Mar Menor Beaches
Visitors to La Manga not only have the lovely beaches and bays of the ‘Strip' to enjoy, but also have the long golden sands and sweeping bays of the Mar Menor beaches on their doorstep. Regarded as a large inland salt lagoon or small sea, the Mar Menor covers a vast area of 135 square kilometres and the wonderful Mar Menor beaches are backed by popular towns and holiday resorts which really come alive during the peak summer months with both foreign and Spanish holidaymakers making the most of the glorious Mediterranean coastal climate.
Mar Menor Beaches
One of the reasons that make the Mar Menor beaches so popular is due to its calm shallow waters that only average 4 metres in depth, and the seabed shelves so gently you can walk several hundred metres before the water reaches your chin. Added to this, the high salinity of the water makes it very buoyant and therefore a very safe place to swim, favoured by the elderly, those with disabilities and families with young children.
On leaving the La Manga Strip and heading north the first beach you come to is Playa Paraiso, a large sweeping bay with wide golden sands backed by a pleasant promenade where visitors can enjoy snacks and refreshments from several lively beach bars. There is parking at the beginning of the beach, wheelchair access, children's play areas and ample beach facilities, although you wouldn't guess this when you see the Spanish holidaymakers arrive with the whole family in tow and enough food, drink, tables, chairs and gazebo's to hold a banquet!
A bit further along you come to the villages of Mar de Cristal and Los Nietos that boast several small marinas offering opportunities for sailing and a number of wind and water sports. After passing an area of salt marsh you reach the popular residential areas of Estrella de Mar and Punta Brava offering two small beaches, a marina and a handful of shops, bars and restaurants including the unique Paddy Singh's where you can indulge in two British favourites, a good old curry and a pint of Guinness while watching the latest football matches.
Continuing north along the coast you pass a further salt marsh before reaching the lively town of Los Alcázares. With its location in the northern part of the Mar Menor and close to Murcia-San Javier Airport, the town is popular with both holidaymakers and the large population of British expats living in the nearby area of Orihuela Costa that visit on weekends. Boasting some of the most popular of the Mar Menor beaches, the town is a hive of activity, especially around the Playa de los Martínez area and the ‘Strip' favoured by British and Irish visitors along Av. Río Nalón. Those who fancy pub grub and a pint of ale will find a number of aptly named eateries and watering holes such as The Red Lion, Celt Irish Bar and Penny Farthing.
Creatures From The Deep
The most famous of the Mar Menor beaches is actually not a beach at all, but rather a large salt flat located on the northern side of the airport in the small town of Lo Pagan. Running along the area that forms the northern spit of La Manga and separated from the Mar Menor by a raised dyke, the salt flats are famed for their mud, locally known as La Puntica. The mud is rich in minerals such as potassium, sulphur, silica and magnesium which are considered beneficial in curing a number of diseases, skin disorders, arthritis and other common ailments. Don't be shocked when visiting the area to see people emerging from the water looking like creatures from the deep, covered from head to toe in the mud which is not too easy to get off!