20 October 2022

Things to do in La Manga del Mar Menor

La Manga del Mar Menor is one of the major national and international tourist destinations. In its 22 km length, it is home to dozens of beaches and coves where you can enjoy a quiet family holiday. But there is much more to see and do in La Manga del Mar Menor and the surrounding area. Discover in the following lines some of the curiosities of this particular geographical feature and make a note of all the plans that La Manga has to offer.

Before going into the list of things to do in La Manga del Mar Menor, let's take a historical look at its origins and its growth as a tourist destination. La Manga del Mar Menor as we know it today was created in the 17th century. At that time, the sea currents deposited the sands that they transported over a volcanic formation or bar. This tongue or arm of sand that accumulated separated the coastal lagoon (Mar Menor) from the Mediterranean Sea for almost its entire length and gave rise to the current Manga del Mar Menor.

The sandy bar is approximately 22 kilometres long and varies in width from 100 to 1,200 metres. Along the more than twenty kilometres of La Manga there are 5 passes where the waters of the two seas meet. These passes are called golas and are called Marchamalo, El Estacio, El Charco, La Torre and El Ventorrillo.

Two centuries before the birth of the current geography of La Manga, at the time of Charles V and Philip II, it was common for Barbary pirates to arrive at the Mar Menor in search of fresh water, taking advantage of their incursions into Murcian waters. This led to the construction of watchtowers, of which only the memory remains today, as the lighthouses of Cabo de Palos and El Estacio were built on top of them.

Until 1863, La Manga was state property, but in order to raise cash during a process of disentailment, it was sold at public auction and acquired by the people of the area. A century later came the tourist boom which led to the approval of various urban development plans along the coast. The development of one of the plans marked the beginning of the massive urbanisation of La Manga and led to its current appearance.

What to see in and around La Manga

Nature's design of La Manga developed sun and beach tourism around the magnificent beaches and coves of the area. But although there are not many places to visit in La Manga as such, in the surrounding area we have a good offer for all those who dare to visit La Manga.

Islands of La Manga

In the Mar Menor there are 5 islands of volcanic origin that arose in the tertiary era and that today are protected landscapes due to their high ecological value. The five islands are Isla Perdiguera, Isla del Barón or Isla Mayor, Isla del Sujeto, Isla Redonda or Rondela and Isla del Ciervo. There are many boat trips that allow you to get to know them a little better. A tip: It is best to make the trip in the afternoon, to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the area.

La Risa Bridge

One of the most emblematic and picturesque places in La Manga is the so-called Puente de la Risa. It is located at the end of La Manga del Mar Menor near the area that was planned as a canal area in the purest Venetian style. In fact, the bridge erected in 1978 imitates the style of the most famous bridges in Venice. The construction, with two very pronounced arches, creates a very high camber in the road that gives both young and old a tingling sensation in their stomachs when they drive over it, and makes many people laugh. We don't know if this was the original name of the bridge or if its name is a product of the effect it provokes. In any case, it is one of the favourite places for visitors to La Manga.

Practising your favourite sport

When it comes to choosing what to do in La Manga, one of the most common answers is sport. La Manga and its surroundings have become, by their own merits, a very popular destination for the so-called active tourists. In the Mar Menor and in the Mediterranean Sea you can practice all kinds of water sports: sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, paddle surfing, kayaking...

Around the Mar Menor there are also several of the best golf courses in Murcia with a very complete offer for both beginners and more advanced players. Cycling, running, tennis, karting and triathlon are other popular sports in the area.

Cabo de Palos

The picturesque fishing village of Cabo de Palos is undoubtedly one of the places to visit in the area. It is located next to La Manga, just at the entrance and the turn-off is clearly signposted at the roundabout before the access to La Manga.

The Cabo de Palos Marine Reserve hides some of the most sought-after aquatic treasures for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Cabo de Palos is a perfect place for scuba diving, thanks to the oceanic poseidonia meadows, the effects of the existence of submarine shallows and the mildness of its temperature.

The submarine shallows have caused the wrecking of ships from the time of the Phoenicians to the present day. This is a circumstance that, far from scaring divers away, attracts them with the illusion of being able to dive close to emblematic ships such as El Sirio, which was wrecked in 1906.

Calblanque Regional Park

Some of the most spectacular beaches in the Region of Murcia may be found in the Regional Park of Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila. This natural area is also protected, so if you want to access it during the summer season, you should confirm the bus timetable as access by private vehicle is not allowed. The more adventurous or sporty can venture out on foot, but with the heat that tends to prevail during these months, it is not very advisable to do so during the sunny hours. In any case, it is a visit that is well worthwhile and should be highlighted for lovers of nature and freedom.

San Pedro del Pinatar Salt Lakes

In San Pedro del Pinatar, on the other side of La Manga del Mar Menor, there is the possibility of having a mud therapy treatment in the open air. The salt ponds contain very clayey muds which, when applied to the skin, reduce the effects of rheumatism or arthritis. The therapeutic properties of these muds lie in the action of the sun on the excessively salty waters of the Mar Menor. To be effective, the muds must be applied for 7 to 10 days at a time. Everyday hundreds of people make a pilgrimage to the salt flats to treat all kinds of ailments.

What to eat in La Manga Del Mar Menor

There are good restaurants in La Manga and Cabo de Palos where you can enjoy the local gastronomy and order some of the typical dishes of the region of Murcia. Dishes that perfectly combine the quality of the produce from the Murcian market gardens with all the flavour of the sea. Without a doubt, the most representative dish of the Mar Menor is the Caldero.

Caldero del Mar Menor is a dish on the menu of the best restaurants in the area and consists of a rice stew with a strong taste of the sea. The stew is made with ñoras (chorizo peppers), rock fish and a mixture of different fish called morralla. The rock fish is usually served on the side in case the diners want to try it. In some places the rice is accompanied by a little alioli sauce.

Other local delicacies include meat pies, zarangollo or michirones.

How to get to La Manga Del Mar Menor

There are different options for getting to La Manga. The most common is to arrive by car, either your own or rented from Cartagena, where the train arrives, or from Corvera (Murcia Airport). Another option for getting to La Manga del Mar Menor is by bus. There are regular routes from Alicante, Madrid, Murcia and Cartagena.

How to get to La Manga Del Mar Menor by car from Murcia, Cartagena or Alicante

The entrance to La Manga is 70 km from Murcia, by motorway/carriageway which makes the journey time approximately 45 minutes. Leaving Murcia take the A-30 towards Cartagena, at km 40 take exit 180 to join the E-15/AP7 towards Alicante/La Manga. Twelve kilometres further on take exit MU312 towards El Algar/Cabo de Palos/La Manga.

La Manga is less than 30 km from Cartagena and is very well connected, making the journey relatively quick. From the A-30 towards Murcia/Alicante you will immediately see the connection to the CT32 towards La Manga. Once on the CT32 take exit 8A towards La Manga which connects you to the motorway leading to La Manga and Cabo de Palos.

For those coming from the north (Valencia/Alicante) on the AP7, once you have skirted the Mar Menor and passed the Los Alcázares exit, take exit 800 (El Algar/La Manga) which takes you to the MU-312 which is the motorway into La Manga.

Don't hesitate! If you are looking for a complete family plan in the open air and with a multitude of options, La Manga del Mar Menor is the destination you were looking for.