When it comes to Spainish holidays, the main ports of call tend to be the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, and Costa Brava playing home to some of the biggest and busiest Spainish holiday resorts. Understandably so there are some wonderful destinations for all budgets and all ages within these parts of Spanish Mainland. That said the last few years has seen our family holiday destination branch out, kind of. In some ways it has constricted somewhat now being dependant on short flight times but in turn it has allowed us to explore places we have previously overlooked.
We first went to the Costa Calida, more specifically the Mar Menor back in September/October 2016 and stayed on the Mar Menor Golf Resort. We did actually return the following February we enjoyed it that much and as people who don’t normally return to the same place this says a lot.
Costa Calida is just south of the Costa Blanca. The main airport is San Javier however you can fly into Alicante with a transfer time of 50-60 minutes (dependant of course on where you are staying). San Javier itself is a small airport, which when travelling with young ones can make life easier and for us staying on the Mar Menor the transfer time is all of 10 minutes.
Where to Stay
I have waxed lyrical in the past over our penchant for private rentals. There are private lets in abundance on the Mar Menor. Our preferred destination is always the Polaris World Mar Menor Golf Resort. It is a gated beautifully kept, safe residential/holiday letting complex with a 5* Hotel on site, The Intercontinental. The complex offer a couple of small parks for the children, a swimming pools (private and shared), spa, convenience store, 4 restaurants and a number of bars. Oh and of course the gold course which circles the complex. We have a spent many an afternoon, and some evenings trailing the hotel’s offerings and we have always enjoyed, especially with the Sushi restaurant. Just outside of the complex is a small road of bars and restaurants. Both the hotel and the one of the bars of strip outside offer evening entertainment for the little ones. The Hotel also offers a childrens’ club. For us this offers the perfect mix as we have options for places to eat and drink on site yet we are not cramped into a small hotel room, rather a luxurious 3 bedroom apartment or Villa – for half the price. The only downside however is that it is a 10 minute drive out of the main town (and beach) of Los Alcazares and you really do need a car.
Other Golf Resorts available include Hacienda, El Valle and La Torre although all of these are even further away from the coast and have fewer amenities. IF you want a complex within walking distance then Roda golf is your closest. There are of course other rentals within the town and neighbouring areas to consider.
If hotels are more your thing then the 525 always looks promising, and is superbly placed in Los Alcazares.
What to do
Our days of sitting and sunbathing are well truly over so we are always on the lookout for places to go and things to do. Here are a few things we have sampled
1. Categna shopping complex – Espacio Mediterraneo
As we went out of season in February we did have a few cloudy days and this complex did have something to suit everyone. An amazing soft play for the children (of all ages), lots of fabulous shops for the teen and I and bars and restaurants for Mr Tammy (and me). We came here a few times actually and enjoyed it each time. There are also a plenty of restaurants with soft play in them – not in an annoying way either. When you have two toddlers this is a godsend. Got to love the Spanish and their ability to cater for children.
The town of Murcia is well worth a visit, with mixes of modern day shopping to old beautiful architecture. Just walking around the town is entertainment in itself. It is stunning. It is so typically Spanish and full with the mediterrean cafe culture. There are lots of independent cafes, restaurants and shops all set in beautiful buildings.
Caregna is a beautiful town/port with some stunning architecture stepped in lots of history, it well worth your time. Again the cafe culture is prevalent here along old cobbled streets. You can stroll a long the harbourside or take a boat strip or pay the Roman Theatre of Carthago Nova a visit.
4. Los Alcazares, Lo Pagan and La Zenia
All small towns within Murcia, that offer beaches and the more touristy aspects, such as ‘strips’ of bars and restaurants. La Zenia is home to a huge shopping complex with something for everyone whereas Lo Pagan is typically more residential but still a levely little town to stroll along the promenade.
Good old Benidorm and Alicante are just an 90 and 60 minutes up the road respectively. Where you will find theme parks, water parks, endless amounts of bars and restaurants – the typically more touristy destinations. Equally you can get to Valencia and Denia within an hour.
Good To Know
The main roads are fab. They’re great for getting anywhere, direct and well maintained but a word of warning – watch out for tolls.
Salt Lakes. The waters in Los Alcazares along to Lo Pagan is a man made salt lake – not the glorious med. A bit of a shame in my book, especially as last time we were there the water looked a bit murky. It has however been in the aftermath of some serious and very uncommon flooding and the government were on the case of cleaning the water. If the sea is what you are after then you will need to go the 30 minutes to La Zenia or 40 (ish) minutes to La Manga.
Siesta. The less touristy hot spots are still very much governed by the siesta time. Pharmacies, restaurants, soft play and smaller shops in particular will be closed in the afternoon but with extended opening hours of an evening/night time.
When to go. The weather can be nice as early as February until as late as November. That said it will be cold of a night and you should expect some cloudy, possibly wet days. The height of the summer from July – August is likey to reach 40 degrees in the sun so do keep that in mind.