Illes Medes Integral Nature Reserve

Nature reserve, Marine reserve
The archipelago of the Illes Medes, situated one kilometre from the L’Estartit coast, is the only marine reserve in the country and extends over 21.5 land hectares and 511 marine hectares, making it an area of outstanding value and unique in the Mediterranean.

The archipelago of the Medes islands, situated approximately one kilometre from the L'Estartit coast, is the only marine reserve in the country and extends over 21.5 land hectares and 511 marine hectares. The dry land comprises seven islets: Meda Gran, Meda Xica, Carall Bernat, Tascons Grossos, Tascons Petits, Medellot and Ferrenelles. They are all the final spurs of the Montgrí Massif as it dives to the bottom of the sea.

And it is this very sea floor that confers the Medes their outstanding value and makes them a unique place in the Mediterranean, highly appreciated by divers the world over. Some of the highlights that can be found on this seabed are the populations of seaweed, the Posidonia meadows, coral reefs, many species of fish, crab, starfish, etc.

Historically the Medes have been a site that has always enchanted humans, drawing them towards the land from the sea as the numerous shipwrecks found in waters surrounding them bear tragic witness to. In fact, sunken Greek ships have also been found, whilst on the islands remains have been located that have lain hidden for centuries but which indicate that they may have been used as a necropolis.

In the 15th century, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre began to construct a fortification on Meda Gran that was abandoned several decades later. The opportunity was seized by many pirates at that time, who used the islands as a base to launch raids along the coast. In the 18th century, the remains of the building were used as a prison, and accommodated a military garrison until 1890.

Since its last inhabitants abandoned it in 1934, the archipelago has been uninhabited and since 1983 it has received special environmental protection by the Regional Government of Catalonia. This initiative has contributed enormously in helping to restore the wealth of its valuable sea bed.

There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy all the underwater wonders of the Illes Medes, with scuba diving and boat trips with transparent bottoms. Scuba diving is regulated, but can be done from your own boat or through one of the authorised and licensed centres, who have also developed marine itineraries with commentary, where you can do more gentle dives (flippers, snorkel and goggles) or the scuba diving itinerary (in groups, with a theory session beforehand).

  • Year of declaration: 1983
  • Regulations: 

    Law 19/1990, of 10 December, on the conservation of sea-bed flora and fauna in the Illes Medes (DOGC-Catalan Government Official Bulletin- 1381, 17-12-90); Order 25 November 1983 (DARP-Catalan Department of Agriculture, Stock breeding and Fishing), prohibition of fishing and extraction of living marine resources within 75 metres of the Illes Medes. (DOGC 391, 21-12-83).

  • Area: 532
  • Ownership: Public
  • District: Torroella de Montgrí-Estartit.
  • Visitor centres: N
  • Annual closing: Open all year round.
  • How to get there: By boat froml'Estartit, l'Escala and Roses.
  • Languages: Catalan, Spanish




The marine plant life of the Medes Islands is of great ecological value thanks to its excellent state of conservation. Algae, such as Lithophyllum tortuosum and Cystoseira, and marine seed plants like Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa stand out. On land, the predominant vegetation is that which has adapted to windy and salty conditions, and to the abundance of organic material from the faeces of the large number of birds here. We can highlight nitrophilous grasses, tree mallow and coastal maquis made up of wild olive trees.


There is an enormous diversity of marine wildlife. We can highlight fish species subject to fishing restrictions in the area, allowing them to breed (the grouper, sea bream, sea bass, common dentex, zebra sea bream and brown meagre), coral communities (red gorgonians, red coral), molluscs (noble pen shell, date mussel) and even cetaceans like the common bottlenose dolphin. Outside of the water, birds dominate the landscape, the yellow-legged gull being the most widespread species. We can also point out the cattle egret, the little egret and the black-crowned night heron, as well as half of the Catalan population of the European shag.


Get to know the immensely rich underwater world with the ‘Salpatxot’, the ‘Medellot’, ‘Pedra de Deu’, ‘Pota de Llop’, ‘Vaca’, ‘Dofí Nord’, ‘Dofí Sud’, ‘Cavall Bernat/Tascons’ and ‘Las Ferronelles’.

Bird-watching tourism

Illes Medes Integral Nature Reserve
  • Illes Medes Integral Nature Reserve

  • Address:Walk Port, s/n (Espigó de Llevant)

  • 17258 Torroella de Montgrí

  • Girona / Costa Brava

  • Illes Medes Integral Nature Reserve
  • Illes Medes Integral Nature Reserve

  • Address: Walk Port, s/n (Espigó de Llevant)

  • 17258 Torroella de Montgrí

  • Girona / Costa Brava

  • Telephone:972 751 701

  • Fax:972 752 004


  • Web:

You might also be interested in
Grand Tour de Catalunya
Grand Tour de Catalunya