International travel is not really an option at the moment and local hospitality needs our support so we decided to keep it local and enjoy a summer staycation. After months exploring our lovely province and keeping in mind that July and August would be busy around Gran Alacant we took a short break on the coast of Murcia. Driving for a little over an hour and just across the southern border of the Valencian Community we discovered a quieter Spain away from the hustle and bustle of our own province: The Costa Calida.
As you drive south the land soon becomes increasingly arid and mountainous with fewer towns and development. The coast takes the form of a series of headlands, bays and coves with beautiful sandy beaches leading to clear waters.
We stayed in the largest of the coastal towns, Puerto de Mazarrón. This port is located on the Golfo de Mazarrón. Originally a small fishing port, it is now a relaxed holiday resort mostly patronised by Spaniards. Stretching away along the coast of the Golfo de Mazarron are a number of smaller settlements clustered around stretches of beach including La Azohía, Isla Plana and Bolnuevo.
Our first full day was spent exploring the northern end of the Golfo and the spectacular naval gun emplacements called Castillitos (“Little Castles”) at Cabo Tiñoso (Cartagena). These emplacements were constructed in the early 1930s to protect the approaches to the naval port of Cartagena. The complex of guns and supporting buildings is now an entry free museum and one is able to explore the complex (and yes, most visitors do live out their Cher fantasies…!) and enjoy the breathtaking views across the entire stretch of sea towards Cartagena. Merchant ships still anchor below the headland awaiting their turn to enter the port. The scale of the emplacements is striking however one wonders how useful they would have been under air attack since big gun batteries and battleships were already becoming obsolete at the time these were being built.
Afterwards we spent the rest of the day on the beach at La Azohía. The beach here is long and sandy but quiet and the settlement cannot even be described as a town being more of a collection of summer houses and a few restaurants. It reminded us of the atmosphere one enjoys in the Cycladic islands in Greece; just beautiful! We spent our time at a perfect chiringuito called Namaste, run by a very friendly lady called Begoña. She provides loungers, parasols, excellent home cooked healthy beach food and chilled claras and tintos de verano – highly recommended for a relaxing day on the beach.
The next day we travelled south from Puerto De Mazarron to the beach of Bolnuevo and the protected cove beaches that stretch south along the coast. Bolnuevo has a huge sandy beach with a sprinkling of beach bars and restaurants. There is a beach club called Oasis with a great vibe which also offers accommodation. However, it was the small cove beaches that we wished to explore and we were not disappointed. The old coast road has been closed and turned into a walking path of 8 kms giving access to the small coves containing beaches. It was too hot to walk the entire coastal path so we chose a small cove hemmed by tall cliffs and after scrambling down from the path were rewarded by a wonderful place to swim in crystal waters shared with only a handful of other bathers. The timeless magic of the Mediterranean came alive in that little cove. Once the weather cools down, we will definitely come back to fully experience that part of the Murcian coast.
Dinner was back at Puerto de Mazarron and taken at a gastro tapas restaurant on the paseo, Tapería Perra Chica. We enjoyed classic tapas dishes with a twist of imagination to challenge one’s expectations of what it is possible to find in a town off of the beaten track. After dinner we decided to walk up the hill toward the Faro (lighthouse) of Mazarrón and came across the perfect sunset place, Heladería El Faro, where you can enjoy a cocktail or two as well as the stunning views over the bay and the surrounding mountains.
The final day we drove home, stopping in Cartagena for lunch. This ancient city contains a little maze of shady historic streets with places to shop and eat. It is one of the most historic and important Spanish ports and famous for its roman ruins. We will definitely be returning for a city break & proper visit in future.
Our “staycation” expedition to the Murcia coast was a huge success. If you want to enjoy a quieter coastal Spain with sunshine, great beaches and good food we highly recommend that you visit our southern neighbours in the Golfo De Mazarrón area.