Torrevieja Pink Lake: a salt lagoon in Spain to see flamingos but not for swimming
The surprising Torrevieja pink lake is part of the Natural Park of Lagunas de La Mata – Torrevieja, where about 750000 tons of salt are produced per year.
Located to the south of the Costa Blanca and next to the town of Torrevieja (Alicante) we find the amazing pink lake of Torrevieja (or salt lake), 1400 hectares in size, where —for those who ask— swimming is not allowed.
Besides with the green lake of La Mata (700 ha) and the surrounding lands, it composes an important natural park of 3700 hectares that supplies salt to several countries abroad. In addition, there are vineyard crops, which are later processed and sold in the nearby wineries of La Mata, which belongs to Torrevieja.
Why is torrevieja lake pink?
The color of the Torrevieja Pink Lake is due, in origin, to a small microscopic algae (Dunaliella salina) rich in carotenes, as well as to other microorganisms that develop this pink color in salt-saturated waters, which protects them from solar radiation.
In turn, a small invertebrate crustacean, called Artemia salina, feeds on these algae and, consequently, acquires its pink color, which is later reflected in some areas of the flamingos plumage, because this tiny crustacean is part of their diet.
This pink color in flamingos can be seen in the pink salt lake of Torrevieja, as well as in other wetlands of Alicante, such as the Salinas de Santa Pola or the Salinas de Calpe.
Pink lake of Torrevieja address and parking
The Torrevieja pink lake is located immediately west of the city, almost attached to it, and is part of the Natural Park of Lagunas de La Mata – Torrevieja. In addition, as already mentioned, it is used for the salt industry and, although some people swimm in the pink salt lake of Torrevieja, swimming is not allowed.
But it is possible to take a walk to carefully observe the landscape and the environment. We can reach different points near the lagoon, among which we highlight the access from Sol Street (calle Sol), where you can park, as shown in the Google map below.
Tips for visiting the pink lake
The climate of the Mediterranean coast in this part of Spain, south of the Costa Blanca, allows us to visit the amazing Torrevieja pink lake almost any day of the year, even in winter. And, as in any natural area, it is necessary to follow a series of good practices to keep the environment clean:
- Do not forget a backpack with some food, water, camera and sunscreen. Make the most of the day, do not settle for just seeing the pink salt lake, and visit the rest of the natural park, starting at the Interpretation Center (Centro de Interpretación), to also know the green lake of La Mata, the surroundings and, if possible, the city of Torrevieja, where we can visit some interesting spots.
- Domestic animals, such as dogs, should always be on a leash, in order not to disturb the native fauna or other visitors.
- Groups of more than 15 people must communicate, in advance, their intention to visit the natural park, making a phone call to the Interpretation Center (965 721 650).
- Swimming is not allowed and you should not walk along the shore of the lagoons, as they are very fragile areas where birds and plants reproduce.
- Do not release exotic or domestic animals in the natural park, as they can cause serious alterations in the ecosystem.
- Motor vehicles are totally prohibited inside the natural park. Use the marked trails for walking or cycling.
The salt industry in Torrevieja
The Torrevieja pink lake and the green lagoon of La Mata have been used, for centuries, for the production of salt. After the Christian Conquest, in the 13th century, the city of Torrevieja had not yet been founded –it did not exist– and the salt flats were known as Salinas Mayores, whose property was intermittently owned by the Crown and the Council of Orihuela.
Likewise, on at least two occasions an attempt was made to create a fish pond, although without success. At first, the salt was exported from the small jetty located in front of the Torre de La Mata.
In the 19th century it was decided to build a new pier in front of the Old Tower (Torre Vieja), which would be the origin of the current port and city of Torrevieja. The city had suffered the effects of a fatal earthquake in 1829, which toppled the Old Tower, whose ashlars can now be seen at the base of the main facade of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in the Plaza de la Constitución.
At present, and since 1973, surprising as it may seem, the salt produced in the Salinas de Torrevieja comes from the Cabezo de la Sal de Pinoso (Alicante).
Between 1970 and 1972, a 50-kilometer pipeline was built to transport brine to Torrevieja, because the concentration of salt in Pinoso (300 grams per liter) is greater than that of seawater (30 g/l), thus increasing the production of salt.
Links of interest:
14 interesting places to see in Torrevieja.