Gran Canaria - diving in
The El Cabrón
Marine Reserve.

When I first came to Gran Canaria, I had not heard about 'The El Cabrón' Marine Reserve, or the town of Arinaga. I had dived in many parts of the world, including Fuertaventura and mainland Spain, and was a bit unsure what was so special about the 'El Cabrón'. However it only took two dives to convince me that this was a very special area, with a class of diving that I had not come across before in Europe. After diving the 'Hole on the Wall' for the first time I started negotiating and ended up buying the dive centre! On that one dive I had swam through the chimney, through the arch, and come up to the shoal of roncadors, and then wall dived back.. There was so much life, of different species that it amazed me.

Diving in Gran Canaria shoal of roncadors

I have lived here and been scuba diving here ever since 2002, and have probably made more than 5,500 dives here, showing divers the highlights such as angel sharks, rays, seahorses; training people to dive; or enjoying myself photographing the huge diversity of marine life here.

dive gran canaria with stingray

There are four features that make this the 'go-to' hotspot area for divers looking for the best scuba dives in Gran Canaria;

Marine Life in the El Cabrón

Marine area protegido de Arinaga, Gran canaria

With species which originate from the Mediterranean, from the Atlantic, from Africa and from the Caribbean, it is believed that in excess of four hundred varieties of marine flora and fauna can be seen in the reserve - although it may take you several dives to explore and find them all! One of the keys to this rich diversity is the large area of sea-grass which forms a huge nursery in Spring for many species, and because there are plenty of distinct habitat types, from the sand areas favoured by Angel Sharks, through rocky crevices that moray eels love to hide in, to the algae and sea-grass of the inter-tidal zone.

explore best wreck diving Gran Canaria

The area has an incredible array of marine life, you can tick off almost all the species in the main marine life guides, including many of the species that are only found in the Canaries, and several species that are on the IUCN Red List of endangered Species. You can find out more about some of these on our endangered species page.

You can dive with the angelsharks in winter and spring, but we see less in summer and autumn
The shoal of grunts can make a dive unforgettable in Gran Canaria
diving with wrasse and damselfish in Gran Canaria
The smaller fish such as wrasse and damselfish add colour to the reef and make your dive in Gran Canaria remarkable

The Volcanic underwater landscape

The Cabrón area is overlooked by the Montana de Arinaga - a defunct volcano and itself a National Monument. The landscape in the north was heavily worked for the extraction of lime in the 1950's and has never been regenerated, giving it the feel of a lunar landscape. However when you get underwater this rich topography has been replicated, and there are arches to swim through,short caves you can explore, and cliffs you can float along looking out for nudibranch, morays or giant anemones. The majority of the central area is also at a perfect depth for recreational diving, an around 18m to 21m deep, giving multi-level dive times of around 40 minutes without complex dive planning or the need for decompression stops.

Explore caves and arches in the El Cabron Marine Reserve
Explore caves and arches in the Canary Islands

One of my favourite areas is around 'Punta de la Monja', where there is something for everyone.. There are small caves to explore, or if you do not want to enter, there are broad overhangs which still shelter glass-eyes and trumpetfish, seahorses have been seen in this area, and the sand has angel sharks, rays, stargazers and striped mullet. Underwater the clarity of the water combined with warm gulf stream temperatures and abundant and varied fish life make this the 'must dive' location for holiday visitors and local divers alike in the Canaries. Water temperatures average 21ºC for most of the year so you can dive here with a wetsuit. We can organise your exploration of the reserve almost every day, and also through night dives and deep dives can show you many of the secrets and highlights of this spectacular divers paradise.

The El Cabrón Marine Reserve was listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by the European Union in December 2001 and is one of only three Marine Reserves in the Canary Islands. You can find out more about angel sharks in the reserve by reading the results of the 2007 survey

The map below shows the location of the Marine Reserve just outside Arinaga on the east coast of Gran Canaria. Click on any of the tabs to find out more information about the reserve.

Gran Canaria Marine Reserve Map
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