Cala Cortina - The Best Dive Spot of Cartagena (Spain)

Cala Cortina - The Best Dive Spot of Cartagena (Spain)

Close to the harbor of the incredible historic city of Cartagena, at a popular weekend spot for locals, you can snorkel and dive. Cala Cortina offers easy shore diving with mesmerizing sea breams, you can look for critters and flounders in the sand and see if you can spot fish that cause hallucinations when eaten.

With a big sandy area and a maximum depth of about 10 meters / 30 ft this area is great for both snorkeling as well as dive training. Although we planned on going here for macro photography fun dives I ended up doing my TDI Advanced Nitrox Course training dives at this spot. Of course I was mainly busy with practising skills, but this spot deserves a dive destination page as well.

As soon as you arrive in the bay you will see the beauty of this place. With old ruins on almost every mountain around you, clear water and a little island in the bay it is iconic for the region. Because I was there after the summer, the beach was quite empty and the restaurants were closed - perfect for diving! The parking lot was filled with cars and vans from different dive clubs in the region all doing shore dives at Cala Cortina.


Shore diving at Cala Cortina, parking close to the beach.

Getting changed next to the car reminded me of diving at home in The Netherlands. Of course the water temperature is not so high and the sunny days are limited, but it is an ambiance I love. Everybody doing his own preparations, having his own dive plan and a good SCUBA vibe during the surface interval.

Awesome changing towel for before / after diving

Country Spain
Dive area name Mediterranean Sea, Murcia, Cartagena
Dive center SCUBA Murcia
Famous for Easy shallow diving, macro opportunities, training area
Price Shore dive with tank and weights: 40 Euro. Full set of equipment 30 Euro, dive computer 10 Euro. Discounts on multiple dives.
It includes transfer by car from La Manga / Cabo de Palos. Bring your own food and drinks.
Hotel recommendation Hotel Entremares Termas Carthaginesas

Shore diving in Cartagena


A school of Sarpa Salpa, a species of sea bream, recognizable by the yellow stripes on the length of its body. This fish can cause hallucinations when eaten!

With an easy beach entry and a sandy bottom that goes down slowly it is very relaxed to snorkel or dive at Cala Cortina. It is the opposite of diving at Islas Hormigas Marine Reserve, although - I have to admit - what you see is also the opposite. Having that said this area is big enough to make different dives without seeing the same things.

If you swim just out of the bay you can follow the rock formations of both coastlines. In between and under the rocks you can spot critters and maybe even a moray eel. On the sandy bottom we spotted some flounders and lots of fish searching for food.

If you stay in Cartagena, make sure to visit the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology too.

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Marlies Wolters
Founder of Dive O'Clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
Become a Dive Professional


SCUBA Diving at Cala Cortina, Cartagena - Spain.

Comparing dive destinations

Bottom structure Reef structure Pelagic
(big stuff in the blue)
Big reef
(bigger stuff on the reef)
(small stuff on the reef)
Flat bottom with bumps/big rocks/pinnacles Hard corals
(not moving)
Sharks Turtles Nudibranchs
No current
Slope (going down slowly) Soft corals
Rays Eels/snakes Sea horses and pipe fish Small
(you can easily swim against it)
(steep but you see the bottom)
Table-/fan-shape Trevally/Jacks/Tuna Groupers Scorpion/frog fish Medium
(you can swim against it for a little while/higher air consumption)
Drop off
(steep and you can't see the bottom)
Anemones Barracudas Lobsters/crabs Octopus/squid Strong/reef hooks
(you cannot swim against it)
(no reference)
Sponges Sardines/herrings Puffers Shrimps Pumping/washing machine/OMG/hold your regulator
* The transparent boxes are the things I have seen down below and / or are spotted on almost every dive in that area.
* The dark blue boxes are the 'things' that are unavailable - things I have not seen and/or that are uncommon in that area.
Click here for more information about comparing dive destinations.

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