Costa Calida? I hadn’t heard of it. It was only when I was organising my family trip to La Manga Club Resort with James Villa Holidays back in April that I started my research and there wasn’t an awful lot to be found. Guide books on the area were scarce and the one I did buy was a 20 page pamphlet rather than a book. I was intrigued, why had no one written about it before?
The Costa Calida lies south of the Costa Blanca and north of Costa Almeria. To reach it you fly into Murcia or Alicante and if, like us, you choose Murcia airport then you have the most spectacular view of the Mar Menor as the plane comes into land.
The airport is situated at the top of the Mar Menor and is well connected to the main motorway leading to all of the resorts mentioned below and further into Spain.
We were staying at La Manga Club Resort which is to the south of the Mar Menor and famous for the perfectly groomed golf greens that were the origin of this exclusive holiday resort. Here the England Football Team have trained to get acclimatised to the heat for World Cup matches. Celebrities stay frequently and to call it a resort is a bit of an understatement, it’s more like a large town with shops, restaurants, golf course and a huge spa with the most breathtaking view from high up on the mountain. You most definitely need a car to get around.
I had banked on good Spanish weather in late April so I guess I kind of brought it upon myself that we spent a week with high winds and rain interspersing the sunny moments. A real mixed bag of weather for us, however it did encourage us to get out more, so over the course of a week we explored the surrounding area far and wide and came up with a What to see in Costa Calida list for anyone else planning to visit the area soon.
What to see in Costa Calida
La Manga Strip
La Manga Strip is a 22km slither of land that extends from the mainland out into the sea and back in to the mainland just above Murcia airport creating a 170km sq saltwater lagoon. It has been built on extensively since the 1960’s and is now home to many high rise apartments and hotels. The roads are wide and run the entire length of the strip, we sailed down them but I am told in high season it gets packed. There are wonderful views on either side, plenty of beaches to stop and stay at and of course an abundance of restaurants and cafes.
Cabo de Palos
Possibly my favourite place from all that we visited. Cabo de Palos is situated at the bottom of the Mar Menor just before the start of La Manga Strip, a fishing village with a beautiful harbour. there are some wonderful restaurants and a really interesting weekly market to visit. Cabo de Palos has a sandy beach on the Mediterranean side and a lighthouse you can walk up to but not visit inside.
A beautiful sunny town that’s about half way down the Mar Menor on the mainland side. The beaches are fine white sand and the water is shallow, perfect for taking the children. There is a wonderful promenade to walk alongside the sandy beach which is full of restaurants, bars and shops.
San Pedro del Pinatar
A really interesting town at the top of Mar Menor not far from the airport, San Pedro del Pinatar is famous for it’s mud that has many healing properties and has been used since the Romans lived here. You can try it out for yourself by entering the water using the public bathing platforms and smothering your body in the mud whilst enjoying a swim in the water. It has a wonderful nature reserve that is full of wild animals and salt mines. In this area there were a lot of kitesurfers and we spent a while watching them from the water’s edge.
Cartagena is a large town with a lot of history and is a short journey from the Mar Menor. It is very popular with cruise ships who stop off to allow the passengers to explore the roman ruins and the beautiful city as it stands today. There is an abundance of art and architecture and plenty of places of interest to visit from the museum of underwater archeology to the castle perched on the hilltop looking out to sea. A fascinating town.