Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria: Scuba Diving ‘El Cabron’

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Today we are going to do some scuba diving at ‘El Cabron’ dive site, located in the Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria. Scuba diving is probably not the first thing you think of when considering activities to do in the Canary Islands. You might be surprised that besides the Arinaga Marine Reserve, there is more spectacular scuba diving in Gran Canaria, such as boat diving in the southwest of the island. Gran Canaria offers lots of variety whilst scuba diving this part of the Canary Islands. Ellis takes you on an underwater tour scuba diving the protected marine area ‘El Cabron’, in the Arinaga Marine Reserve on Gran Canaria.

Here is a little video about scuba diving El Cabron in the Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria. Don’t forget to subscribe to Splashpacker YouTube channel :-)

The Arinaga marine reserve & El Cabron give home to the Angel Shark Conservation Project in Gran Canaria

“After scuba diving many destinations all over the world, I’m still very excited to dive the marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria again. I think it’s Europe’s best diving,” says one of the other scuba divers as we make our way to Arinaga. The marine reserve in Arinaga, located on the east coast of Gran Canaria, is the base of the Angel Shark Conservation Project on Gran Canaria. Angel sharks are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. The scientific name for these beautiful sharks is ‘Squatina squatina’.

More than 400 marine species at El Cabron dive site and in the Arinaga Marine Reserve on Gran Canaria

We go off-road and enter a rocky path through a moon landscape to enter the access point to the El Cabron dive site in the marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria. “The jeep-safari is free of charge”, jokes the owner of Dive Academy and our dive guide today. “Fishing and boats are prohibited in the Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria, so people are often surprised by the amount of fish they see”. I also learn today that El Cabron and the marine reserve of Arinaga on Gran Canaria is home to more than 400 marine species.


A grouper and a school of fish at the scuba dive site El Cabron in the Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria
Scuba Diving the marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria

‘El Cabron’ is Spanish for… the bastard!

We walk down the rocks to the entrance point of the El Cabron dive site in the Arinaga Marine Reserve. El Cabron is Spanish for the bastard. El Cabron got this name because sometimes it can be a bit difficult to enter and exit the protected marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria. Another explanation for this name could be the huge schools of bastard grunts, which are called roncadores in Canary Spanish. The schools of grunts called after the bastard are always to be found here. Fortunately, the staff of Dive Academy (ad) is very professional. Each scuba diver is helped to enter the water of El Cabron in the Arinaga Marine Reserve safely.

So much sea life to be spotted at the Arinaga marine reserve on Gran Canaria

Once we descend we first find our way over a sandy bottom where I already spot a cuttlefish and some trumpet fish. As soon as we arrive at the reef Matt points to something and I see a giant lobster staring at us from his cave. We follow the reef and descend a bit deeper till we again come to a sandy bottom at about 18 metres depth. There’s a lot of life to be spotted here at El Cabron in the Arinaga Marine Reserve on Gran Canaria. Click here to prebook your scuba diving package in Gran Canaria (ad).

'El Cabron' in the marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria gives home to rays
The marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria gives home to many rays


An interesting fact about the torpedo ray

There are morays and crabs between the rocks, and two angel sharks are laying in the sand. A bit further down we spot an electric ray, also called torpedo ray. Did you know that the torpedo ray specie can produce real electrical impulses up to 200 volts? That’s why it’s also called the electric ray.

We also see the distinctive giant anemone at the Arina marine reserve in the Canary Islands

It’s important to keep an eye on the blue too because anything can pass by here. We continue our dive at the other side of the reef where big schools of fish are hanging around. We need our torches to enter a small cave that is home to a huge round ray. I’m surprised to see the distinctive giant anemone hiding between two stones, while we’re making our way up to our safety stop. This is a nice surprise whilst scuba diving the dive site of El Cabron and the Arinaga Marine Reserve in the Canary Islands!

Giant Anemone scuba diving the marine reserve in Arinaga, Gran Canaria
El Cabron on Gran Canaria also gives home to this Giant Anemone

Other than the Arinaga marine reserve, you can also scuba dive many wrecks on Gran Canaria

Once our ‘jeep safari’ leaves the Arinaga Marine Reserve, Matt tells us that also seahorses, and with a bit more luck even filefish and reef sharks can be seen whilst scuba diving El Cabron dive site in Gran Canaria. And not only in the marine reserve of Arinaga, there’s also great diving all around Gran Canaria. Scuba diving in the west coast of Gran Canaria is full of nice boat dive sites. Just off the coast of Puerto de Mogán you can see a submarine and two wrecks in the same dive site. There are also wrecks to be found close to Las Palmas, where you can also dive the famous Cathedral dive site.

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Other scuba dive sites than the ones in Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria

There are many more amazing dive sites from ‘Sardina del Norte’ in the north-west of Gran Canaria to ´Tufia´ close to the airport. There is also a variety of dive spots in the places named above including wrecks which has attracted a lot of marine life over the years. There’s even an artificial reef which was constructed by marine biologists of the university of Las Palmas. Click here to read my post about scuba diving in Gran Canara, and doing boat dives on the southwest coast of the island.

A sea horse whilst scuba diving in the Canary Islands
With a bit of luck you can see a sea horse whilst scuba diving at El Cabron in the Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria

Marine life of the Arinaga marine reserve and at other dive sites in Gran Canaria

Common interesting things to spot whilst scuba diving in Gran Canaria include barracudas, groupers, morays, octopus, and rays. However, everything is possible because the Atlantic Ocean is full of surprises at times. Even the whale shark was reported in the north of Gran Canaria by scientists from the University of Las Palmas. And my friends of Nautico Dive Academy (ad) also saw a mola mola (sun fish) and a hammerhead shark last year. And maybe you also like to go whale & dolphin watching on Gran Canaria in a responsible way.

The smallest museum in the world, about whales and dolphins, on Graciosa island in the Canary Islands
There are cetaceans, whales & dolphins, in the waters of the Canary Islands. This is the smallest museum in the world on Graciosa Island

You can also book your scuba diving in advance through Get Your Guide by using the search box below. I receive a small commission if you book anything through the advertisement below.

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Practical Information about the dive center that took me scuba diving in the Arinaga Marine Reserve on Gran Canaria

I went scuba diving in El Cabron in the marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria with Nautico Dive Academy Gran Canaria (link to TripAdvisor). The dive centers offers guided dives for certified scuba divers and rental equipment is available too. If you´ve never scuba dived before, you´re also at the right place! All PADI courses are available with this dive center that owns a private swimming pool which is great if you’re doing a scuba diving course.

Update 2024: A couple of years ago, Dive Academy has changed its name into Nautico Dive Academy. The management of the dive centers has renovated the complete dive center. You can read more about this scuba dive center in Arguineguín here.

Dive Academy dive center on Gran Canaria
diving centre Dive Academy in Arguineguín, Gran Canaria

More information about scuba diving El Cabron in the marine reserve of Arinaga on Gran Canaria

You can wear your wetsuit all year round whilst scuba diving in Gran Canaria. The water temperature varies from 19ºC till 23ºC, or 66.2°F till 73.4°F. The best time to spot an Angel Shark is from November till May. Dive Academy is situated in Puesta del Sol in Arguineguín. The dive center is opened from 9 AM to 5 PM every day, except on Mondays. You can also check this dive center out on TripAdvisor (ad).

Click here for an overview of all blog posts about scuba diving and traveling to Gran Canaria, with practical travel information.

Where to stay during your diving holiday to Gran Canaria?

If you´re looking for accommodation for your stay during your holiday on Gran Canaria, you can easily find an accommodation on (ad). Just click on the link and you can guarantee your stay for the same price as booking directly with your accommodation or travel agency. You can also find a suitable accommodation for your Gran Canaria holiday on TripAdvisor (ad). If you click through from one of the links provided in this article or use the search box below. I will earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting Splashpacker!


Tip for your flight deal to Gran Canaria

You can use or (ads) to find the best deal for your flight to Gran Canaria. They scan all available airlines for you! You can choose any departure airport in the UK or anywhere in the world. Pick the one most convenient for you!

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Airport transport to your hotel on Gran Canaria: shared transfer, private taxi or public bus

For a pretty affordable price, you can rent a car on the airport of Gran Canaria (ad). But you can also book private transport or a shared airport transfer (ad) to your hotel in Gran Canaria. Another option is to take the public bus from the airport on Gran Canaria. Keep in mind that you might have to wait a while, for current information about the public bus company on the island, check out the website of Global here.

Are you also considering going pro and becoming a Divemaster or scuba diving instructor?

If you´re looking into becoming a PADI Pro member, I can recommend them too. I have done my divemaster course with Dive Academy in 2006 and even though the owners have changed in the meantime, I´m pretty sure they offer the same level of quality up to today and I know the new owner of the dive school. When I did my IDC (dive instructor course) in the Dominican Republic 2 years later, I realized even more how grateful I was for doing my course with them, providing me with an excellent basis. If you´re interested in becoming a scuba dive instructor and reading my story, you can click on this link.
Or you might also like to read my recent post about why scuba diving is a very spiritual activity!!

Happy bubbles!

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A big thanks to Dive Academy Gran Canaria for providing some of the photos in this article!

This article is now featured on Scuba News!

* This article was written by me as an assignment for ‘Travel Writing’ with Australian Writers Centre in Sydney.

* Prices are subject to change

As an associate with Amazon, Get Your Guide, Booking, 12go, and with TripAdvisor, Kiwi, HolidayTaxis, DrimSim, en DiscoverCars, via TravelPayouts, I earn from qualifying purchases in this post.

The marine reserve in Arinaga on Gran Canaria gives homes to moray eels
Black Moray Eel (muraenidae) during scuba diving in Gran Canaria


7 thoughts on “Arinaga Marine Reserve in Gran Canaria: Scuba Diving ‘El Cabron’”

  1. Hi Geir,

    Thanks for your comment! Yes El Cabron will never get boring! Are you living at Gran Canaria? Happy Bubbles and all the best for the new year :-)

  2. Could not agree more, Even with hundreds of dives in El Cabron I never had a boring dive, always something out of the ordinary to be spotted :)
    Have fun all and hope to see you under water in 2018..

    Cheers, Geir

  3. And thank you for the photos, it looks much better now :-)

  4. Hi Matt and Dive Academy :-)
    Thank you for your feedback! It was a great day, haha!! When I come back to Canary Islands I definitely come over for some diving with you!!

  5. Hi Neil, Thank you for your comment! You´re absolutely right. For me, it´s the best diving of all Canary Islands I did so far :-) The night dives are spectacular too!!!!

  6. This article takes me back to many happy and interesting dives around Gran Canaria with Dive Academy over many years. I never tire of diving El Cabron, you describe it perfectly, what's on offer and a night dive there is a truly awesome experience.

  7. Hi Ellis,

    Love the blog! It was a great day at Arinaga wasn't it (including the jeep safari :-)?!

    Happy diving and look forward to seeing you again soon. X

    Matt and the Dive Academy Team

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