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.
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.
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”.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.