The Mar Menor is a symbolic and unique place. It has an unbeatable weather and a very special natural environment. In fact, there are some protected areas so native flora and fauna can live and grow without any problems. The protected areas are:
- Its five islands of volcanic origin:
- Isla Barón: The biggest island on Mar Menor, more than 100 metres high. It is just in the center of the sea and it is private, so it is in very good condition.
- Isla Perdiguera: Smaller than Isla Barón, around 45 metres high. The most touristic island because there are daily boat trips to the island to hike around the area.
- Isla Redonda: very close to La Manga. It is smaller than the previous one and different types of birds live there.
- Isla Sujeto: Just like Isla Redonda, it is very close to La Manga and many type of birds live there.
- Isla del Ciervo: This island used to have a special feature: It is connected to La Manga, but the walkway was demolished some time ago in order to preserve the environment.
- Regional Park Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar: it has more than 800 hectares. This park is composed of salt lakes and sand dunes where there are many different types of flora and fauna.
- Playa de la Hita: This beach is located between Los Alcázares and San Javier. It has around 30 hectares and it is one of the little beaches that remain wild on Mar Menor. There are wetlands and many vegetation as well as it is a big ecosystem for different birds.
- Monte Carmolí: This mountain is located in Los Urrutias, which belong to the city of Cartagena. It is an extinguished volcano with 100 metres high and many typical vegetation of the area. From the summit, it is possible to enjoy wonderful views of Mar Menor.
Apart from its unique natural environment, the other special characteristic of Mar Menor is its wonderful weather. It is called dry mediterranean climate and it has soft temperature in winter and warm in summer. It is possible to have almost 40º in summer and it is not usual to have less than 5º in winter.
The rainfall average is around 300 mm. yearly, so the existing flora in this area is strongly helped by the humidity to keep growing.
Los Alcázares is a town next to the Mar Menor. It has a seven kilometer long beach with five kilometer long promenade alongside. It belongs to Region of Murcia and it is just 50 kilometres away from Murcia city, 24 kilometres away from Cartagena and just 5 kilometres from Murcia airport, located in San Javier. This airport welcomes many flights from Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and Holland.
The name of Los Alcázares comes from the Arabic, from the word “Al Kazar”, which means “palace” or “noble house”: houses for free time, to have fun and to take a rest, which were built by Arabian people in this city.
In Los Alcázares there is much more than sun and beach. You can enjoy the therapeutic properties of the Mar Menor and the thermal treatments offered by Balneario de la Encarnación, a spa whose building that dates from the beginning of the 20st century. Besides, you can also practice some water sports like sailing, windsurf or kayak all year round thanks to its nice weather. You can also play golf in one of the three golf courses nearby. Likewise, if you want to have dinner or have a drink, you can go to any of the bars and restaurants around the city, although there are two specially popular areas: the 525 Square and Paseo de la Feria, where you can find many different bars, restaurants and all kind of shops.
Los Alcázares has two important fests. During Easter, from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, the staging of the raid of Barbary pirates take place. In this fest, the city is moved back to the 16th and the 17th centuries, when people in the area were terrified by Barbary pirates. On those days, the streets of Los Alcázares are decorated in a way that they look just like they did back in the day, and it is possible to enjoy performances, fencing duels, juggling, dances, people with fire, the Big Exhibition of Barbary pirates (Gran Desfile de Piratas Berberiscos), troubadours, peasants, farmers and the Pirates Landing (Desembarco Pirata). Besides, you can also find one of the biggest medieval markets in Spain there.
In August the International Week of the Orchad and the Sea (Semana Internacional de la Huerta y el Mar) is held in the town. On that week, people from Murcia city ride in horsecars and, after 16 hours riding, they arrive to Los Alcázares and the fest begins. There is an area for these people and folklore, gastronomy, traditions and costums of the Region of Murcia take over the city. Over the whole week you can enjoy different concerts, contests and shows typical of the region. It is also possible to taste a delicious dinner with products from the region.