Mar Menor

The Mar Menor is - in spite of its name - Europe's biggest salt water lagoon, and it is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by La Manga, a strip of land which is 22km long. This natural setting has an idyllic microclimate and perfect conditions to enjoy nautical sports. Moreover, here you will find a very particular combination of fishing traditions and modernity, impossible to find anywhere else.

Large pond, Small sea, throughout history, the so-called Mar Menor has had different names, all of which coincide in the description of a phenomenon that nature designed as a great coastal lake (originally, an open bay) of 170 km2 of warm saltwater.

Since distant times, the wealth of its water, the kindness of the climate and the beauty of the area as a whole attracted many people. The Iberians and Phoenicians and, later, the Arabs have a part in the history of the Mar Menor. In the Moslem period, it was known as the Mar Chico, and the place known today as Los Alcázares (from the Arabic Al-Ksar, literally translated as "place of residence") was chosen for their recreational houses. The continuous skirmishes with pirates from Algeria led to the need to construct watchtowers, some of which are conserved today, such as that of El Ramé or Rami. Until the 18th century, the area was occupied only by inhabitants dedicated to fishing and to the exploitation of the salt flats. From the 19th century, these centres gradually became centres for recreation and relaxation for the inhabitants of La Huerta, who established their summer residence next to the coast, attracted mainly by the curative properties of its brackish water.

Even today, the Mar Menor remains faithful to the concept of "residential area" characterised by rest and tranquillity. The warm waters of the Mar Menor, with a maximum depth of 7 metres, hold the ideal conditions and means for those who enjoy open or group sailing. Furthermore, visitors to this area can enjoy all the advantages of the Sailing Station of the Mar Menor, which in keeping with the ski station concept, offers a set of sailing, sports and tourist infrastructures together with hotels, accommodation and establishments for leisure and learning grouped together in one place: the entire Shore area of the Mar Menor and La Manga. This large saltwater lake has ideal climatic conditions (315 days of sunshine per year and an average annual temperature of 18ºC) for the continuous practice of water sports.

Nautical sports
The Mar Menor is one of Spain's most appreciated race courses. Thank to its warm, shallow waters and its mild temperatures, one can enjoy the sunshine and nautical sports 365 days a year. Estación Náutica del Mar Menor-Cabo de Palos provides several schools for you to enjoy sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, SUP paddle, motorboat racing, etc. no matter what your level is and no matter what your age is

Jurassic nature 
Las Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro Regional Park is an unblemished paradise of primitive nature, perfect for those escaping from overcrowding and tourist resorts. At this migrating water bird reserve you can watch flamingos, walk along tracks, take a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean and admire one of the most outstanding coastal sunsets.

Outdoor heath
The Mar Menor is a big open-air spa. Its mild temperatures throughout the year, its many hours of sunshine and its high mineral concentration make it the perfect place for treatments against physical and psychological exhaustion. The coastal thalassotherapy centres offer a wide range of personalised treatments based on sea water (hydrotherapy), sea air (airtherapy) and solar radiation (heliotherapy). Europe's biggest open-air mud therapy area is in San Pedro. It is a big mistake to come here and not to cover oneself with the famous mineral medicinal muds. It is your decision to do it by the lagoon or at the hotels or centres that offer specialised treatments. If you wish to take paradise home, don't forget that you can purchase some mud at thalassotherapy centres.

Sea festivities
Very popular festivities such as the Semana Internacional de la Huerta y el Mar -International Week of the Orchard and the Sea- are celebrated at Mar Menor: this festivity takes place on the second fortnight of August in Los Alcázares, paying homage to the connection that has always existed between the huertanos and the sea. In the same locality, now with a secular character, the Berber Incursions are celebrated in April, and the Day of Caldero -typical rice dish- is celebrated October 12th. In San Pedro del Pinatar, the Holy Week and the Virgen del Carmen Festivities stand out. The second ones are celebrated on August 15th, revealing the connection between the people from this town and the sea, as well as their worship of this virgin that protects fishermen and seamen. The virgin is taken on a procession on the Mar Menor waters; carnations are thrown to pay homage to seamen who never arrived in port. On February 3rd every year, San Blas pilgrimage takes place in San Javier, including a carriage parade and a typical rice contest.

More than a beach bar
During the summer, kiosks and chiringuitos -beach bars- are waiting for you on the beach or, more precisely, on the beaches. You will realise that typical tapas such as octopus, marineras, matrimonios and steamed mussels are much more delicious when you eat them in front of the sea. When the evening falls, some of the chiringuitos at Mar Menor organise parties with live music, turning into night pubs where you can continue to have fun with your friends.

Painted heaven
There is something you can't miss by the Mar Menor: a walk along any of its seafront promenades at dawn, when colours are merged on the horizon. Going along the coast among palm trees and enjoying one of the best gifts of nature is a real pleasure for your senses. When the daybreak show ends, the time has come for you to enjoy a pleasant, refreshing dip. Don't worry if you aren't an early bird: the sunset also offers a light and colour combination that will enrapture you.

Culture by the sea
Mar Menor destinations have various museums from which culture, history and creativity spread in all directions. Among them, for instance, Los Alcázares Aeronautical Museum stands out: it was Spain's first seaplane base and one of the pillars of Spanish Military Aeronautics during the first half of the 20thC; it houses one of the most comprehensive collections related to military aviation, including weapons, military clothing, airplane propellers, antiaircraft guns and hundreds of pictures. In San Javier, the Local History Museum shows objects related to people's family, social and cultural aspects, to the agricultural and fishing traditions and, of course, to the development of aviation. Last but not least, the Barón de Benifayó Palace in San Pedro del Pinatar, housing San Pedro Municipal Museum, is a must. It has exhibitions concerning terrestrial and underwater archaeology, fossils and ethnography. Nevertheless, the most touching elements which are shown belong to the old toy collection and the film material.

Beach festivals
Due to its beauty and nice weather conditions, the Mar Menor has become the natural set of a great number of festivals. San Javier celebrates one of Spain's best jazz music events: San Javier International Jazz Festival. In July, it offers a month of concerts with the most important representatives of this musical genre. In August, the same locality celebrates the Theatre, Music and Dance Festival, which is a meeting point for enthusiasts of these arts, including classical and modern theatre, ethnic music, prestigious soloists, as well as internationally well-known classical and modern dance groups. From January to May every year, the Músicas del Alma Season takes place at Parque Almansa. In San Pedro del Pinatar, on different months during the summer, the Feria de Sevillanas del Mar Menor, the Flamenco Festival and the Folklore Festival are celebrated. Furthermore, all Mar Menor destinations prepare parades, marches and shows for Carnival, and all of them save surprises for Midsummer's Eve.

A couple of strokes
We suggest you enjoy golf next to Mar Menor beaches in the finest Mediterranean style. Many hours of sunshine, together with mild temperatures throughout the year, make this coast the perfect place to enjoy this activity in harmony with the landscape. Just choose your course and be prepared to experience the exclusiveness of our resorts, in a paradise where the golf course green merges with the sea blue.

Taste of the sea 
The Mar Menor dish par excellence is caldero, a truly marine dish made with rice, good fishand a secret ingredient: ñoras. As appetizers, nothing better than salted fish such as hueva -roe- and mojama -salted tuna-, or the exquisite Mar Menor langostines. As a dessert, we suggest pastel de cierva, so that you can try a delicious contrast between the sweet and salted tastes; if you have a sweet tooth, we recommend tocino de cielo. Don't forget that you can enjoy them at restaurants and pastry shops in the area and, in addition, you can buy them as souvenirs. When you're back home, they will make your mouth water and you will definitely miss our region a little bit.

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