MAJESTY, COLOUR, WONDER. They´re just some of the words used to describe the beautiful salt lakes of Torrevieja by those who have been lucky enough to visit them. They are a natural jewel in the city´s crown.
Less than 3 hours flight time from home, the Spanish salt lakes and the wildlife that inhabit them are absolutely stunning. And locals know an even better secret: the Torrevieja salt lakes possess all the therapeutic qualities of a natural spa.
It is purported that just living within the vicinity can have positive benefits for your health and wellbeing. The vivid bubblegum pink colour of the water in the salt lake has been attributed to a rare type of micro-algae that thrives in exceptionally salty conditions.
The rare halophile algae produce a pink dye to help improve sunlight absorption under the surface of the water.
The vibrant hue of the pink lake is permanent and does not change when the water is poured into a container, and the algae is known for its high concentration of healthy antioxidants and cancer-beating carotenoids, the same naturally occurring pigment that gives salmon its strong and noticeable pink colour.
Torrevieja salt lake tours: discover the pink lake
Salinas de Torrevieja is home to 2,000 flamingos during migratory seasons, and the town hall ensures that this wild habitat remains protected during critical periods to ensure that the magnificent wading birds can enjoy their fleeting season in the sun in complete safety.
The pink salt lake has been commercially farmed for its salt for more than 200 years, and it´s a renewable commodity as the Mediterranean Sea water is constantly replenished.
Salt and the city of Torrevieja have always enjoyed a close association, and salt production continues today. The lakes produce more than 600,000 metric tons of salt each year, with the product being shipped to countries throughout Europe.
And Torrevieja´s historic salt lake tours detail the history of that connection, with the fascinating attraction running throughout the summer.
The tours set out to educate attendees, highlighting the many uses for salt in the modern world, from pharmaceutical use to generating renewable solar energy.
The tour guide points out the indigenous flora and fauna in the region and explains the reason for the bubblegum-pink water colour.
The lakes are home to an ancient saltwater brine shrimp that positively thrives in rich saline conditions, and also happens to give the lake its salmon-like colour.
Marvel at the flamingos in a naturally beautiful environment
The tour encompasses 3,700 hectares of exotic and unique Mediterranean nature, with a chance to scale one of the salt mountains, many of which reach the size of an office block seven storeys high.
Observe the many rare species of birds that inhabit the lakes, and take in the amazing natural panoramic views.
The flamingos are a popular sight, and the recent global pandemic combined with successive wet winters has been beneficial for these much-loved birds.
The additional freshwater has contributed to a lowered level of salinity creating perfect conditions for a reproductive explosion in the brine shrimp that populate the waters.
This lead to record numbers of migrating African greater flamingos over the spring and summertime just last year, and the favourable conditions encouraged more than 1,500 breeding pairs of flamingos.
For the first time since 1983, the birds nested in the wetlands and established nurseries, resulting in the sighting of at least 600 baby flamingos.
Torrevieja salt lakes: take the tour at almost any time of year
The tour makes plenty of stops to allow for beautiful photo and selfie opportunities.
Tours use the familiar Spanish road trains that have proven so popular with tourists, which offer shade and a pleasant way to enjoy the environmental spectacle.
The Torrevieja salt lakes are a protected and delicate wetland environment that the town hall goes to considerable measures to protect. Therefore bathing in either of the salt lakes is not permitted.
This year the tours take place from the beginning of March until the end of October. The tour schedule can be extended at the end of the year dependent on demand at the discretion of the town hall.
Tickets cost €8.95 with a one Euro discount for children under 13 years old or people over the age of 65 years, and the tours take just over an hour to complete. Trains depart from the Paseo de la Libertad in the centre of Torrevieja at Waldo Calero square from Tuesday to Sunday at 10:00, 11:15, 12:30, 16:00, 17:30, and 19:00, throughout the month of October.
Editorial note: This page was first published on 8th September 2020 and updated on Wednesday 13th October 2021 with information for the current season.