Snorkelling in Cartagena and its surrounding coastline is some of the best on the Costa Calida. With hundreds of rocky coves, beautiful natural parks reaching down to the sea and pristine marine reserves, exploring the underwater world is a pleasure. Snorkelling is also great fun for the whole family and, depending on how professional your gear is, won't set you back a lot of money. With its extremely busy port, you will need to get away from the city centre but it's well worth the journey. Cala Cortina lies just outside the city port and is perfect for snorkelling.

Source: Flickr / Carsten ten Brink

Snorkelling Equipment

The cost of equipment can run from 5€ to 500€ depending on how serious you are. At the top of the spectrum, equipment for professional free diving or spear fishing doesn't come cheap. This type of gear however, is not at all necessary to enjoy snorkelling coves and reefs. A basic snorkel and mask for kids won't cost more than a few euros at a ‘Chino' store. This price will go up if you buy a set from a beachfront souvenir shop. The popular French sporting goods chain Decathlon have many branches in Spain. Here you can pick up a decent adult snorkel set for around 20€.

Snorkelling Safety

It's possible to snorkel practically anywhere there isn't much boat traffic. Popular coastal towns and resorts however will always put out buoys during the summer months. This demarks the boundary for bathers and boat traffic. When snorkelling away from popular beach areas where there are no buoys, it's advisable to use a bright coloured floating beacon. These are lightweight and attach to the wrist or ankle with a cord, and are often seen being used for spearfishing. Also keep an eye out for riptides, and if caught in one swim left or right, not back towards the beach. Riptides are usually not very wide, so by swimming left or right you will soon be out of the pull.

Where To Snorkel

The popular beach, Cala Cortina lies between the city port and outer port just off the N-343. This is not only great for swimming and sunbathing, but also an excellent spot for snorkelling. There is a popular shore scuba diving route around the rocky coves and reef. It's possible to snorkel the route too, but not advisable when there's a group of scuba divers in the water. On the other side of the bay around Punta del Aire and Punta de Santa Ana are many more rocky coves to enjoy snorkelling. A bit further afield, the resort area of Isla Plana and its small island are thrilling to snorkel. Then you have the pristine waters of Cabo de Palos Marine Reserve in nearby La Manga.

Snorkel Safari

For a fantastic family day out, try a snorkel safari. You won't be seeing any lion or elephant on one of these safaris, but maybe the odd octopus or cute little seahorse. These are great fun, and with qualified diving instructors accompanying you, safe for children. Snorkel safaris are offered by most scuba diving centres and cover a variety of coastal areas, including the Cabo de Palos Marine Reserve. There are several dive centres in and around Cartagena. One that does offer a snorkel safari as well as all PADI certified scuba diving courses is Adventure Divers. Located at the fantastic La Manga Club, they provide guided tours for all ages with equipment included.