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A Stroll By The Mar Menor

“Whose idea was it to come to the Costa Cálida in February?”, my wife asked as a cold breeze whipped across our faces. Of course she knew the answer! I had suggested it would be good to get away from the wet, cold and miserable British weather with a short break in Murcia on Spain’s south-east coast.
Costa Cálida means ‘warm coast’ so it seemed like a fair bet. Unfortunately this year’s (2013) freakish weather meant that it was cold and wet. Undaunted, this particular day (01 March), which was at least dry, found us in Santiago de la Ribera on the Mar Menor.  This small, coastal district is a former fishing village on the outskirts of San Javier town and is one of our favourite spots on the Mar Menor. Although modern, it still retains a village-like feel. It has sandy beaches, stretching some 2 kilometres north toward Los Cuarteros, which are bordered by a wide, well-kempt, promenade.
During the peak summer months of July and August this whole coastline is busy with both Spanish and international tourists but we tend to go off season. It is a whole lot easier to park our Drivalia car and of course restaurants and bars are not so packed: I should of course mention that I would expect many food and drink outlets to be closed during the low season around November – January. Our preferred months are April/May and September/October when it is generally warm but still relatively quiet. On this day there were some brave souls dining at the restaurants that were open around the Explanada Barnuevo; but since we had eaten already we were just there for a stroll along the Mar Menor, despite the weather.
View Mar Menor in a larger map
I find it very relaxing to walk along this stretch of coastline looking out across the Mar Menor at La Manga with its string of high-rise hotels spanning the horizon. Even on a windy day the sheltered waters of the lagoon are relatively calm and the sailing boats (of which there are many) gently bob and chatter at their moorings as lanyards slap against masts. The promenade is lined with palm trees and sufficiently wide to comfortably accommodate a cycle lane. La Manga Mar Menor With so few people about, the small cafes which are strategically positioned to capture the attention of bathers and those, like us, just enjoying the promenade were all closed apart from one. Our goal though was to walk to Los Cuarteros, the next small conurbation just a few kilometres along the coast. Los Cuarteros is a coastal district of San Pedro del Pinatar  just to the south of Lo Pagan. Usually this walk takes around 30-40 minutes or so but with the wind against us it took a little longer, not that we were in any hurry. By the time we had reached Los Cuarteros and Calle Magallanes, the point at which this stretch of beach ends, the sun was out and adding to the warm glow that the exercise had induced. Perhaps Costa Cálida is not such a misnomer after all; especially when you consider that in a ‘normal’ year the average temperature is 11ºC in the winter months of December and January. It was time for a drink at one of the two bars overlooking the Mar Menor as the sun began to sink toward the horizon after a very short days’ work. Los Cuarteros Mar Menor It is always gratifying to look back across the slight curve of the coast to the point we had left in Santiago de la Ribera less than an hour previously. Yes, it is not always so good to contemplate the walk back, but it does help build the appetite for dinner. Santiago de la Ribera is around a 50 minute drive from the Drivalia car hire depot at Alicante Airport.