Mar Menor and La Manga
The Mar Menor is an extensive coastal lagoon measuring some 170 square kilometres. Consisting of warm salt waters. this lagoon was originally a bay that opened out to the Mediterranean, but is now separated from the sea by a narrow bank of sand some 24 kilometres long known as La Manga. A curious whim of nature that presents extensive beaches washed by the sea on both sides. Due to the excellent climate in the area this is an ideal spot for pursuing all kinds of water-sports throughout the year.
Things to see
San Pedro del Pinatar. The Regional Park of Las Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar is an ideal place from which to observe migratory birds, such as the flamingo in autumn; it has its own Wetlands Research and Conservation Centre, “Las Salinas”, which houses the Park’s Visitors Centre. Neither should the Windmills of Quintín and La Calcetera be missed, or stately homes such as those of the Baron of Benifayó and the House of El Reloj, the latter built in the Modernist style. The fish auction at La Lonja, the Museum-Collection of the Sea and the Ethnographic Archaeological Museum are also well worth a visit.
San Javier. The Church and Parish Museum , the Museum of San Javier With its Hall of El Belén, the Ethnologicai Museum and the Museum of El Reportero.
Santiago de la Ribera. Based on a model grid design, the town features a beautiful promenade lined with age-old palm trees, the unique building of the Sailing Club and a number of summer mansions dating from the early years of the last century.
Los Alcazares. As well as enjoying the marvellous sea promenade, we can also admire the Tower of El Ramé (16th century), the Municipal Aeronautical Museum and the Hotel Spa of La Encarnación (19th century), which is equipped With a peculiar thermal system.
Cabo de Palos. In this fishing village we find the Lighthouse of Cabo de Palos (19th century), formerly used as a lighthouse operators’ school, and the Documentation and Exhibition Centre for the Region’s Tourist Resources.
Things to do
The Mar Menor Sea Resort consists of a series of sailing, water-sports and tourist infrastructures grouped around the shores of the Mar Menor, offering visitors an entire range of activities and services at its more than 20 shoreline bases, enabling them to learn, perfect or simply enjoy sailing, water-skiing, scuba diving, motor-boating, canoeing, flysurfing, windsurfing and catamaran sailing. For scuba-diving lovers, these warm waters harbour sea-beds teeming with plant and animal life, such as the Marine Reserve of Cabo de Palos-Islas Hormigas. Scuba divers will also be captivated by the remains of a number of sunken ships. Visitors can also enjoy a number of previously designed routes, either by sea (in canoe, sailing boat or motor-boat), or on land (bicycle, on horseback or on foot), as well as under the water.
You can also play golf on the nearby courses at La Manga Club Resort in Los Belones, at the Mar Menor Golf Resort in Torre-Pacheco, at Roda Golf in San Javier or at La Serena in Los Alcazares. Alternatively, the could discover small deserted coves where they can bathe naked, visit the Regional Parks of Calblanque and Las Salinas de San Pedro, undergo mud-therapy treatment at the thalassotherapy centres of La Manga and Lo Pagán or at the well-known Mud-baths at Las Charcas de las Salinas, or discover the “Winter beaches” of Santiago de la Ribera, which are perfectly equipped for visitors to enjoy the mild climate throughout the entire year.
The magnificent cultural delights on offer Include events such as the international Jazz Festival, the International Theatre, Music and Dance Festival, the Músicas del Alma Cycle and the Pecataminuta Music Festival, all of which are staged at San Javier. At Los Alcazares visitors will enjoy the Semana de la Huerta (“Countryside Week”) in August and the “lncursiones Berberiscas“ (“Berber invasions”), a Medieval market and series of theatrical performances, during Holy Week, whilst in San Pedro they will be able to witness the Fiestas of La Virgen del Carmen in July, with the traditional seamen’s procession, as well as Holy Week itself, both of which have been declared to be of Regional Tourist interest.
Things to Buy and Eat
The cuisine of the Mar Menor area is mainly based on local fish and shellfish products: Exquisite prawns from the Mar Menor, rice stew, salted fish and fried fish.
San Pedro del Pinatar. Salted fish products. Market on Monday mornings.
San Javier. Pastel de Cierva (typical pie) and tocino de cielo (rich custard dessert). Markets every Thursday morning in San Javier and Wednesday in Santiago de la Ribera.
Los Alcézares. Market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.
Cabo de Palos. Market on Sunday morning.
La Manga. Leisure Centres are located at the Plaza Btohemia, El 2000 and the Tomas Maestre Harbour.