The Medes Islands
Situated scarcely a mile from the beach of the popular resort town of L'Estartit, on the Costa Brava, the protected Medes Islands have been dubbed 'heaven for divers'. It may not look like much above water, but the craggy little archipelago of seven islets and a few reefs form one of the most important and rich marine reserves in the Mediterranean. Meda Gran, the largest of the islands, is the only one of considerable size, and there is a 10th-century lighthouse on it. In the 15th century a fortress was built on Meda Gran, but it was destroyed in 1811. Most of the islands are just rocky outcrops jutting out of the sea, with little vegetation. However, the magic happens underwater: millions of fish and thousands of animal and plant species inhabit the shallows, crevices and submarine caves at the base of the island cliffs, and are a delight to behold for divers of all levels of experience, whether splashing with a snorkel or descending to the depths in scuba gear. Visitors can take glass-bottomed boat trips around the islands, departing hourly in season from L'Estartit, or arrange a fully equipped diving trip through one of the numerous tourist diving centres in the resort town.