Tag Archives: Salt Lakes

Mar Menor

First of all the Mar Menor or the little sea, is situated in the community of Murcia, near the city of Cartagena.
And it is a part of the Costa Calida. Now the Mar Menor is a unique sea lagoon and well worth a visit.
Alongside the Mar Menor there are lots of little villages.
In fact, if you hire a bicycle you can make stops as often as you want. But to be honest, we loved the charm of the Mar Menor so much that we spend often the whole day at one place ( in Santiago de la Ribera, in Lo Pagan ).

meanwhile soak up the amazing vistas from its viewpoint across the lagoon towards the Strip and behind to the mountains of the Sierra Mineras. Then head to La Manga and explore all that the Strip has to offer.

Between La Manga  and  San Pedro del Pinitar, it creates a small channel out and in the Mar Menor.

In the past , the Moorish kings in the 9th century chose this lovely place for their summer residences.
In the middle of  the 20th century is became famous by the Hollywood stars who made Western films in Andalusia: Lawrence of Arabia,Cleopatra, A fistful of dollars…..
Indeed, the movie stars called it the largest swimming pool in the world. In fact the Mar Menor has a maximum depth of 7 m.
While  we were on holiday , we did like to go swimming in the lagoon because off  the very salty warm water. Because the salt level helps us floating, and this was a lovely experience.

Santiago de la Ribera.

Side by side with San Javier is Santiago de la Ribera, a small village near the airport of San Javier.
Close to the city center , there is a boat crossing to the “La Manga strip” and back.
Although, be aware that if you miss the boat, it is a long drive back around the sea to the village.

San Javier.

More important is the town of San Javier on the shores of the Mar Menor.
In the past San Javier has grown in size since the 20th century. Presently, the town is famous for the San Javier jazz festival and it is also the base of the Spanish Air Force.
Specifically , the museum of San Javier contains information about the airplane. There are several exhibition rooms and lots of information as books, displays relating  to the airplane.

In addition , San Javier is since 1998 known for its Jazz Festival held during the month of July.
Furthermore ,there is a weekly street market on Tuesday morning.
Near San Javier is a modern shopping mall, called Dos Mares. Till 2013 is was the largest in the area. There is a very large “Eroski”, a famous supermarket. in particular it is located in the mall of “Dos Mares”. The shopping mall  got a cinema with films in Spanish. Even though ,look for the English subtitles.
Naturally ,  “Dos Mares” can be an option when it rains, but it nearly never rains in southern Costa Blanca.

Los Alcazares.

Another town is Los Alcazares, it is also one of the  charming seaside towns around the shores of the Mar Menor.
First, Los Alcazares has a kilometers long nice promenade to stroll along with a splendid view on the “little sea”.
then ,the beach is sandy and perfect for families.
When we visited in September and December the Los Alcazares area, was very quiet and ideal to relax. We did make a great walk along the beachfront. And hired a bike to do the bike ride round the salty inside sea.
Next, there are many little Spanish bars and restaurants to eat a little snack ( tapas) or a drink.  at last do not miss the local great seafood coming from here  “ a la plancha” or “asado “ , grilled or baked.
We went to the restaurant “La encarnacion Los Alcazares “ in Hotel Balneario and to the beach bar ” San Antonio”.

Menu

After all, the Mar Menor famous dish is the “caldero” .The caldero is a sea food dish made with good fish, rice and a special ingredient ” noras”:  red peppers .
As a appetizers, you can choose the different salted fish. We did like very much the Hueva ( eggs of a fish) and mojama: salted tuna. Naturaly ,we really enjoyed the mojama as a tapa mixed with tomatoes and olives.
as a result, we even bought the” mojama” as a souvenir, so when we were back home we tasted once again the Mar Menor.

Mar Menor Mojama

Mar Menor Mojama

Another specialty of the Mar Menor are the langoustines, famous of their exquisite taste.

 

 

 

 

Finaly, as a dessert we did like the ” Tocino de cielo “: touch of heaven. It is a sweet dessert.

Weekly market on Tuesday morning in Los Alcazares

Lo Pagan.

 
Lo Pagan  is very Spanish and very few of the friendly locals speak English.
Lo Pagan is also well-known  for the mineral mud baths  . In the mud baths  you can have a healthy beauty treatment for the skin. Read our article about the Mud Baths.

Mar Menor mud bath

Mar Menor mud bath

 

Punta Brava.

 
Once again a nice little town with long sandy beaches and a beach promenade.
Things to do: a lovely walk around the hill to the top for an amazing point of view of the Mar Menor and the environment.

Cabo de Palos.

 
This coastline is more rocky with cliffs and coves. Take a walk to the lighthouse.
The beach is sandy.
The harbor offers local fresh fish in a lots of nice restaurants.

Mar Menor Cabo de Palos

Mar Menor Cabo de Palos

 

Nautical sports Mar Menor.

The place is well-known by the Spanish people for the watersports : from sailing, to windsurfing, to dive, to jet skiing….
Thanks to its warm waters and its mild temperature you can enjoy the possibilities of the Mar Menor 365 days a year. There is not always sunshine, but the weather is excellent.
The Spanish people appreciated the Mar Menor for the possibility of the race courses.
In the little towns around the Mar Menor there are several Nautical schools.
If you are a water lover no matter the age of level you find something you like. The possibilities are : canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, SUP paddle…

But also families do like it, because  the Mar Menor is probably one of the safest places for children. You can go 50 m into the Mar Menor and you are still waist deep.

There are two natural parks (Salt lakes)  or “ Salinas”. And nearly always you can see the flamingos.

Mar Menor Flamingo

Mar Menor Flamingo

If you want to relax: avoid the Saturday and Sundays and the summer holidays.
The locals descend on the lovely beaches, leaving them crowded. In the summer the sea temperature rises to 27 degrees.
We are going back to this little piece of heaven. We are in love , we are “enamorada”.

 

 

The windmills of the Mar Menor

The cultural and folk association has asked at the regional goverment to restore old windmills around the Mar Menor.
Because, there are still more than 150 windmills , some of then more than 200 years old.
Although they are protected, they are falling into ruins. Due to the neglect of the owners and the authority.

windmills

windmills

 

in fact, we have seen many of the ruins of windmills from the Ap 7 motorway to Cartagena.
In spite of the cultural heritage , from some mills  where only left the walls, others the wooden wheel, some times the blades of the rooftop.

In the past  the windmills were very important for the economy.. Indeed, there were used  to pup the water  to irrigate the vegetables, to grind the cereals and to make flour.

Windmills are very popular in Spain. We think at Don Quixote an d his war against the windmills.

At the Mar Menor, they can become a sort of Bed and Breakfast .So is is time to restore them.

 

 

 

 

Torrevieja La Mata Natural park

Torrevieja La Mata.

First of all, “La Mata Salt lake” and “Torrevieja Salt lake” are easy to find on the N 332 at 5 km from Torrevieja.
Indeed, Torrevieja is situated in the southern part of  the sunny Costa Blanca.
In fact, Torrevieja is one of the many  little fishing village who grown into a touristic center.

La Mata Salt lake  Natural Park

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Entering Torrevieja you will pass between two salt lakes. The salt lake of La Mata and the salt lake of Torrevieja. One is green nearly blue color the other one is of an sort pink rose color.
Both are the homeland for all kinds of flowers and birds. In the history of the city both salt lakes are very important, and are the mean reason why it is  developed from a little local fishing village to a city.
The history of the lakes goes back to the 13th century when the first licenses were given by the king for the harvest of salt.

In contrast, the Torrevieja salt lake  is pink, the La Mata  is green-blue.
The local people love their salt lakes because they are ideal for a picnic and a nice walk.
The main attraction for the tourists and many photographers are the more than 2000 famous flamingos who can seen mostly during the breeding season. When the flamingos are in the salt lake they gave a grey color. Many of the grey flamingos turn into beautiful pink flamingos eating the shrimps during their stay in Torrevieja . Like the many tourists who become their nice tan during their stay in the Costa Blanca.
Their are not only flamingos but also all kind of aquatic, wading and marine birds in this natural park.

With a little luck you can discover weasels, hedgehogs,lizards, foxes and snakes.
In Spring the flowers  provide a rainbow of  color.
The pink color of the Torrevieja lake is caused by the color of a bacteria which lives in very salty water. The same bacteria is also found in other famous salt lakes  like Dead Sea. The other reason of the pink color is an alga at certain times of the year.  The shrimp which lives in the lake, becomes also red because the bacteria and the alga is his food. And the flamingos eat the shrimps and turn pink.

The two salt lakes of Torrevieja and Torrevieja La Mata are a protected natural park.

Now, they are still the biggest and oldest salt lakes in Europe. They are producing the salt for the cold winters on the roads of Northern Europe.
The production starts the heat up in the warm months of June till the end of October.
The process as salt winning  begins when the sea is carrying seawater to the Mata salt lake.
Once the seawater reaches the salt lake, the water starts to evaporate under the warm sun. As a result, the salt level rises.
Then the salt water is carries to the Torrevieja salt lake, where the salt level is even higher.
This melting of the waters is  a very important moment in the process of crystallization.
The salt starts to solidify at the bottom of the salt lake and now is the moment to collect the salt.

The Torrevieja salt lake is the largest, Torrevieja La Mata lake is more an important historical lake.

The salt lakes are connected with the sea by two channels allowing the depth of the lakes to be altered for the salt production.
There is very little vegetation in the salt lake ,too high level of salinity. But they are  at least 2000 different species of birds, like the lovely pink flamingo’s.

Torrevieja La Mata Natural Park

 

 

It is possible to make a walk in La Mata natural park. The parkt offers you an hour stroll through one of the most beautiful spots of the natural Park.
The sandy paths allow all year round walking. There are different routes which can be taken.
In La Mata Village there are grape fields. Traditionally the make a very fine sweet white desert wine. You can taste the wine in the cellars of La Mata bodegas.

The salt lake of La Malta has declared an important area for bird life and other wild life.
The park is easy to find sign posted with the signs, and the visitor center is visible from
the N 332.

Inside the Natural Park information office or “Casa Forestal de La Mata” . In the center  there are interesting exhibitions of the flora and fauna, by the Salt lake.
Inside the information center, you can find interactive information boards and leaflets in different languages.
The brochures shows the walking paths and the passages for bicycles.
Some paths have no or little shade.So be aware for the sunburn and wear a sun head and a good sun protector.
The walking roads are sandy, so it is advisable to wear good shoes.

Picnic areas.

In the park there are no restaurants, no cafe and no little bars. It is better to take your provision of refreshments with you. But there are beautiful picnic areas, mostly under pine trees, where you have a great view of the salt lake.
The natural park of La Mata Torrevieja is one of the natural parks of the Valencia region will benefit from a 400 000 Euro handout from the social fund of a bank in 2014.
The bank has been working with the regional government on environmental scenes schemes since  the last 8 years.

In the future, La Mata Torrevieja park will improved their many activities such as cycling pads, walking area and horse riding .
Indeed, it is a benefit for the town of Torrevieja and the Orihuela region .
In the Mata Park you may spend at least several hours enjoining the unspoiled park, the flamingo’s, the great view on the lake an the mountains inland.

Access to the park via the Coast N332 between Alicante and Cartagena.
First, distance to Alicante  =50 km.
Then, distance to Benidorm = 80 km.
Next, distance to Cathagena = 60 km.
And distance to Orihuela = 30 km.

Torrevieja La Mata Opening Times.

October to May.

Tuesday to Friday.
9:30 to 14:00.
Tuesday and Thursday.
9:30 to 14:00.
16:00 to 17:30.

June to September.

Everyday 9:30 to 14:30.
Weekends and bank Holidays.
9:30 to 13:30.