Los Alcazares is a small coastal town on the western side of the Mar Menor. With an average 320 days of annual sunshine, the town is a popular holiday destination. The town’s base population of 14,000 can swell to over 100,000 during peak season. In fact, Los Alcazares has a history as a holiday destination; its name is derived from the Arabic word for ‘palace’, in reference to the holiday mansions that were built along the coast here by the Moors.
The Mar Menor is Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon and is separated from the adjacent Mediterranean Sea by a narrow strip of land, La Manga. The temperature of the lagoon tends to stay a few degrees warmer than the Meditaerranean itself, this, along with its calm waters, makes it particularly inviting for swimming and watersports; it has been called “the world’s largest swimming pool”. All of Los Alcazeres’ beaches hold Blue Flag Status.
In 210 B.C., the Roman occupation of Los Alcazares began. They recognised the salt properties of the Mar Menor and exploited it to create a salt, meat and fishing industry in the area. They were also the first to recognise Los Alcazares’ potential as a spot for relaxation. Here the Romans built the first thermal baths and spas in the area. In the 6th century, the conquering Moors built their palaces here, and in 1898 the rich nobility from Murcia built their summer residences on the Los Alcazares coast to be close to the therapeutic qualities of the Mar Menor.
This history of relaxation and spa treatments continues today in the form of the La Encarnación Spa Resort. Built at the end of the 19th century, the hotel retains many of its original features and charms. As well as offering thermal spa treatments, the hotel also houses two restaurants open to both guests and visitors.
For those interested in sports there is plenty to keep you busy. Sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, kite-boarding and diving are all popular on the Mar Menor and, thanks to the calm, warm waters, are available year-round. Back on dry-land there is the Infanta Cristina Elite Sports Centre, a world-class training centre used by famous sports bodies and clubs. There are also many golf courses a short drive outside the town.
Los Alcazares is around one hour’s drive from Alicante Airport and Drivalia Car Rental.