Travel southwards along the Spanish coast from the Costa Blanca South, and you’ll come to the Costa Cálida in Murcia, a 250km stretch along the Mediterranean.
Reaching from El Mojón (right next to La Torre de la Horadada) on its northern extremity, and to Águilas in the south, it boasts white sands framed by cliffs, crystal clear waters, and a climate that will make you want to stay forever.
(Map of Spain – The red circle along the coast is the “Costa Cálida” area)
The coastline to the north includes the Mar Menor or “Lesser Sea”. This saltwater lagoon, the biggest in Europe, is separated from the sea by La Manga, 22 kms of land that holds most of the region’s development.
Even if you’re not familiar with the Costa Calida or Murcia, you’ve probably heard of La Manga’s famous golf club, and whether you’re a golfer or a spectator, you’ll find much to interest you among the area’s other PGA championship courses – El Valle was host to the European Seniors Tour in 2011, while Hacienda del Alamo is Spain’s longest course.
(Mar Menor, as seen on Google Maps)
San Pedro del Pinatar is popular with tourists visiting Costa Cálida or Murcia, and you’ll be spoilt for choice of water-based activities. If you’re a bird watcher, don’t miss the Regional Park, a desirable residence for nesting migratory birds. In addition, its mud is recommended for treating bone and skin complaints!
The pretty fishing village of Santiago de la Ribera has four kilometres of fine sand, backed by a promenade of palm trees. Residents of the Costa Calida have Spain’s love of celebrations to thank for two July events, the fiesta del Virgen del Carmen (patron saint of sailors) and a jazz festival.
For more water sports, head for Los Alcázares on the edge of the Mar Menor. Enjoy windsurfing, sailing and kayaking at the marine centre, and then recover in the sea, which is famed for its therapeutic properties.
If you’re a scuba diving fan, you’ll find one of Spain’s best sites at La Manga’s Cabo de Palos (lighthouse picture on top), with its coral reefs and submerged shipwrecks within a designated Integral Marine Reserve.
(Sunset in La Manga)
Explore the ancient city of Cartagena, an important naval base and cruise ship stop-off. Roman, Phoenician, Byzantine and Moorish civilisations have all left their mark, and if you want something more recent, Art Nouveau is well represented.
The city of Mazarrón is blessed with a bay sheltered by the foothills of the Sierra de la Almenara, an area for mining since Carthaginian times. Look out for the Torre de los Caballos, constructed to protect against pirates in the sixteenth century, and then progress to the twentieth for buildings in the Murcia Modernism style.
(Cartagena, view from the San Julián Castle)
The port city of Águilas has been a Roman fishing town, an exit point for the region’s produce, and a significant mining area. Browse its market and find time for the sixteenth-century fortress, railway monument and distinctive black and white lighthouse, guiding sailors since the mid-nineteenth century. If you’re there in springtime, take in the local carnival too.
The Costa Calida is Spain’s lesser-known coast, and you won’t regret giving it a try. With a name that translates as the “Warm Coast”, what’s not to like?
Credit image: Chema Concellón
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