the Mar Menor
The Murcia Region has two different sets of beaches, one the Mediterranean coastline which runs along the coast of the region and is often referred to as the Costa Cálida (literally warm coast) and the second belonging to the Mar Menor (little sea).
The 30km long Mar Menor is Europe’s largest saltwater lake, and is cut off from the sea by a 21km long thin strip of land known locally as “the La Manga strip”, broken half way along by a channel through to the sea via which sailing vessels, and salt water, can pass.
The strip itself is heavily developed and is extremely popular with Spanish holidaymakers, with a concentration of apartments and developments along its length, some overlooking the Mediterranean, and the others the Mar Menor itself.
The internal edge of the Mar Menor contains many sandy beaches, and offers safe family bathing conditions as the Mar Menor itself is shallow, non-tidal and the beaches slope very gently into the water.
The main municipalities fringing the Mar Menor are Cartagena, which also has an important port area and many historical attractions, San Javier in which the regional airport is located, Los Alcázares and San Pedro del Pinatar, also the home of the Salinas regional park, containing salt flats. All of these are major residential areas, with a mixture of apartments, duplexes and town houses and all-year round residential communities. In general, these areas attract those who want to be near the sea, live in a Spanish community and have full facilities nearby.
The municipality of Cartagena covers the largest surface area and stretches inland away from the coast as well as way beyond the city itself to join with the Mazarrón municipality. The Campo de Cartagena is full of rural properties, areas such as Tallante, Galifa and Perín with rocky coastlines and secluded bays as well as small rural communities. The areas around the Mar Menor, such as Cabo de Palos (a charming fishing port) Los Nietos, Los Belones and Los Urrutias all have a mixture of properties, many of them dating from the 70’s when the area first became popular with Spanish holidaymakers. The first section of the La Manga strip belongs to Cartagena and offers flats and apartments. The city has a good leisure and cultural offering with plenty of historical locations to visit.
San Javier is home to the regional airport, air academy and the main hospital servicing the Mar Menor and is popular with Spanish holidaymakers. The main seaside accommodation is in Santiago de la Ribera, around 3 km from the main town centre of San Javier itself. Much of the property offering is in tree lined residential streets and the area retains a traditional Spanish air, becoming very busy during the summer. The beaches all run around the inner fringe of the Mar Menor and there is a ferry linking Santiago de la Ribera to the bottom half of the La Manga strip which lies within the San Javier municipality.
Los Alcázares has a strong expat community, attracted by the beautiful beaches, promenade and busy social programme run by the voluntary organisations in the area. Much of the property offering is in modern duplex form, with residential areas just a few minutes from the Mar Menor. The town has good shopping facilities and plenty of restaurants, with a large population during the summer months, as well as several excellent sandy beaches and a good summer cultural programme.
San Pedro del Pinatar
This municipality occupies the far end of the Mar Menor, a large proportion of it taken up by the Salinas Regional Park and salt flats, popular with bird watchers, cyclists and walkers. Accommodation is all residential, spreading back from the seafront and out of the back of the town, a mixture of modern and 1970’s properties, without any definable urbanisations. There are good urban beaches fringing the Mar Menor and areas with natural mud deposits which offer free healthy beauty treatments.
La Manga Club
The most important urbanisation in this whole area is La Manga Club, a resort the size of Monaco which sports a 5 star hotel, the best golf courses in the region and a sports training complex which has been the choice of national teams training for cricket and rugby for many years. The resort is surrounded by private accommodation and is the location for some of the most up-market and exclusive properties in the region. La Manga Club lies within the Cartagena municipality and is close to Los Belones, a village set slightly inland which has a good selection of shops, medical centre and community centre.