Type of protected nature area: Nature park
The 2,469 hectare of the Salinas Nature Reserve, is situated in the district of Elche in the area of El Pinet and, for the main part, in Santa Pola. It includes an area of salt farms (Bras del Port and Bonmatí), some saltwater pools, a fringe of salt marshes and a swathe of beaches and dunes. This area, together with El Hondo, take in the extensive lagoon at the mouth of the Vinalopó River which continues to empty its scarce flow into the sea at this point. Declared an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty by the regional government, the Generalitat Valenciana, in 1988 and a Nature Reserve in 1994, it appears in the list of the RAMSAR Convention and is classified as ZEPA (Area of Special Protection for Birds).
In the Salinas there are three different typical botanical areas: the salt marshs, the reed beds and the vegetated dunes. The salt marshes are the most widespread, constituting its most representative botanical area. They are populated by plant species which have adapted to the extreme environmental conditions, caused by the high levels of salts dissolved in the soil, and include marsh samphire, sosas and sea lavender. Among the many types of limonium present in this Nature Reserve the presence of endemic Alicante species, such as the limonium santapolense, is noteworthy.
The reedbeds are widely distributed, colonising the permanent water environments with a lesser degree of salinity, as well as all the edges of the water ditches and channels. The vegetated dunes run along the length of the beach, from the tower of El Pinet up to the house of La Albufera.
Flamingos are the most characteristic birds of the reserve, with colonies that sometimes exceed eight thousand in number. There are also scoopers, storks and great variety of ducks, amongst other species.
The Nature Reserve also has a Visitor Centre, with a Salt Museum amongst its attractions, which is located beside the N-332 road (at km 87.4)