Hot Coast Costa Cálida
The 250km/150mi long Costa Cálida which extends southwest and northeast of Cartagena is frequented in summer by countless thousands of holidaymakers, who come here to enjoy the spacious beaches, most of them relatively quiet, which are interrupted here and there by rocky sections of coast. Along the coast are holiday villages, hotels, bathing beaches and a variety of other tourist facilities - all of which are largely deserted in winter.
Hot Coast Map
The main center of tourist activities is the Mar Menor northeast of Cartagena. This is a large lagoon (area 180 sq.km/70 sq.mi), with water of high salt and iodine content, which is cut off from the sea by a narrow spit of land, La Manga, 22km/14mi long and between 50m/55yd and 150m/165yd wide, which is traversed by several channels. The water of the lagoon, which has an average depth of 7m/23ft, is so warm that bathing is possible almost all year round. La Manga and the strip of coast on the mainland side of the lagoon are lined with facilities for bathers, hotels and tourist centers. The most important of these on the mainland are San Pedro de Pinatar, San Javier (which is also a military air base), Los Alcázares, Los Urrutias and Los Belones. The last of these has one of the longest and most beautiful 18-hole golf courses in Spain, the Campo de Golf La Manga. The most important tourist resort on La Manga itself is La Manga del Mar, with houses built on piles over the water and high apartment blocks. At the south end of La Manga Cabo de Palos falls steeply down to the sea.
Golfo de Mazarrón
The coast of the Golfo de Mazarrón, to the south of Cartagena, is rather quieter than that of the Mar Menor. Here N 332 runs some distance inland, only occasionally coming down to the coast but linked with the coastal resorts by numerous side roads.
Puerto de Mazarron
After passing through the seaside resort of Puerto de Mazarrón the road comes in 37km/23mi to the little town of Mazarrón (alt. 99m/325ft), an old mining village with a ruined castle which belonged to the Velez family.
The road continues from Puerto de Mazarrón, skirting the Sierra de Almenara, to Aguilas, the most southerly town on the Costa Cálida, with the Castillo de San Juan de las Aguilas looming over it. On the seaward side the town is defended by a stretch of medieval walls with a 12m/40ft high tower built in 1414.