Whether on top of the waves or below the surface, La Manga in Murcia situated in South East Spain offers many exciting opportunities for water sports lovers and is considered a scuba divers and water sports paradise.
This is the largest salt water lagoon in Europe, with a surface area of 170 sq. km. It is the perfect playground for anyone who wants to learn many types of surface water sports. It is also great for much more experienced water sports enthusiasts who love to get their adrenaline rush.
The Mar Menor (small sea) is protected from the open mediterranean sea by a 21km long sand bar that is called La manga (the sleve). However the wind is not affected from blowing across the sand bar and row of high-rise apartments into the shallow body of protected water. The sand bar stops the waves while the wind continues. This makes it the perfect playground for activities such as windsurfing, kite boarding, sailing . Jet skiing and powerboating are also popular inside of the protected sea. The prevailing wind “Levante” or easterly wind provides a constant 10-15 knots into the sea several months of the year. This comes mostly in the afternoons and evenings of spring and autumn.
The Mar Menor was recently granted special protection by Spain’s senate. It now has legal status just as person, which is a first for Spain. This has been a huge positive step forward to help preserve this natural lagoon for the future generations and is great news for tourism.
The Med offers some of the best places to scuba dive and snorkel in the whole of Europe. This is mainly because of the protected marine reserves we have in the area.
Protected since 1995 the Islas Hormigas marine reserve is located east from the rocky coast of Cabo de Palos. This almost 19 Km2 area has some fantastic dive sites. It also has some world class ship wrecks dating back over 100 years. Because its geographical location from the peninsula it has currents passing. These currents bring many nutrients to the shallow reefs and create an upwelling when hitting them. This attracts thousands of smaller marine life species, which in return attracts bigger predatory fish.
This is what makes this diving area so special. There are lots of various fauna and flora, and some corals to see. The sheer biodiversity and abundance of marine life that is this area is rivalled around the world. Many divers would say it´s comparable to some of the most famous destinations worldwide. This reserve is famous for its huge grouper population which are the iconic symbol of the Mediterranean Sea.
Bajo de fuera is one of the most special dive sites inside of the marine reserve. It is approximately 6 km from the port and north east of the smaller islands called La Hormiga and El Hormigon. This reef system extends over 75m and raises steeply from a sandy seabed approx. 60m deep to just 4m on top of the reef. This has been a fatal shipping trap in the past 2 centuries and has 5 known ship wrecks with scattered debris on the reef.
An array of wrecks can be found extending from Cartagena all the way to the north of La Manga. This was mostly due to a German U boat from WW1 that was operating in the area. It managed to torpedo and sink these ships. Some of them are over 120 meters long such as the SS Stanfield sitting at a depth of over 45m deep, which is in the technical dive range.
The “Naranjito” wreck is the most popular and known wreck as its just 1.2km from the port of Cabo de Palos. It sank in 1946 due to a storm. She was carrying a cargo of oranges and listed in the waves. She took on water very quickly sank to the bottom at a depth of 30 m. This is a great dive with lots of marine life living inside and shoaling around. It is a popular site to find sunfish in spring .
Cabo de Palos and its rocky outcrop has many protected bays, overlooked by the iconic lighthouse. It stands 81 meters above sea level and is just over 50m tall. It has been guiding ships clear of the shallow reefs since 1865. These rather Rocky bays are perfect for snorkelling, try dives and beginner scuba diving courses as they are protected from waves and swell that mostly come from the “Levante”. Soon to be included into the Islas hormigas marine reserve the area will flourish with more marine life due to the banning of spear gun fishing and normal rod and line fishing. This is exciting news for the region and divers alike.
This Beautiful and ancient city of Cartagena is just 20 minutes west of La Manga Club and is a popular place to enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling. The port faces in the southerly direction. The coast is shielded by the mountainous ridge that runs along the south coast of Spain. This makes the port extremely protected from the levante winds creating calm waters with less currents.
Due to it´s 3000-years of history as a city and trading shipping port, there has been several artefacts found from ships that have been lying on the sea bed dating back to Phoenician and roman times. These artefacts you will find in the ARQVA museum at the port of Cartagena and is a must visit. One of these sites was very close to Isla grosa in the north of La Manga strip.
Cartagena is also an important naval base. It is the home of the Isaac Peral submarine, the first battery powered sub built in 1888. The prototype is on display in the naval museum which is well worth checking out!
The “Isla Paloma”, which is a small island west of the port, is now a protected marine reserve since 2018. There are several reefs that make up the paloma. It has really grown in terms of marine life abundance since the protection started. You could also enjoy a dive at the CBA (Centro Buceo Armada) which has a series of small wrecks sunk by the navy. Here you can find here a sunken tug, a harrier jet fuselage and more recently a marine rescue helicopter .
One of the most popular dives in Cartagena, is at the Cueva de la Virgen. It is 20 minutes by boat from the port. Diving into a small cavern , you can eventually surface inside a chamber to see stalactites and stalagmites. Divers have found ancient shark teeth inside one of the small chambers of this site.
Cala Cortina is the only beach in Cartagena. This small and protected bay is great for snorkelling excursions and beginner level try dives because of its shallow clear waters. This bay is very popular in summer and has a restaurant which has some good local sea food and tapas. You can find many octopus and smaller fish which makes it attractive to many divers and snorkellers.
This is why water sports enthusiasts consider La Manga to be the water sports Paradise of Spain. It´s well worth a visit and should be added to you´re to do list!
Arrving here by plane takes just over 2 hours from the UK aswell as other Europen countries. You can arrive through Murcia airport which is just 30 minutes from La Manga and the Mar Menor, or Alicante airport which is just over 1 hour north.
As for activities and water sports you can contact Adventure Divers and Activity Center . We are celebrating our 21st year anniversary in the resort ! Catering for all your water sports needs ,we are a 1 stop shop for your activities in this water sports paradise.
Our team can organise trips to these special sites or provide Scuba diving courses so you can get to dive there. People with no experience of scuba diving and dont want to take a course can try our most popular experience, Discover scuba diving . Chances are you will love it !
We are the experts when it comes to scuba diving and snorkelling and will help you find the right activity for you and your family to make your holidays memorable. See what our customers say about our services on trip advisor !
This spring we will be launching a new website www.activitiesmurcia.com . This will also include many water sports around the mar menor and in the med !
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it.
If you have any questions or would like to book one of these great activities please email us on [email protected]