O Costa Calida
This is the touristic name of the region in southern Spain on the Mediterranean coast. The area, characterized by a mild and warm climat, is visited by many tourists every year. There are 18 marinas, 26 nautical clubs, 20 sailing schools, 2 motorboat and water skiing centres, 2 more canoeing rental and 15 diving centres.
250 km of beautiful white sand beaches, picturesque bays and recipitous cliffs that descend steeply towards the Mediterranean Sea forming the coast of the Region of Murcia. The part of the coast, from the fishing village of Águilas in the south to the town of El Mojón in San Pedro del Pinatar in the north, encourades crowds of beach lovers and swimmers, sailors, fishermen and divers.
The perfect area for rest all year round, especially because of the climate with with warm, rainless summers and mild winters. The average annual temperature varies between 18-20ºC, but it should be remembered that it was here that the heat record was exceeded – the temperature above 45 in summer. During the winter days, temperatures reach up to 20ºC at noon, but short-term rains or snowfalls usually also appear. In the spring and autumn, rains occur, only about 300 mm per year, but this makes the entire region turn green. Apart from that, the sun shines all the time in the blue sky, more than 3,000 hours a year.
In the northern part of the region there is small and relatively shallow Mar Menor, almost completely separated from the Mediterranean by a coastline called La Manga. In this incredible area, two completely different water mixes and blends naturally.
A salty lagoon, separated by a littoral cord of the Mediterranean Sea, is the largest in Spain. Its surface covers 135 square kilometers, and the maximum depth does not exceed 7 m. There are several small islands of volcanic origin. The waters of this lagoon are warmer and more salty than those of the Mediterranean, and are well protected from the high stormy waves. It is a perfect place to rest with young children and practice water sports. Due to the specific characteristics of this lagoon, almost the entire area is protected as a habitat for several species of fauna and flora and the breeding of waterfowl. Recently it was possible to find seahorses swimming in the waters of this sea, and currently all activities being carried out to rebuild their population.
It is a medium-sized herbivorous fish of the mugilid family, commonly found on the border between the two seas: the Mediterranean and the Menor. It enjoys great popularity in local cuisine thanks to the excellent flavor qualities of meat and roe. From the fish caught, the eggs are extracted, and then salty is dried in the sun and wind. Cut into thin slices and served with almonds is considered a gourmet dish in the area.
CALDERO DE MAR MENOR
One of the most popular dishes of the region, prepared by fishermen directly on the beach in a pot hanging on a tripod over the fire. The basis ingredients of this dish is rice with fish and seafood, which due to its small size or low market value was not suitable for sale.
LA MANGA (THE SLEEVE)
This is a narrow and long spit formed as the coastal littoral in the Cenozoic as a result of the accumulation of marine sediments at the base of the seabed between Cabo de Palos and San Pedro del Pinatar. Its total length is 21 km and its width varies from 100 to 1200 m. The seabed is crossed by several channels that allow the exchange of water between two marine basins and the flow of vessels. In the Encanizada area, it is used for traditional mujol fishing. Until the sixteenth century, this area was covered with a thick vegetation formed by a juniper, but was razed by order of King Philip II to prevent the Berber pirates from taking advantage of its thicket to hide in it. Until today the remains of natural vegetation of dunes have survived in the National Park of Salinas and Arenales of San Pedro del Pinatar. In the second half of the 20th century, La Manga was almost completely urbanized with hotels and apartment buildings for tourists, and a fast road passes through its center. The number of people in recent decades has increased significantly, but the culmination is in the summer when more than 200,000 tourists live on this small piece of land.
SALINAS (THE SALT MARSH).
The salty waters of the Mar Menor have been used since Roman times to obtain sea salt. In several sedimentary pools, connected by channels, during the hot and sunny summer, the water evaporates and in the background is deposited the salt, called here the White Gold. Along with the change in the salinity of the water, its color ranges from turquoise to intense pink, which offers incredible views. Here you can find numerous herds of waterfowl, such as flamingos, which walk through the water and feed throughout the day. The area of the salt marsh is surrounded by a the bike path and the hiking trail. At its southern end there are mud ponds.
At the bottom of sedimentary salt ponds is deposited a black and mineral-rich precipitate. During a research carried out by the University of Murcia in the 90s, it was confirmed that the high content of calcium, sodium, sulfur, fluorine, magnesium and potassium in these sediments has healing properties and, therefore, is easily used in the treatment of many diseases. This sediment, applied directly to the skin in the form of mud, is rinsed during bathing in the sea. In the vicinity of the mud baths, there are hotels and spa centers.
REGIONAL PARK OF SALINAS AND ARENALES OF SAN PEDRO DEL PINATAR
It is a wetland with sandy areas considered as a protected natural reserve since 1985 and has an area of 856 ha. Currently, this picturesque park is part of the European system of nature protection (RAMSAR, ZEPA, ZEPIM, Natura2000). Visitors will find here a information center with a small exhibition, several trails, water bird watching spots and beautiful sandy beaches.
CABO DE PALOS (CAPE OF STICKS)
It is a rocky cape located at a strategic point on the Mediterranean coast, at the base of the sandbank of La Manga, at the point up where Sierra Minera and Calblanque extend. In this region there are many rocks and islets of volcanic origin that represent a danger for the ships that pass through here. Divers are eager to dive into the surrounding waters to visit many shipwrecks and admire the underwater nature; this is one of the best diving destinations in Europe. As early as the 16th century, there was an observation tower at the Cape, which was rebuilt in a lighthouse in the middle of the 19th century. In August of 1906, an Italian transatlantic, that took the emigres to America, sank in these waters causing the death of hundreds of people.
CALBLANQUE NATURAL PARK
The nature protection area that stretches along the sea between Cartagena and Cabo de Palos was created to protect the biodiversity of this region and numerous endemic species. In this area, apart from the majestic mountains of Sierra Minera, whose cliffs fall abruptly into the Mediterranean Sea, there are many wild beaches, dunes, salty lakes, salt flats and picturesque coves .
SIERRA MINERA (MOUNTAIN OF MINING)
A mountain range that extends along 26 km between Cartagena and Cabo de Palos and reaches a maximum height of 430 m above sea level, thanks its name to numerous mines that have their beginning in antiquity. The Carthaginians, Phoenicians and Romans already began the exploitation of silver and lead, which contributed significantly to the development of the nearby port of Cartagena. However, due to the low profitability, its exploitation was suspended and, with the development of new technologies in the 20th century, the intensive extraction of pyrite, magnetite and lead was resumed. This contributed to the total ecological degradation of the large area and in 1990 extraction was suspended, which initiated a slow recovery process.
BATERÍA DE LAS CENIZAS (BATTERY OF ASHES)
One of the fortifications, what was forms the defense network of Cartagena, was built in the 1930s on a coastal hill in Calblanque. A tourist trail leads to the top where they can enjoy beautiful views of the area.
LA UNION MINING PARK
In the town of La Unión, one of the underground mines is open to the public. The well-preserved devices and machines used in the last century perfectly illustrate the work of the miners at this time. Inside the mine, in a large grotto on the lower level, there is a stage, where the flamenco festival is held every summer. Flamenco music and dance came to this region together with the miners of Andalusia and their families who still live in neighboring villages.
This is a small mining town, although it was mainly a fishing port located on the shore of the bay with the same name. Currently, the town is far from the sea, because the bay has been flooded with waste from the mines. This is one of the areas of ecological disaster caused by intensive mining. In this area they can see numerous mine shafts and huge holes in the excavated mountains.
The port city located in the Gulf of the Mediterranean was founded in antiquity around 200 BC. The Carthaginians were the founders of the city, but its growth and development the locality owns mainly to the Romans, who had established it as the capital of the province and increased the economic importance of the port. Many constructions of that time have been conserved and slowly they are discovered and made available to the visitors. The most famous are undoubtedly the Roman Theater, the Roman Forum, the Punica Wall. In the modern era, on top of the hills, which surround the port, has been built a network of the military fortresses and refuges, and some of them are available to the public (Castillo de la Concepción). There are many interesting tourist routes around the city that show the richness of this port (baroque, modernist and eclectic). Currently, Cartagena is a large maritime port, an important economic, cultural, administrative and scientific center of the region.
FIELD OF CARTAGENA
A coastal plain, with fertile land and agricultural use extends around the city. It is an area with intensive cultivation of vegetables and citrus. A typical element of the local landscape are the windmills recognized as a Well of Cultural Interest. They have been used since ancient times for the extraction of water and for the milling of flour and salt.
CABEZO GORDO (THE FAT HEAD)
In the center of the plains of Campo de Cartagena, a mountain rises to a height of more than 300 m above sea level. Due to the existence of several species of African flora and the anthropological site of the Neanderthals (Sima de las Palomas) in the local caves, the entire area is protected. Here is mined the marble, from which were made the elements of many buildings in nearby Cartagena.
SIERRA DE LA MUELA
Extending to the south of Cartagena, the coastal mountain range grows from the Mediterranean Sea to more than 600 m in height. It is one of the places of greater ecological importance of the southeast, which due to the great biodiversity and the presence of many endemic species, is in process of legislation destined to the creation here a national park, although it is already within the systems international protection of nature.
At the maritime bottom, in the vicinity of this cape, there is a natural underwater reserve created to protect the enormous wealth and biological diversity of the area. Like Cabo de Palos, it is one of the most important diving centers on the Spanish coast.
BATTERY OF CASTILLITOS
The complex of military fortifications was built in Cabo Tiñoso around the 1930s. The fort played an important role during the Spanish Civil War. Since 1997, it has been abandoned by the army and has become a treasure trove of culture shared by visitors. The building that looks like a medieval castle rises to a height of 250 m above the sea.
An enchanted fishing village thanks to the beautiful sandy beaches located in the bay of the same name, is visited by more than one hundred thousand tourists every summer. In the area were found the archaeological sites of the Paleolithic (Cabezo de Plomo) and numerous shipwrecks of antiquity (Phoenician Ship) until the modern age, which presents the long and interesting history of the region. Although the mining of lead, iron, zinc and silver played an important role in the development of this town, now the basis of its economy forms agriculture, fishing and, of course, tourism. Nature lovers can be tempted by a boat trip to meet numerous dolphins and sea turtles.
The tourist town near Mazarrón is known mainly for its incredible rock formations carved by the wind in the sedimentary rocks of the nearby hills. The whole complex is called Gredas.
In the bay of Mazarrón, at the southern end of the Costa Calida, located in a picturesque place among the coastal hills, is the city of Águilas, on which stands the castle of San Juan from the 16th century. The history of the city goes back to prehistory and the Roman era, but from modern times there have been traces in the form of the railway line and the pier Embarcadero del Hornillo. Nearby is the most beautiful bay in the world, forming part of the protected landscape area Cuatro Calas with easy access for tourists.
Águilas is famous above all for the marvelous carnival parades that can surpass those of the Canary Islands. This is one of the most spectacular events in Spain, visited by thousands of tourists. Different kinds of performances, contests, parades, dances and songs are heard throughout the city during the day and at night.
This small, exquisite and demanded crustacean is undoubtedly the best flagship product of Águilas. Freshly caught, carefully transported to the ground, they go to the kitchen, where they pass through the griddle and sprinkle with coarse salt. Tasting it with a glass of a white wine is absolute pleasure.