The Columbretes Islands nature reserve is located 27 nautical miles 50 km southeast of Oropesa in the province of Castellón. Its location is between the parallels 39º51 ‘and 39º55’ north latitude, and the meridians 0º 40 ‘and 0º 42’ East, on the edge of the wider continental shelf of the Western Mediterranean.
The Park is 5 nautical miles (9.26 km) from north to south and 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) from west to east. A total of 4400 hectares.
The Islands are: La Isla Grande, La Ferrera, La Forada and El Bergantín (Carrallot). In addition there are several rocks and low rocks, everything is of volcanic origin. Despite its small area, only about 14 hectares, the Columbretes are one of our most valuable island areas. Together with the Majorcan archipelago of Cabrera and the Catalan Medas Islands, they are one of the most exceptional enclaves from the natural and scenic point of view of the whole Mediterranean coast of Spain. Its colonies of seabirds, its numerous endemisms – both invertebrates and vertebrates -, its unique volcanic origin and the richness and beauty of its seabed makes the Columbretes Islands an exceptionally important enclave in the western Mediterranean.
The name of the islands comes from the impression of the first Greek and Latin navigators, that included them to their geographies with the name of Ophiusa or Colubraria, admired by the abundance of snakes that were there. Visited only by fishermen and pirates until the beginning of the 19th century, the colonization of the archipelago occurred in the middle of the last century with the construction of the lighthouse of the island (1856-1860). The lighthouse keepers inhabited the islands almost uninterruptedly for more than a century, in precarious conditions, as evidenced by the tombs of the small cemetery on the island, and taking full advantage of all the resources offered by a poor land environment and an extraordinarily rich seabed.
The small colony that attended the lighthouse and its families left the islands finally in 1975, when the lighthouse was made automatic. Since then the islands were uninhabited until the installation of the first surveillance services established by the Generalitat Valenciana in 1987.
The small colony that attended the lighthouse and its families left the islands finally in 1975, when the lighthouse is automated. Since then the islands were uninhabited until the installation of the first surveillance services established by the Generalitat Valenciana in 1987.
Of volcanic origin and located off the coast of Castellón, the Columbretes islands have gone from being used as firing range for the army to become one of the main maritime-terrestrial natural spaces of the western Mediterranean.
Both the seabed and the emerged part of the archipelago represent a true sanctuary of flora and fauna, with several exclusive species of animals and plants.
Map of the islands and informative dossier
(Click on the map to download)