Wreck diving in Andalucia in Torrox : barco del arroz

An historic diving spot !

Le bateau de riz, el Delfin, à Calaceite à Torrox en Andalousie
The rice boat, El Delfin, wreck dive in Andalucia (photo credit: unknown)

The wreck of the boat El Delfin in Torrox, a “historical” dive site

In this article, you will find the essential information about diving in Andalucia at El barco del arroz :
  • A few words about this diving site
  • Historical facts
  • The boat El Delfin
  • The name Calaceite in Torrox, the legend
  • El barco del arroz, the rice boat, the legend…
  • Book a diving or snorkeling activity
  • Where is the rice boat on the map?
  • Some useful links
  • Experiences to discover in the province of Málaga

A few words about this dive site

This dive site is located in the municipality of Torrox, on the border with Nerja.

Torrox and Nerja are located in Axarquia, in the province of Malaga.

Wreck diving in Andalucia is a special experience. It is very often a place full of history, like this boat.

This site near the coast is curiously little known.

It is the wreck of the ship El Delfin.

Historical facts

The year was 1937, in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. Republican government chartered a ship ‘El Delfin’ (originally a Northern Irish ship) to bring supplies to the Republicans who were besieged in Malaga by Franco’s troops.

The boat was filled with flour, codfish (bacalao) and oil and legend has it that there was also rice in the boat.

This boat was sunk 40km from Malaga, in Torrox, by an Italian submarine, the Ciro Menotti.

It was the last boat, in 1937, that tried to bring supplies to the Republicans.

Shortly afterwards, the “Desbanda” took place: around 150,000 inhabitants of Málaga and its province fled on foot to the coasts of the provinces of Granada and Almeria.

The boat El Delfin

Vista aera del Delfin en Torrox
Aerial view of the barco del arroz in Torrox (photo: google earth)

El Delfin, the 80-metre long steamboat, has been at the same location since 1937. It has since become a diving spot in Torrox, right next to Nerja.

foto el delfin barco del arroz diving in andalucia
foto del Vapor “Delfín” – credito foto : trasmeships

This steamer was built in the Belfast shipyard in 1886.

The name Calaceite in Torrox, the legend

Legend has it that this cove (Cala) was named Calaceite (oil cove) after the shipwreck. It is said that the olive oil in the holds of the ship spilled out onto the water and onto the shore. It was then that this cove, cala, took the name of Calaceite.

However, research has shown that this name already existed in the Al-Andalus period.

El barco del arroz, the rice boat: estas mas perdido…

Another fact: it is said that since the sinking of this boat, all the so-called humanitarian boats that sink at sea are called the rice boats (barco del arroz).

In Andalucia, a popular expression was born from this story: “to be more lost than a rice boat” (“Estás más perdido que el barco del arroz“).

Snorkeling and diving in Andalucia in Torrox and Nerja

There are several ways to reach the wreck of the boat. Indeed, the wreck is only 300 to 400 metres from the shore.
The quickest way is to go by boat.
Observation from the surface is made easier as the wreck is only 5.5m deep.

Diving at the wreck site:

For diving enthusiasts, the wreck has become a sanctuary for fish, sponges, anemones, and plumeros del mar.

If you want to discover the wreck by diving, here is the link to the diving club that offers it:

For the snorkeling lovers, the activity is possible from 8 or 9 years old, you just need to know how to swim. Here is the link to book this activity, from the shore in Nerja and La Herradura, on wonderful sites :

Where is the wreck on the map?

Some useful links

Here is a great car rental agency in Andalusia and more specifically at Malaga airport : book a rental car.
If you are in Andalucia as part of a tour with several major cities to visit, here are some links that may be of interest:

  • All you need to know about Granada, the Alhambra, the Albaicin neighbourhood before visiting Granada

  • If you are passing through the geographical centre of Andalusia, then you can visit Antequera, with the incredible natural site of El Torcal right next door

Experiences to discover in the province of Málaga

Find more ideas for visits to authentic Andalusia: see the blog pages on Andalucia.
Here is the link to receive our newsletter from the andaluciamia.com blog

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