Hola! Welcome to La Manga del Mar Menor, a unique place on the Spanish map to which thousands of people looking for sun and fun come every year. Beautiful lagoon on one side and Mediterranean Sea on the other, sandy beaches, 300+ sunny days a year, quiet low season, and vibrant holiday months. Add to that many watersports opportunities, a good number of restaurants, bars, and shops and you’ll get a perfect holiday destination. Stay with us and discover things to do during holidays in La Manga Del Mar Menor Murcia, Spain.
During the spring of 2023 (April-mid May) we lived in La Manga for 6 weeks. During that time we got a chance to get to know it better, as well its surroundings. If you’re a digital nomad and are looking for a quieter place full of sun – La Manga might be a good spot for you. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many things to do in La Manga itself, but don’t worry! In this post, we’ll show you the best options, so you can get the most out of your stay. Ready? Let’s go!
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About La Manga del Mar Menor
La Manga del Mar Menor, or La Manga in short, is located in the Region of Murcia in southern Spain and is divided into two municipalities – Cartagena and San Javier. It’s a narrow piece of land, a spit, that separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor Lagoon. La Manga stretches for approximately 22km and has a width that varies between 200m and 1.5km. It’s cut through by natural channels, so-called “golas”, that keeps water on both sides in contact with each other.
The most dreadful fact about La Manga del Mar Menor is that it was a natural and virgin area until the 1960s. It was back then when development plans to enhance region tourism appeared, construction started, and the area underwent an unnecessary transformation. Today, La Manga is completely urbanized and is considered one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Murcia for sun, beach, relaxation, and watersports.
La Manga can offer beautiful sandy beaches and stunning views on both sides. It’s a place where you can choose if you want to take a dip into calm Mar Menor Lagoon waters or the little mightier Mediterranean Sea.
La Manga del Mar Menor Murcia, Spain FAQ
La Manga is best known for being a popular holiday destination in the Region of Murcia in Spain. It’s renowned for its nice weather all year round, beautiful sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing and relaxation, and many watersports opportunities.
La Manga del Mar Menor means “Sandbar of the Minor Sea”, where Minor Sea means Mar Menor Lagoon.
Depends on the season. During the low-season months, it’s fairly empty and quiet with a population of around 2250 people. During summer months it gets super crowded and busy, and its population “rises” dramatically to as many as 250k!
About Mar Menor Lagoon
Mar Menor is the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe, sometimes called the Spanish Dead Sea. La Manga strip separates it from the Mediterranean Sea. Mar Menor covers an area of 135km², has a coastal length of 70km and its maximum depth is 7m. Lagoon’s waters are crystal clear with perfect transparency and much warmer than the Mediterranean Sea. Along its shores, you’ll find many sandy beaches. In some places, it’s even possible to go about 50m from the shores and still only be standing waist-deep in the water! Mar Menor Lagoon is a paradise for water sports lovers looking for calmer waters.
Yes, you can swim in Mar Menor Lagoon, but prepare yourself to be lightly covered in salt after!
Mar Menor means “smaller sea”. Its name is the opposite of the Mediterranean, which here is called Mar Mayo, meaning “larger sea”
There are few towns located on Mar Menor shores. There’s La Manga, San Pedro del Pinatar, Los Alcazares, San Javier, or Santiago de la Ribera.
Things to do in La Manga Del Mar Menor Murcia, Spain
Cabo de Palos
Cabo de Palos is a small village and a nature reserve located right at the entrance to La Manga. The area is most famous for its 51m high lighthouse, Faro Cabo de Palos, which came into service in 1865 and can be seen from almost 40km! While near the lighthouse take a nice stroll among its areas and admire the view across all of La Manga from the Mediterranean side. Cabo de Palos is also a very popular place for swimming and scuba diving, as it’s dotted with reefs, small coves, and sunken boats!
Veneziola & Steep Bridge
At the very end of La Manga del Mar Menor, you’ll find Veneciola, a very peculiar area with a network of canals, a Venetian bridge, a large islet in the center, and residential buildings. It was designed to look like a small Venice, hence the name. To be honest, the most interesting thing there is the Steep Bridge (es. Puente de la Rise). It was built in 1978 and resembles the style of bridges in Venice. As its name suggests, the bridge is very steep, and getting across might be either very fun or quite uncomfortable, depending on the form of transport!
Also, if you’re looking for a more quiet place without huge crowds you should check out this area. This is where we lived and despite some downsides, we really appreciated its peacefulness and quiet time on Veneziola Beach.
La Manga Beaches
Heading to one of many La Manga beaches is definitely the best thing to do in the area. You can choose from beaches located either on the lagoon or a sea side. Some of them will be busier, some more peaceful (especially ones at the end of La Manga). Don’t limit yourself only to the beach near your accommodation, go for a ride and look for more nice places.
For peaceful crystal clear waters choose Mar Menor side. For more dramatic scenery and higher waves head to the Mediterranean side. Amenities depend on the beach, some of them are fully prepared, and on some, you’ll only find showers. We became huge fans of the lagoon side, mostly because it reminded us of wonderful times around Lake Geneva in France.
Some of the best La Manga del Mar Menor beaches include Playa Veneziola, Playa del Barco Perdido, Playa de Marchamalo, Playa de Cavanna, Cala del Pino, Playa Ensenada del Esparto, Playa del Estacio and Playa del Pedrucho.
Practice watersports in Mar Menor or the Mediterranean
Both sides of La Manga del Mar Menor are a paradise for watersports enthusiasts. The Mar Menor side offers calm and shallow waters perfect for beginners, while the Mediterranean side offers higher waves and more extreme conditions. Paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and more… Choice is really wide, and surely everyone will find something for themselves.
You can also rent a boat or a jet ski, or go on one of many offered boat trips. Great chance to admire La Manga from another angle and get closer to volcanic islands.
Islands of La Manga
From La Manga shores you can admire some islands of volcanic origin that have been named as protected areas due to their ecological value. Five islands are located in Mar Menor (Isla del Baron, Isla Perdiguera, Isla del Ciervo, Isla del Sujeto, and Isla Redonda or Rondela), and a few more on the Mediterranean side (Isla Grosa, Farallon Islet, and Islas Hormigas). It’s not possible to visit the islands due to the protection of its ecosystem. Although it’s possible to go on a boat trip which will take you closer to them, or scuba dive in the area.
Things to do near La Manga Del Mar Menor Murcia, Spain
Calblanque Regional Park
Calblanque Regional Park (es. Parque Regional de Calblanque) is located only about 7km from La Manga. If you wish to spend some time in nature – this is the place. Fossil dunes, sandy beaches, hidden bays, cliffs… It’s a perfect place for sunbathing in tranquil surroundings. Be sure to check out beautiful Playa Negrete and Playas de Calblanque, and don’t forget to bring food and drinks as there is nothing to buy nearby.
Keep in mind that during high season access to Calblanque Regional Park by car is limited and as soon as the parking is full, the road is closed. After that, the only way to get to the beaches is by public bus which costs €3.5 for a return ticket (July 2023).
Regional Park of the Salinas and Sand Area of San Pedro del Pinatar
On the other side of La Manga, in San Pedro del Pinatar town, you’ll find the Regional Park of the Salinas and Sand Area (es. Parque Regional de las Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar). It’s a large protected natural coastal reserve with salt flats and sand dunes where many migratory birds can be spotted. The area is also famous for mud baths which are supposed to help with rheumatism or arthritis. It’s a peaceful area where you can enjoy one of the beaches, go for a lazy stroll, and just enjoy beautiful natural views.
If golf is your game, there’s quite a wide range of courses to choose from near La Manga del Mar Menor. We’re not specialists in the topic so we’ll just leave you the names of the most popular ones: La Manga Club, Lo Romero Golf Club, Roda Golf & Beach Resort, and Las Colinas Golf & Country Club.
One-day trips from La Manga Del Mar Menor, Spain
Are you hungry for some cool one-day trips from La Manga? We got you! Here are some cool suggestions, all max 1.5h away from La Manga if you’ll be traveling by car.
Cartagena is located about 30km from La Manga. Thanks to its strategic location on the coast, the area has been praised since Carthaginian times, around 220 B.C. The city developed most during Roman times, which effects we can observe to this day. In Cartagena, you’ll find many Roman ruins, including a spectacular 1st-century B.C. Roman Theater, Casa de la Fortuna – villa with murals and mosaics, or Punic Wall – an interpretation center that houses the remains of a 3rd-century B.C. defensive wall.
Learn more: 15+ Best Things To Do In Cartagena, Spain
Alicante is located about 130km from La Manga. Thanks to a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters with lots of sunshine this city is a very popular travel destination, both during summer and winter months. And no wonder because it has a lot to offer! From charming Old Town, hilltop castle, and Mushroom Street to many cultural attractions, vivid nightlife, delicious Mediterranean food, and great beaches.
Bateria de Castillitos
Bateria de Castillitos is located about 60km from La Manga. It’s a very unique-looking anti-navy military battery built in the 1930s. It looks more like a medieval-fairytale-style castle put out from a Disney movie than a mighty military base. It’s located on a high mountain, overlooking the sea and the surroundings. It isn’t very easy to get there, and the road might be a little bumpy, narrow, and stressful but without a doubt it’s very rewarding!
Murcia is located about 70km from La Manga. It offers more of a small-town vibe, and it’s nowhere as busy as nearby big cities like Alicante or Benidorm, so it’s a great option if you wanna escape crowds. There you’ll find many lovely streets and squares, impressive Catedral de Murcia and Palacio Episcopal, some street art, and delicious cuisine.
Learn more: 15+ Best Things To Do In Murcia City In Spain
How to get to La Manga Del Mar Menor, Spain?
Where to park in La Manga?
If you’re traveling by car you can choose from many parking spaces available in different places along La Manga. If memory serves us right, they were all free, but we can only imagine how hard it is to find a spot during high season. Your best option is to stay in a hotel/apartment with a dedicated parking spot.
Airports near La Manga
The closest airport to La Manga is located in Murcia City, about 55km away. The next one is located in Alicante, about 120km away. Both airports offer bus connections to La Manga. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To La Manga by bus
You can reach La Manga by bus. For example, a trip from Cartagena will take about 50min (€6-9) and 45min from Murcia (€5-16). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To La Manga by train
Unfortunately, there is no train station in La Manga del Mar Menor. The closest one is located in Cartagena, about 30km away, and from there you can take a bus or taxi to La Manga.
La Manga del Mar Menor camping
If you’re traveling by camper, Camping Caravaning Capfun La Manga might interest you most as it’s located right at the entrance to La Manga. Camping Mar Menor is located near San Pedro del Pinatar town. During our stay in the area, we spotted many wild-standing vans, especially in the Veneziola area.
Holidays In La Manga Del Mar Menor Murcia, Spain – Summing up
As you can see now, La Manga Del Mar Menor and the whole Mar Menor area is a great spot for a typical holiday. Beautiful beaches, blue waters, and some places for day trips for more active tourists. What more could you want?
Our opinion about La Manga Del Mar Menor
We lived in La Manga for 6 weeks in the Veneziola area, so at the very end of the strip. We liked and hated it at the same time. What did we like? Quiet area, no crowds, peaceful beaches, relaxing walks, beautiful views… What we didn’t like? The fact that to exit La Manga we had to drive for 30 minutes, and the same to go back to the apartment – 1 hour wasted. After a few times, it just got really boring and annoying. Also, we didn’t like the store next door so we had to make this route to Mercadona once a week just to do grocery shopping, which was quite a journey in itself.
So here’s our tip for you: if you like sightseeing and going on trips – don’t choose the very end of La Manga. If you’re looking for a fairly peaceful area for holidays and don’t plan to move too much – don’t hesitate and look for an apartment there.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in La Manga del Mar Menor?
Here are your best, high-rated options in La Manga del Mar Menor:
Where to sleep in La Manga del Mar Menor?
El Remanso is a charming apartament located in La Manga just a few steps from the beaches. Guests can enjoy a nice views over Mar Menor and Mediterranean. Apartament features a balcony, comfortable bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room. Outdoor swimming pool is available on site.
WONDER2SEA is a stylish and comfortable accommodation option in La Manga offering a perfect blend of style, comfort, and proximity to the beach. With its modern design and well-appointed rooms, guests can enjoy a relaxing and luxurious stay. The property's location near the beach allows easy access to the pristine sandy shores, making it an ideal choice for beach lovers.
Konk Hostel is a vibrant and lively hostel located in the beautiful area of La Manga, Spain. With its fun and energetic atmosphere, it's a perfect choice for travelers looking for a social and interactive experience. The hostel offers comfortable and affordable accommodations, including dormitory-style rooms and private rooms. Guests can also enjoy the communal areas, such as the terrace and shared kitchen.
ShoreHouse Seafront Apartment
ShoreHouse is a beachfront apartment located in La Manga. Offering direct access to the beach, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the sea. The apartment is spacious and well-equipped, providing all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay, including a fully equipped kitchen, cozy living area, and a private balcony overlooking the beach.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com