La Manga del Mar Menor
La Manga is a strip of land 21 metres in length with a width of approximately 100 metres at some parts, extending across the Mar Menor, on the Costa Calida, nearly but not quite meeting San Pedro, Lo Pagan on the opposite side. This sand spit, as it’s known, separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor, which translates as ‘little sea’.
Long sandy beaches stretch along parts of the La Manga strip, also known as ‘La Manga del Mar Menor, interspersed with small coves on either side.
A Tale of Two Seas
On one side of the sand spit, you have the waves of the Med, while the other, the Mar Menor, is calm and tranquil. First-time visitors often find it fascinating that all they have to do is cross the main road to experience both within minutes of one another. A tale of two seas, so to speak.
Islands off La Manga
Part of the municipality of Cartagena in the region of Murcia, three of the islands that lie off the coast of La Manga del Mar Menor are great attractions for scuba diving, Isla Grosa and Isolete El Farallon, which are protected areas and Isla Hormigas, which is part of the Cabo de Palos marine reserve.
La Manga Club
The famous La Manga Club built within the hills that overlook the Mar Menor, earned the vote of ‘No. 1 Sports Resort in Europe’ numerous times. The resort boasts the beautiful Hotel Principe Felipe and has three 18 hole golf courses, a football academy, tennis centre European Cricket Centre and a fitness centre with 25 metre indoor heated swimming pool and state of the art gym. Many famous football teams trained at La Manga Club over the years including the Spanish national team.
La Manga is a very popular tourist destination in the summer and residents find the wonderful Mar Menor ideal for paddle boarding, the Med for windsurfing and both for water sports and boat tours, all year round. With water skiing and sailing schools, catamarans and yachts. the area is a watersports paradise.
Cabo de Palos
The delightful port of Cabo de Palos, which is a rocky outcrop of the La Manga Strip, is a popular spot for both visitors and locals alike. Besides the fishermen making a living with their daily catch, this location also serves as a marina. Flanked by shops, bars and a selection of eateries, the allure is completed by a lighthouse on the headland, dating back to 1865.
Cabo de Palos is also popular with divers. Together with neighbouring Islas de Hormigas, the area is full of aquatic fauna, together with the remains of sunken ships torn apart by the force of waves crashing vessels against the rocks for hundreds of years. Of these, likely the most well known is the sinking of the Sirio ocean liner, in 1906 with the loss of approximately 250 souls.
Puerto de Tomas Maestre
The largest of the La Manga marinas, Puerto Tomas Maestre was built in the 1970s by Tomas Maestre Aznar, the innovative nephew of Tomas Maestre Zapata, part of the family of business tycoon Miguel Zapata Saez. He accomplished this after years of carefully planned purchases of land within the sand spit. With more than 1700 berths for boats not exceeding 30 metres in length, the marina can be accessed from both the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean. Water and electricity are supplied to each berth, together with fuel and repair facilities as needed. The Club Nautico at Puerto Tomas Maestre offers a gym and swimming pool for customers and it is from there that regattas are often organised.
The La Manga Magic
Visit La Manga to feel the magic of the combination the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean Sea, divided only by this long sand spit. Enjoy the abundance of restaurants that offer you tastes of the Mediterranean and more, shop in local boutiques. Visit in the winter, when it’s quieter, to blend with the locals, better still, become a local. In the summer months, feel like a tourist as the essence of the holiday season floats over you and draws you in, to be as the Spanish are. Learn their traditions, share yours, integrate into the wonder that is Spanish life, be it in the Mar Menor, elsewhere on the Costa Calida, or indeed the Costa Blanca. Wherever you choose, live it, love it, just be!!