The park's terrain and clear waters provide fabulous sport. Operators offer a range of activities – diving, snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, cycling, horse riding, 4WD and boat tours – over Easter and in high summer (July to September).

Feature: Walking the Cabo de Gata Coast

An extensive network of roads and trails runs for about 50km along the coast from San Miguel de Cabo de Gata to Agua Amarga. The full hike requires three days and should only be attempted in spring or, even better, autumn (when the sea is warm), as the summer heat is fierce and there is no shade. But you can embark on sections of the walk for a day or afternoon, and some of the beaches you'll pass are otherwise inaccessible.

Southwest from San José it's a fine 9km walk of about 2½ hours (passing some of the best beaches) to the Torre Vigía Vela Blanca, an old lookout tower with superb panoramas. Northeast from San José, there are further views to be enjoyed on the fairly level 8km hike to the tiny beach settlement of Los Escullos. The route, which partly follows old mining roads, skirts the ancient volcano El Fraile.

Another good stretch is from Rodalquilar along the valley to Playa del Playazo, then up the coast along scenic cliff edges to Las Negras (6km from Rodalquilar). It’s another 3km to the real prize: Playa San Pedro – inaccessible by road – with its small settlement of boho-travellers. You can also drive to Las Negras and walk to Playa San Pedro from there.