Diving in La Herradura
In leisure diving there are no competitions, there are no teams competing each other and no records to beat so it cannot be considered to be a sport. It is an outdoor activity; an underwater adventure with as its main attraction observing marine fauna. Some people like to take pictures, others just want to absorb the beauty and enjoy the experience.
Detail of the tentacles of the Cerianthus membranacea
La Herradura is the perfect place for this. There are two mayor diving zones, namely La Punta de La Mona and Cerro Gordo each with 7 points of immersion, which means there is a total of 14 different points of immersion in La Herradura. The majority of fauna is concentrated around the rocks. There is live in the seabed, but a lot less than near the rocks and therefore less interesting. This diversity makes it a fantastic location for all levels ofdiving, from beginners to very experienced divers. There are shallow areas and very deep areas. This is excellent for diving courses.
What is also special about La Herradura is that you can dive 365 days a year because of its special orography with sheltered areas both when the wind is coming from the East or from the West; you can always find a place with the perfect and adequate conditions for practicing safe diving. Many people think that diving is only for the summer, but this certainly isn’t the case in La Herradura.
In terms of biological wealth, it is worth mentioning specifically the candelabra coral (Dendrophyllia ramea) in the Punta de la Mona; where it forms authentic gardens of spectacular beauty. Some of these corals can be about a meter high, and at a depth of about 40 or 50 metres they are found in abundance.
La Herradura is considered amongst the three best diving destinations in Spain, but it is also known in the international diving world because of its great variety of sea slugs (nudibranchs) which are marine snails without shells with beautiful colours. La Herradura is one of the ten best places in the world to find them. Many underwater photographers love them and for this reason it is no surprise that the village hosts various underwater photography championships this year. Last June the Andalusia submarine photography championship took place in La Herradura, and in October the village welcomes the European and the National championships of underwater video and photography.
One of the reasons why La Herradura has such a rich marine life is because the area between Andalusia and the North of Africa, known as the Alboran Sea, is slightly different from other internal Mediterranean Sea areas. Due to the dynamics of the currents and the proximity and influence of the Atlantic, the La Herradura waters are home to different habitats for a wide variety of species.
Now before you jump into the La Herradura water with your wet suit on you need to take a few things into consideration. It is obligatory to dive in pairs, so at least two people. This is important to ensure safety. Each diver, as well as enjoy the surroundings, must maintain eye contact and ensure his or her own safety and that of their diving partner. Although diving is a leisure activity you need the appropriate training and a certificate to practice it. For this reason all the diving centres in La Herradura are also diving schools and offer the three main levels of scuba dive training recognized by the international community: initiation, advanced and expert. The course consists of a series of theoretical modules, practices in confined water, like a swimming pool or shallow water) and a series of immersions in open water.
Once you obtain your official diving certificate you can dive in pairs while respecting the limitations of the depth that your degree will allow.
You can start your dive on the beach. Each year we see a large number of divers that depart from the beach. However, it is recommended, also if you are an experienced diver, to go diving with a diving school. The most important reason for this is safety. All diving schools use a boat which apart from the convenience, variety and – above all – safety offers you support, communication, oxygenation equipment aboard and the ability of evacuation in case of an emergency. They also have experienced guides that will make your dive safer and more beneficial. It is not uncommon for these diving centre boats to have found and attended to divers who were diving on their own and were in difficulty, e.g. dragged out by the strong currents. Another reason to dive with a diving centre is that by boat you can reach the more interesting diving spots, which are simply too far out to get to swimming from the beach, and protected areas that require a specific authorization to practice diving.
You also need the right equipment: diving suit (there are three types, depending on the required thermal protection), regulator, buoyancy compensator, light equipment, a tank and weights. The diving schools and centers have all the necessary material for teaching and rental purposes.
The information for this article was kindly provided by Rafa Camacho. Rafa is also a passionate underwater photographer and provides all the underwater images used on the La Herradura Cultural website. He is also one of the main active members of the Amigos del Mar association which organizes the annual Sea Festival and together with business partner Salva he runs the Buceonatura diving school in la Herradura.