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From Openwaterpedia
Tabarca is part of the Prison Island Swims (or the Triple Break or Triple Crown of Prison Island Swims that were nominated for the 2016 WOWSA Awards, a recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association in the category of World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

Tabarca is an islet located in the Mediterranean Sea, close to the town of Santa Pola, in the province of Alicante, Valencian community, Spain. Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain, known for its marine reserve and start of the Travesía a nado Tabarca - Santa Pola and the Travesia Media Maraton de Tabarca 22km (Tabarca to Alicante Swim).

The local census (2004) counted 98 inhabitants. The islet is 1750 meters long with a maximum breadth of 300 meters and is flat. Tourism is the main economical activity, especially during the summer. There are several boats connecting Tabarca with Alicante, Santa Pola and Torrevieja, with higher frequencies during summer time.

The tiny island has become a popular day trip destination either from Alicante and Santa Pola, with its quiet fishing village offering an old fort, several fresh seafood restaurants, a rocky beach with clear turquoise water, several coves and tidal pools ideal for bathing.

Before 1700, the island was known as Illa de Sant Pau ('Saint Paul's Island') or Illa Plana ('Flat Island'). Believed to be the island that St. Paul disembarked on, the island was a refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of the 18th century.

Tabarca is a protected marine reserve called Reserva marina de la Isla de Tabarca, declared a Zone of Special Protection for Birds by the European Union, with a varied marine fauna (sea bass, grouper, conger eel, gilthead etc.). It is surrounded by very clear and unpolluted waters. The island is formed by materials of volcanic origin on top of which limestone and quaternary deposits have settled.

Tabarca was the last Spanish Mediterranean location where the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal successfully bred before it became extinct in this part of its range in the 1960s. This proves the high quality of the waters around the island in terms of marine ecology. Therefore waters around Tabarca were declared a Marine reserve in 1986, the first of its kind in Spain. This status was mainly granted due to its submarine posidonia prairie, which is the largest in the Spanish Mediterranean and has an extraordinary ecological value in terms of marine fauna and flora.

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