La Manga & The Mar Menor
Most visitors to the Murcia region will have heard of La Manga and when they arrive at San Javier airport they will see something that looks like Las Vegas rising shimmering from the Mar Menor. This is La Manga del Mar Menor.
- The Mar Menor, Murcia
There are in fact two La Mangas in Murcia, La Manga del Mar Menor and La Manga Club. The former is the one most people usually explore first and this is a long narrow piece of land that more or less divides the Mar Menor Sea from the Mediterranean Sea. Its name translated from Spanish means, ‘the sleeve’ and from an aerial perspective it does look like a long arm jutting out protectively around the Mar Menor sea. It was formed when sand and sediment built up on underwater mountains eventually forming this nineteen kilometre column of sand and dunes. In the 1960s La Manga del Mar Menor, commonly called La Manga Strip, was discovered as a tourist resort and today it is covered in apartments and villas, the majority designed with the holiday maker in mind.
Many people visit the La Manga strip and wonder why it is so popular! Close up the La Manga Strip can be less impressive with some sixties style apartment blocks, hotels themed as castles and, in summer months, fairly heavy traffic. However it is incredibly popular with tourists from within Spain and abroad for a number of very good reasons.
For beach lovers it really has everything. On one side you have the calm, shallow waters of the Mar Menor, the beaches are gently slopping and it is ideal for small children or the less confident bather. Then you can simply cross the road and enjoy kilometres of golden beaches and rolling breakers on the Mediterranean side. Take a look here for a full list of the beaches on the Mar Menor.
- Sailing on The Mar Menor
Water sport enthusiasts of all types also flock to La Manga Strip and there are numerous water sports centres to visit. There are some great water sports centres where you can try out wind or kite surfing. If scuba diving is your thing then continue on further down the strip and visit the Deep Impact Diving Centre where they offer training for novices and visits to dive sites for the experienced divers. For sailors there are a number of marinas and sailing schools on the strip and you can either take to the water on the Mar Menor or the Mediterranean. Take a look at our experience of learning to drive a boat on the Mar Menor. However, access to the Mediterranean from the Mar Menor is through a canal with a drawbridge so you must check the opening times to ascertain when you can pass if you have a tall mast.
Golfers have not been forgotten and towards the end of La Manga Strip is Veneziola Golf, a nine hole pitch and putt course. The breeze straight off the sea can be a challenge and there is a pleasant club house with a bar and coffee shop where you can drink in views of the Mediterranean.
Of course it wouldn’t be a proper Spanish holiday resort without places to eat and drink and La Manga Strip offers both of these in abundance. Popular areas to try are the Plaza Cavanna, Plaza Bohemia and Tomas Maestre marina. They all have a choice of bars and restaurants and a good atmosphere. There are also many other restaurants on either side of the strip waiting for you to discover. A recent and very popular addition is the Restaurante El Parador which is an old finca with a palm tree garden and stunning views of the Mar Menor.
If you are looking for some heady Spanish nightlife then the area called El Zoco on the strip is the place to go. It has a mixture of bars, restaurants and clubs and all are open well into the early hours of the morning.
La Manga del Mar Menor is a seasonal resort. Visit in the winter and the strip will be extremely quiet and many businesses, bars and restaurants will be closed. Visit in the summer months and you’ll enjoy wonderful beaches, good food, fun and relaxation.
Close by you can find the beautiful Calblanque regional park. Calblanque is a remote and almost untouched stretch of coast, just south of the Mar Menor. This designated natural park enjoys secluded bays, solitude and an abundance of wild birds and flowers.
Debbie Jenkins – Murcia-based, Spanish food & travel writer – author of Going Native in Murcia, Spanish Village Cooking – Recetas del Campo and Spanish Cooking Uncovered: Farmhouse Favourites