Monday, November 14, 2011

Branching Out and Exploring Costa Calida

There’s no denying that the Murcia region is something special. From brilliant beaches which remain free from the wildfire of mass tourism, to enchanting countryside primed for exploration, you’ll never tire of things to do in the captivating city of Murcia.
It’s worth branching out a bit further though, because the 250km expanse of the Costa Calida coastline is calling and it starts practically on your doorstep. It stretches from El Mojon near Alicante, all the way down to Aguilas on the border of Almeria. Arrange Murcia Airport car hire and start exploring further afield; aside from picture perfect views, you’ll find plenty more to enjoy.
The ex-fishing village of El Mojon pinpoints the start of the trail. It still retains its original charm but it has now been transformed into a modern resort. There isn’t a huge amount to do per-se, but the secluded sandy shore can answer all your prayers if you’re a beach lover.
Not far from El Mojon are a couple of local towns which you may not have heard of, but will prove to be a valued visit. The first is the larger town of San Pedro, just over 1 mile away from the beach. Brimming with character, the old harbour has a certain charm to it and there’s a market on Mondays that’s worth a wander, packed with fresh local produce. Also worth a look is the town of Pillar De La Horadada where you can find some fantastic local restaurants and authentic tapas bars, plus a host of shops to peruse.
If you branch off from the AP-7 after a visit to the Mar Menor and opt for the smaller scenic roads, you’ll be acquainted with Mazarron Bay which is sheltered by its impressive backdrop of peaks. With its own port, filled with brightly coloured fishing boats, a hive of activity scents the air. You will need to travel around 7km inland to reach the town itself and it certainly has some delights up its sleeve from the 15th century Castillo de los Velez to a collection of 16th and 17th century churches. In addition, you can climb the Torre de los Caballos watch tower which dates to the 16th century. Sample the delectable selection of fresh fish and tapas during your visit and simply soak up the sunshine.
Just a few kilometres away from Mazarron Bay lays the tiny medieval village of Bolnuevo. Referred to as the “enchanted city”, the rocks here have been eroded by the elements over many years and Mother Nature has crafted a series of sandstone shapes and creations. They are an impressive natural sight which appears to defy the laws of gravity. Some of the rock and clay even contains micro fossils which date to around 4.5 million years ago. There are a multitude of tiny snug coves and sandy secludes to choose from, perfect to enjoy the mini microclimate which brings 300 plus days of sunshine every year.
Before you move on from the area, take a trip inland to explore the beckoning backdrop of the Sierra Espuna Mountain Range. The journey will take approximately 45 minutes, but it’s a small price to pay for the beauty that awaits you. The regional park offers a wealth of enjoyment amongst its 25,000 hectares with the option to traverse some of it on foot via the spider web of walking trails or by a scenic drive along the well-kept mountain road. Pack a picnic and stop off at one of the many viewing points; it will transport you to tranquillity. The village of Aledo clings to the side of the mountain and is one of many worthy stops during your time in the park. Climb the 11th century tower for further dramatic and inspiring views.
From here, head back to Mazarron and embark on what can only be described as a fascinating journey south towards Aguilas. You will see some fantastic and varied sights encompassing desert and mountain scenery, broken with colourful bursts of mineral stained mounds and slate hills. Upon arrival at Aguilas, close to the border of Almeria, you will soon classify it as a charming port town. Spend some time at the Plaza de Espana Gardens, see the city hall and step back in time at the 16th century San Juan de Aguilas Fortress. Below this, you’ll spy the port and the black and white striped lighthouse. The 34km stretch of coastline boasts rocky coves aplenty and beaches with crystal clear water. Some of the best scuba diving in the area can be found close to the rock of Cape Cope, so it’s the perfect opportunity to slide on your wet suit and meet the fishy underworld.
This simply scratches the surface of the Costa Calida; there are a huge array of other towns, villages and places of interest that are worthy of your time up and down the coast. The point of this post is to encourage you to stretch your imagination…branch out from the Mar Menor and Murcia and discover what the rest of the region can offer you. You won’t be disappointed.
Guest post by Kerri Ware (Economy Car Hire Ltd )

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