Marismas de Isla Cristina Natural Area
The marshland nature reserve of the Marismas de Isla Cristina is situated between the northern edge of Isla Cristina village and the Carreras estuary to the east and Ayamonte and the Guadiana estuary to the west. Within its 2.1 sq km is a variety of habitats and an impressive range of birds.
The dunes and beaches have been somewhat spoilt by increasing tourist development at Isla Canela and the neighbouring Playa del Moral. Due to the large amount of visitors to these areas and Isla Cristina during the summer months, the dunes and beaches are best visited outside of this time, but the marismas are uncrowded all year round.
The dunes, estuary and beaches at Isla Canela and Playa del Moral can be accessed from the coast road south of Ayamonte. East of Isla Canela is a stone tower, the Torre de Canela, which has fine views over the marshlands.
From the beach at Playa del Moral are good views across the estuary. North of Playa del Moral is a track that leads to a causeway to the marshlands, where you can view abandoned salt pans.
You can see the eastern part of the marismas from the H-412 road that crosses a creek and runs north of Isla Cristina towards Pozo del Camino and the A-49 motorway.
Flora and Fauna
The nature reserve is made up of salt marshes, creeks and disused salt pans. Around the shores of the marshes, which are colonized by glasswort, are sand dunes, covered by pine and juniper trees.
The marismas are full of a good variety of waders, terns and gulls all year round, although winter is the best time to see them. There are big flocks of spoonbills and Kentish plovers. Storks, spoonbills, flamingoes, black-winged stilts and marsh harriers are among the birds that can also be spotted. Breeding birds include Montagu's harriers, bee-eaters and hoopoes.
The beach at Playa del Moral is the best place to see gulls and terns near the beach, as well as seabirds out to sea.
Two kilometres north of Isla Cristina is a marked footpath and cycleway. This is the Sendero de Molino Mareal de Pozo del Camino, a so-called vía verde (green route), which follows the route of a disused railway line from Pozo del Camino to Ayamonte.