the story of “Mendoza’s Armada of 28 Galleons.” 28 Spanish galleons took shelter near the Punta de la Mona in order to get a way from a fierce storm but it changed directions at the last second, causing the ships to collide into each other and sink. So how come treasure hunters haven’t flocked to the area in order to find all of the sunken booty? The event occurred in 1562 and the galleons have practically disappeared since oak and pine don’t hold up well underwater. Organizations in the past have tried to find the sunken ships but have been unsuccessful since the remains now lay buried beneath multiple levels of bedrock and sand. It would require a large investment and the latest technology in order to recover the cargo.

If you go to La Herradura, you can admire Moonfish, get a tan nature style and even daydream about finding the cargo from Mendoza´s ships all while enjoying some of the best dive sites on the Iberian Peninsula.

Here are a few dive operators for anyone interested in visiting La Herradura:

Seriously Blue Diving Costa Tropical- +34 661 018 162

Dive Shack- +34 627 775 441

Photo Credit:

Gordo Cave- Divegranada

Moonfish- rMartinni

Article by Michael Dawson from Diving Discoveries


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