Although there’s little seasonal variation in temperature, Murcia is sparsely populated and relatively unaffected by heavy tourism; as a result, it’s a family-friendly alternative to neighbouring resorts. With white, gently sloping beaches and warm and pleasant waters, this coastline is perfect for those seeking a healthy outdoor life in beautiful tranquil surroundings.
The dry plains of Murcia’s inland contrast the well-irrigated, fertile ‘huerta’ – orchard lands – at the joining of the Segura and Guadalentín rivers. The coastline includes the Mar Menor, Europe’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon. The seawater there is warm and shallow. The beaches slope, making them ideal for families with young children or anyone avoiding waves.
The capital is the university city of Murcia, which, though rich with culture, isn’t thick with throngs of tourists. In fact, the whole of the Costa Cálida has escaped the intense coastal development of both the Costa Blanca and Costa Brava.
The most convenient airports are the busy Alicante or the closer Murcia-San Javier (or its planned replacement: Region de Murcia International Airport – due to open next year).
From sailing to whale watching to scuba diving, there are a plethora of peaceful ways to spend your leisure time. The towns are full of baroque architecture, fortresses and relics, like the impressively preserved Roman theatre in Cartagena. Murcia city’s Terra Natura Zoo is acclaimed for its humane approach and preservation of some of Spain’s indigenous species. Caravaca de la Cruz, in the northwest of the region, is one of the five holy cities of Catholicism, meaning it’s been chosen to celebrate the Holy Year every seven years. Then there’s the Entierro de la Sardina, where, at the end of Carnival, an effigy of a sardine is ‘buried’ in flames.
Stretching 250 km across the glorious Mediterranean coastline, the Costa Cálida, or ‘Warm Coast’, is named after its ‘just right’ climate. With white, gently sloping beaches and warm and pleasant waters, this coastline is perfect for those seeking an outdoor lifestyle in beautiful tranquil surroundings.
Nestled along the edge of the region of Murcia in the southeast corner of Spain, Costa Cálida enjoys average annual temperatures of 20ºC (rarely falling below 18ºC) and has less than 40 days of rain per year. Two seas meet along this coastline – the Mediterranean and the Mar Menor. If you are someone who prioritises health and wellbeing this could be the place for you. The Mar Menor sea inlet, Europe’s biggest saltwater lagoon, is believed to have great curative properties for ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis. This isn’t the only good news for those seeking to take care of their health and well-being, as the World Health Organisation also pronounced the province of Murcia the cleanest area in Spain with the least industrial pollution.
The mineral-rich waters of the Mar Menor aren’t the only way to stay healthy in Costa Cálida however, as there is also an array of world-class sports facilities to choose from. Perhaps the best known among these is the La Manga club, a 5-star luxury sports resort specialising in golf. You can also find horse-riding, dive schools, windsurfing, sailing, and canoeing all available at various locations along the Costa Cálida.
All these activities tend to work up an appetite and there’s great news for foodies, as the fertile plains of Costa Cálida produce a vast and colourful array of fruit and veg which all find their way into the local cuisine. Seafood lovers need look no further, with both the Mar Menor and Mediterranean offering up their mariscos (seafood) in abundance. You will also be spoilt for choice with plentiful farmed meat from the nearby mountains – and don’t forget to sample some of the fine wines from nearby Jumilla.
Featured towns in Costa Cálida (Murcia province)
In this order: La Manga del Mar Menor, Mazarron, San Pedro Del Pinatar, San Javier, Lo Pagan, Santiago de la Ribera, Los Alcazares, La Torre Golf Resort.
La Manga del Mar Menor
La Manga del Mar Menor is a resort on a thin strip of land that crosses the Mediterranean between the cities of San Javier and Cartagena on the Costa Cálida.
La Manga del Mar Menor is a smart, neat and modern resort with restorative claims, due to its rich mineralised lagoons and lakes.
La Manga del Mar Menor is a thin strip of land covering 24 kilometers from Cabo de Palos to the Punta del Mojón across the Mediterranean Sea, enclosed in a body of water. This waveless, shallow sea water lagoon is warm and incredibly salty, making it a popular with those after the health benefits of a mineral-rich swim, a safe bathing spot for families, or beginners practicing water sports.
Several nautical schools use the inner beaches of the lagoon, offering sailing and water-skiing classes. On the other side, facing out towards the Mediterranean Sea, are vast swaths of sand. The beaches are so big that they feel less busy. Something to consider in a place that swells from 10,000 residents to 200,000 in tourist season.
La Manga means ‘sleeve’ in Spanish; this sleeve of land was created by two encroaching volcanic reefs eventually connecting with one another. It was greenfield land until the 1960’s but now plays host to apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants, bars, boutiques and the beautiful Tomas Maestre Marina.
In the warm, dry summers, there is a lively atmosphere with bustling diners, dancers and revellers. However, the underwater habitats to the south are protected in the Reserva Marina de Cabo de Palos e Islas Hormigas, which is only accessible to approved visitors.
This part of Murcia is known for its flat plains and orchard-like abundance. All these local fresh fruits and vegetables make for a varied cuisine plus the wines from Jumilla and Yecla are well known throughout Spain.
Sports fans might like to visit La Manga Football Stadium, which occasionally plays host to international teams or La Manga Club, a famously high-spec golf club and sports center.
The Mar Menor area has many small traditional villages which have not been affected by the tourism in the region and are popular with expats who are keen to live near La Manga but still off the beaten track.
La Manga has many affordable modern apartment complexes aimed at both tourists and permanent residents. Those with wanting a little extra can buy a seriously luxurious detached property. Some building restrictions prevent high-rise or excessive construction but many of the surrounding villages and urbanisations also offer villas and townhouses.
The nearest airport is Murcia International and there are various connection routes from there. For direct travel, a bus or car are most direct, although there are train stations in nearby Torre-Pacheco and Cartagena.
The Centro De Salud Costa Cálida medical centre is on the Plaza Hacienda Dos Mares towards the north end of the strip, where you will also find 3 dentists. There are hospitals in both Cartagena and San Javier.
Cost of Living
This is a place where property ranges from the very reasonable to the very expensive. The same goes for living costs. Whether you want to eat in grand restaurants, pay for high-end sports facilities and luxury villas or want a rural, traditionally Spanish town with traditional Spanish prices, there is something for every budget.
Puerto de Mazarron is a harbour town on the Costa Cálida to the west of Cartagena in the province of Murcia. It is a well-kept secret of travellers who are ‘in the know’ and expats looking for pristine, warm waters.
Puerto de Mazarron developed as the harbour for the inland town of Mazarron. The Romans first used it and then in the 19th century miners relied on it for shipping mineral extracts. These days it doubles as a busy fishing port for tuna boats. When tourism hit Spain in the 1960’s, Puerto de Mazarron grew to meet the needs of travellers seeking the long, dry summers of the Murcia region. However, the development concentrated around the Marina, so the coastline remains unspoilt; the World Health Organisation named it the cleanest spot in Spain (with the lowest rates of industrial pollution) in the mid 1980’s. The area continues to garner this reputation especially with the continued careful maintenance of its Blue Flag beaches.
This area typically gets over 300 days of sunshine over the year, which is great for both sunbathing and swimming – with water temperatures reaching a balmy 20ºc in the height of summer. With no less than 6 beaches within its boundaries, Puerto de Mazarron has plenty to offer. From the family friendly, shallow waters of Playa de la Isla, to the buzzing atmosphere of the Playa de Bolnuevo. Beach Soccer is a major draw, with matches being played late into the evening on the Playa de la Reya. Water sports enthusiasts will find everything from scuba diving to kayaking.
Inland Mazarron is a traditional Spanish town, well known for its architectural and archaeological heritage. In nearby Bolnuevo there are remarkable natural formations in the rock known as the Gredas de Bolnuevo erosions. The Mirador del Cabezo del Gavilancoastal boardwalk offers views sweeping the Mediterranean and a Roman villa and a salt-fish sauce factory turned museum sits behind the fishing port. The largest fiesta is the Virgen del Carmenwhere fishing boats take the Virgin out to sea.
Puerto de Mazarron attracts both Spanish and Northern European tourists. It’s particularly popular with British second-home buyers who want to visit outside of the busy summer season to get away from it all while enjoying the quiet sunshine of spring and autumn.
There’s a high density of apartments here, from studios to duplex and even triplexes meeting the needs of larger families. There are also plenty of modern villas and one-storey bungalows.
The town is scattered with suitable amenities. From banks to pharmacies, there is everything you need.
There are both a central bus station and taxi rank in Puerto de Mazarron. The local bus service runs around the town and to Mazarron and back. There are coaches to Almeria, Madrid, Camposol, Luca and Cartagena (with stops along the way). The nearest airport is Murcia International and with Alicante a little further afield. Both of which are reachable in just over an hour by road.
Puerto de Mazarrón Health Center is located on Calle Sierra del Carche and there’s a dental clinic on Avenida Tierno Galvan. SUAP Mazarrón in Mazarron offers emergency services, and the nearest hospital is in Cartagena.
Cost of Living
Housing is excellent value in this resort and the costs of entertainment and eating out are low too.
San Pedro Del Pinatar
San Pedro del Pinatar is the northernmost town on the Mar Menor – the lagoon on the Costa Cálida in Murcia – and on the border with Alicante.
With both the warm waters of the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean to offer, plenty of lively cultural activities and abounding natural resources this area is perfect for outdoor adventurers.
With a name meaning St Peter of the Pine Woods, it’ll come as no surprise that you’ll find a delicate balance between the cultural and natural world here. From excellent amenities to the warm, shallow beaches, San Pedro has been a popular destination town for royalty and noblemen since the area became a designated natural health cure in the nineteenth century.
Beaches like Playa de la Torre, Llana beach and El Mojon face the Mediterranean Sea head on, and offer excellent water sports facilities. By contract, the Mar Menor beaches, protected by a bank of sand, are perfect for bathers. Las Charcas are warm lakes where people take restorative mud baths. The Salinas y Arenales is a coastal nature reserve of salt flats and sand dunes where migratory birds such as flamingos stop in.
Salt has been farmed in San Pedro Del Pinatar since Roman settlers arrived, which combined with fishing, have made it a prosperous area. There’s a small port and many Spanish-owned second homes. Since the influx of international tourists, the permanent population has more than doubled. There’s rich bounty: the plains in Murcia are fertile with fruit, vegetables, nuts, vines, and rice. There is a regular fish market in Lo Pagán, a weekly Monday market and a periodic flea market nicknamed El Sal. The popular festival, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrates the bond between the Pinatarenses (locals) and the sea where people drop carnations into the water in memory of seafarers who didn’t make it back to port.
The swelling community in San Pedro del Pinatar mostly consists of Northern Europeans looking for year-round sunshine (325 days on average per year). It’s very popular with families as the beaches are so safe, there are excellent sports facilities and there is such an array of environments and activities to enjoy out of doors — from coastal walkways to wreck diving.
Where the Spanish coastline turns from east to south, the weather warms up and property gets cheaper. Even the famous luxury sporting resort of La Manga is more affordable than in some of the Costas. You can get bargain apartments in golf resorts, including Camposol and the several Polaris World resorts. Alternatively, there are great value modern villas and townhouses within San Pedro del Pinatar itself.
The town centre has flat, quiet roads that are easy to navigate. There is a police station, leisure and youth centre, several grocers and supermarkets and a shopping centre in nearby Cartagena called Espacio Mediterraneo.
You’re only 25 minutes by car to Cartagena and 35 minutes from Murcia and Región de Murcia International Airport (which has replaced the closer San-Javier airport). Murcia has a train station that can take you as far as Orihuela, or coaches travelling to Cartagena. From there, there are bus routes via Torrevieja or La Manga to San Pedro del Pinatar.
The Centro de Salud on the Avenida de las Salinas is the chief medical centre in the town. It offers GP appointments and has a 24-hour emergency service. LG Dental and Centro Dental Pinatar are both highly recommended dental practices. The town is surrounded by hospitals in Torrevieja, Cartagena, Orihuela and Murcia.
Cost of Living
Murcia’s average property price is almost half that of neighbouring Alicante and nearly a third of Malaga’s beachside resorts. Its appeal is growing with families as there are so many low cost outdoor activities as well as plentiful Spanish produce — which is much cheaper than international food brands.
Uniquely situated in Spain’s south west, this stretch of coast enjoys the especially warm waters of the Mar Menor and is surrounded by stunning natural habitats.
With access to the increasingly popular Costa Cálida and within easy reach of Murcia, San Javier offers a stunning climate, the great outdoors and the best of Spanish culture.
Until recently you might have only known San Javier as the location of Murcia airport and the gateway to the Costa Cálida (the warm coast). The airport’s closure in early 2019 and relocation half an hour to the west means a greater appreciation for the town’s other benefits is now possible. Not least of these is the proximity to the glorious Mar Menor, a stretch of calm lagoon water insulated from the Mediterranean by a long, narrow strip of land, which makes for an excellent alternative to the busy beaches of the Costa Blanca.
In San Javier you will find a modern, well organised town with excellent shops, cafes and restaurants. This is a town built on agriculture and you won’t struggle to find fine fresh fruit and veg here; try the local specialty, Caldero, a dish of rice and fresh fish spiced with ñoras, a sun-dried pepper grown in the Murcia region. People are drawn to the area for the excellent climate, cultural events like the annual jazz festival as well as golf and water sports facilities.
The past few decades have seen San Javier grow from tiny coastal village to a thriving town, whose location has attracted expats from Europe and beyond. Although now an important tourist destination, San Javier maintains its original identity as a centre for agriculture and fishing.
Until recently San Javier and the surrounding area was a cheap alternative to the nearby Costa Blanca. Apartments, villas and townhouses are still cheaper, but prices have risen in recent years.
You’ll find a great blend of old and new in San Javier. A traditional weekly market sells the region’s bountiful produce every Thursday and the modern Dos Mares shopping mall can be found on the outskirts of town and includes cinema and bowling. Golfers will want to visit the 18-hole Roda course and water sports enthusiasts will be able to dive or parasail to their heart’s content in the Mar Menor.
Although the airport is now a half hour’s drive away, San Javier is still accessible by a number of fast roads. For those without their own transport, a wide range of bus services connect you with the local towns and the regional capital Murcia.
Many people are drawn to the San Javier area for its air quality and the climate of the Mar Menor, with the healing mud baths at Lo Pagan just a few minutes drive away. If you need something more than mud and sun, the town has two medical centres and the municipality’s hospital Los Arcos del Mar Menor is on the edge of town.
Cost of living
You’ll find life in San Javier a little more reasonable than the more touristy Costa Blanca and with property prices also a little lower, this is a good option for anyone looking to stick to a budget.
The coastal town of Lo Pagan, on the Costa Cálida overlooks the Mar Menor, Europe’s biggest saltwater lagoon.
Move to this beautiful coastal resort to spend your days basking in the Mediterranean sun or wallowing in the mineral-rich muds of the Mar Menor.
Located around an hour away from Alicante airport, Lo Pagan is a coastal town which overlooks the Mar Menor, Europe’s biggest saltwater lagoon. Lo Pagan is the beachside development of San Pedro Del Pinatar, a large coastal town on the Costa Cálida. This part of Spain enjoys long months of sunshine in the summer and mild winters, making it a popular destination for holidaymakers.
The town is perhaps most famous for its mineral-rich mud baths, which attract visitors from far and wide hoping to enjoy the revivifying effects of an afternoon of wading and daubing themselves in black, sun-warmed clays. These clays are touted to provide relief to a wide range of ailments, from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism, to skin problems such as acne. This might be down to the high mineral content, which includes calcium, magnesium and potassium. The good news for those looking to buy property is that these mud baths are absolutely free, meaning you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits year-round, although not everyone will brave the muds during the winter months!
If you tire of mud and find yourself craving sand, you’re in luck, as Lo Pagan has a fantastic beach complete with beautiful palm-lined promenade. Head north along the shoreline to the San Pedro Marina where you can find shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and clubs. Why not round off an afternoon shopping and sunbathing with dinner and a cocktail or two?
Venture beyond the Marina to the famous Salinas (salt lakes), a protected area which is home to some amazing wildlife including flamingos; watch them skimming the waters for the shrimp that give them their characteristic color.
This area is popular with native Spanish buyers, northern Europeans and British expats; it has a strong community spirit that can be felt at the many festivals and fiestas that take place in the area.
You’ll get plenty of property for your money, whether you are looking for an apartment, villa and townhouse.
There is a good selection of shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars in San Pedro Del Pinatar town center, which also has a weekly market on Mondays. If you are looking for nightlife, head to La Curva for bars and clubs aplenty and a fun, lively atmosphere. For a big shop, hop in the car and in 10 minutes you can reach Dos Mares, an indoor shopping center in San Javier which offers just about everything you could ever need. Here you will find shops, a cinema, food hall, petrol station and parking are free. In the summer there is a children’s funfair opposite the marina and nearby you can also explore the Salinas walking and cycling route, which takes you out into the beautiful Mar Menor.
Buses and coaches run regularly, and popular destinations include Murcia, Valencia, Madrid, and Alicante. You’re just 5 minutes away from the AP-7 (toll) highway and the N332 (toll-free) highway, either of which can get you to Alicante airport in around an hour.
There are a number of health centres, clinics and dentists in the area. You’re also just over 10 minutes away from the Hospital Los Arcos del Mar Menor, which has some English speaking doctors and a free translation service.
Cost of Living
This area offers great value for money, with low living costs and very competitive property prices.
Santiago de la Ribera
A charming resort uniquely situated on Spain’s south west coast with beaches stretching as far as the eye can see along the saltwater lagoon of the Mar Menor.
With access to the popular Costa Cálida and in easy reach of Murcia, Santiago de la Ribera has much to offer whether you are looking for beaches, sports or mouth-watering gastronomy.
On the shores of the splendid Mar Menor: a calm, shallow saltwater lagoon insulated from the Mediterranean by a long, narrow strip of land, Santiago de la Ribera is an excellent alternative to the busy beaches of the neighbouring Costa Blanca. Situated 3 kilometres from the centre of its parent town San Javier, this was until recently the location of Murcia airport and the gateway to the Costa Cálida. The airport’s relocation half an hour to the west means you might have to travel a little further but the skies and roads around this charming town will be that bit quieter.
Santiago is a great place to enjoy the great outdoors, whether you are relaxing on the many beaches of the Mar Menor or parading the palm lined Ribera promenade, with cycle lanes that provide access the area’s best beaches without even having to get in your car. And with San Javier on your doorstep, you have access to excellent shopping and dining in an area that produces huge quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables and fresh fish.
The town of Santiago de la Ribera has been developing as a destination for tourists since the late 19th century. Today you will find a permanent population of 7,600 people, a friendly community from across Spain and northern Europe.
In Santiago you will find a great alternative to the more expensive resorts of the Costa Blanca, with a great range of modern apartments and villas, many offering Seaview.
This is the place to be if you want to make the most of this special stretch of the coast, with excellent water sports facilities on your doorstep. For day to day practicalities, head up the road to San Javier where you will find supermarkets and the Dos Mares shopping mall which also includes a cinema and bowling.
The airport is a 30-minute drive away, with Santiago de la Ribera being positioned close to a number of fast roads connecting you with Murcia and Alicante. If you are without your own transport a wide range of bus services will get you where you need to be, while a ferry is the quickest way of reaching the beaches of La Manga del Mar Menor.
Many people are drawn to the area for its air quality and the climate of the Mar Menor, with the healing mud baths at Lo Pagan just a few minutes away. Santiago has its own public medical centre and there is another surgery in San Javier, as well as the hospital for the municipality, Los Arcos del Mar Menor on the edge of town.
Cost of Living
You’ll find life in slightly more reasonable than the more touristy Costa Blanca and with property prices also a little lower, this is a good option for anyone who needs to stick to a budget.
Los Alcazares nestles in the curve of the Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, in the province of Murcia in Southern Spain. It is a land dedicated to leisure. From spas to golf, to drinking and dining, there’s a lively scene year-round as well as a boom in the summer.
This once small fishing town has attracted people seeking rest and relaxation since the first Roman settlers built thermal bath houses there. Named from the Arabic word ‘Al Kazar’, meaning ‘palace’ or ‘house of nobles’, Los Alcazares continues to triple its population over the summer.
Historically, people come for the springs and spas, including the Hotel-Spa La Encarnación, famous for its ‘novenaries’ — a series of nine baths — on offer since the hotel was built in 1902. But more recently the area has developed into a major golf destination with over 30 golf courses within 1 hour’s driving distance.
Then there’s the Mar Menor, a calm, swimming pool-like sweep of sea, where many of the beaches are blue flag standard. Here, the temperate water is no deeper than 7 meters due to the bank of sand called La Manga which protectively cordons off the bay from the Mediterranean.
Los Alcázares residents celebrate year-round. With the ‘Semana de la Huerta’ (Countryside Week) in August and the ‘Incursiones Berberiscas’ (reenactment of the Berber Pirate raids), a Medieval market and a series of theatrical performances at Easter. As well as the usual fiestas, there’s a week-long celebration of independence in October with live music and events, windsurfing tournament and fireworks. The Promenade is a road bustling with shops, restaurants and bars that cater for both the influx of summer guests and year-round residents.
Due to its facilities, Los Alcazares is more expensive than many of the surrounding resorts. The town has 3 neighbourhoods: Los Narejos, with duplex and low-rise apartments, townhouses and villas, where permanent residents tend to live, the Town Centre which is mostly apartments (often rented out to holidaymakers in season), and the Old Town which is traditional Spanish rather than modern in style. There are resorts — like the Ronda Golf resort — with estates surrounding the town offering high spec apartments and villas.
The town is incredibly close to the Murcia San-Javier Airport — great if you fly frequently but not if you want quiet skies. However, this is due to be closed and replaced in 2019 (although there have been several delays) by the Región de Murcia International Airport, some 30 minutes’ drive away. Motorways connect all the major coastal towns and inland cities; buses connect nearby towns like Torrevieja and Cartagena. There is also regular bus service circulating the town.
The town has excellent public healthcare centre, along with a number of general practitioners and dentists. There’s also a university hospital within a 15-minute drive.
As this is a land of plenty, food and drink are comparably cheap to buy. However, the costs of goods (clothes, household items etc) and services are on par with the rest of Europe. Murcia property is, on the whole, less expensive than more Northerly coasts nearby Alicante or Malaga.
La Torre Golf Resort
On the Costa Cálida near the unique beaches of the Mar Menor and the historic city of Murcia is the delightful Golf Resort of La Torre, built around a stunning 18-hole golf course.
La Torre exists for golf lovers, but it is also an excellent place to settle for anyone looking to make the most of this beautiful region whilst living in a safe, luxurious environment.
An elegant village founded in 2006, together with one of the best golf courses on the Costa Cálida, La Torre offers you the chance to live amid blissful surroundings on the shores of a manmade lake. This is also a town with a heart and boasts fantastic amenities including bars, restaurants, a supermarket and even an international school. Conveniently situated close to both airports and the historic cities of Murcia and Cartagena and only a short drive to the golden beaches of the Mar Menor, La Torre is the perfect base from which to discover this tranquil Mediterranean region.
This is a location very much affected by the season, busy in summer and somewhat quieter the rest of the year. Whenever you choose to come you will find a friendly community largely consisting of expats.
There are over 2,500 properties in La Torre, including townhouses, apartments and villas built around the golf course. Depending on the size of home you choose you’ll either have your own landscaped gardens or access to communal areas.
Along with the well maintained 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus, other amenities include a supermarket, hairdressers, bank, solicitors, children’s play areas and a nursery. There are 16 communal swimming pools to choose from, all free to use for residents.
You will be close to both the Mar Menor coast and the airport at Corvera. If you are without your own transport, you’ll find connections to the airport, but unfortunately no bus services to the wider region.
The town has its own medical centre along with a pharmacy in neighbouring Roldan. For more specialist healthcare, it’s a 20-minute drive to the university hospital in Murcia.
Cost of Living
Set away from the coast and south of the more touristy Costa Blanca, La Torre is a little less expensive than some other resorts. However, the local shops can be a bit more pricey, so you should factor in occasional trips to the bigger stores in the neighbouring towns.