The Columbretes Islands Natural Park is located just off the coast of Castellón. The Columbretes Islands, known in antiquity as the Islas de las Serpientes (the Serpent Islands) rise defiantly out of the sea, a small archipelago of volcanic origin found halfway between the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

The Columbretes are an archipelago that is divided into four islands: La Grossa, la Ferrera, la Foradada, and el Carallot. Because it is at a distance from the mainland and experiences a harsh marine environment, the flora and fauna of the islands are rich in native species. The richness of its seabed is particularly attractive to diving enthusiasts. The Islands are Natural Park and Marine Reserve, thus guaranteeing them a significant level of protection which, until 3 decades ago, had historically been lacking. Nowadays, Illa Grossa is the only island that may be visited, and only with proper authorization.

Due to their volcanic origin, isolation (which allows various species of animals and plants to thrive), small size and harsh environmental conditions, the islands make up a unique and especially fragile ecosystem. The sea bed and waters are characterized by an extraordinary beauty and richness and high degree of conservation.
 

Flora and vegetation



The isolation and volcanic nature of the archipelago have produced a phenomenon of great importance: the appearance of new species.

Two endemic species stand out: the sweet alyssum of Columbretes (Lobularia maritima columbretensis) and the moon trefoil (Medicago citrina). The predominant plant is the shrubby sea-blite (Suaeda vera), which mainly covers the "Illa Grossa". Other noteworthy plants are the sea carrot (Daucus gingidium), the sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum), the cambrón (Lycium intrincatum) and Withania frutescens, member of the nightshade family.

Fauna



The animal life is made up predominantly of colonies of nesting seabirds. Among them, Audouin's gull, Scopoli's shearwater, Eleonora's falcon and the European shag - species that are especially sensitive to the nuisance and impact associated with the presence of humans - are found on these islands, their only nesting point within the Community of Valencia.

During the spring and autumn migrations, the islands, anchored in the middle of the sea, act as a magnet for all the birds that cross the Mediterranean between Europe and Africa, and a very high number tend to stop there in order to rest and gather their strength before continuing their journey.
Of special interest among the fauna, is the group of arthropods, with 10 insects which are endemic to the islands. Representing the culmination of this faunistic singularity is the presence of an endemic species of lizard, with 4 differentiated populations inhabiting as many islets.

The interesting aspects of these islands do not stop at the water's edge, but are instead multiplied as we explore the depths of their sea beds. The complicated topography of these sea beds, replete with reefs, banks and shoals, is a natural refuge for many species which are over-exploited by fishing in our sea.

In addition to an exceptional richness of species and variety of communities living in the depths of the sea, there are singular species such as the red coral and Laminaria redriguezi algae, which is very scarce in the Mediterranean Sea.