North of La Manga on the spit lies the Tomas Maestre marina, a port set up directly on the dividing line between Mar Menor and the Mediterranean. Available activities other than marvelling at luxury yachts (and sea vessels of the more modest variety) include dining, bar-hopping, and shopping.
Apart from primarily utilitarian trips across the Mar Menor to settlements like Santiago de la Ribera and Los Alcazares, several boat operators offer guided leisure rides - these often include a tour of coastal attractions, along with stops for swimming out at sea or one of the area's many beaches. One company that offers these (and other) services is Solaz Lines:
If time allows, do make the trip to Punta Brava across Mar Menor from La Manga. Some of the best views over the Strip (and Sierra Mineras on the other side) unfold from here, and hiking along the coast rewards with ever more landscape vistas. Trains to Cartagena depart from the nearby Los Nietos.
La Manga's location smack in the middle of two seas couldn't be more perfect for engaging in water sports. Sailing, wind- and kite-surfing are best done on the Mediterranean side, while the calm waters of Mar Menor are better fit for canoeing and jet skiing. La Manga Watersports Salida 19, Hotel Cavanna Playa la Gola, La Manga +34 634 35 04 37 www.lamangawatersports.com Aqua Adicta Watersports Calle Pintor Rosales 28, Mar de Cristal, La Manga +34 659 43 48 11 www.aqua-adicta.co.uk
Calblanque Regional Park is a spot of rare natural beauty open to visitors all year round. This protected natural area boasts stunning landscapes, a beautiful shoreline with multiple small bays and coves, and a multitude of trails to explore. There is very little tourist infrastructure, however, so do make sure to bring all necessary supplies along with you.
The beachfront restaurant is admittedly one of the most pleasant dining spots on the strip. Its secluded location in the north of La Manga secures relative tranquility, and the kitchen doesn't fail to meet expectations - Escuela serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine and seafood.
Located in the Tomas Maestre Marina area, La Brasserie is an excellent choice for dinner - the restaurant serves a wide selection of great meat cuts and seafood dishes, all at rather reasonable prices. Cooking is Mediterranean with an emphasis on French, with even French essentials like snails featured on the menu.
When in Cabo de Palos to La Manga's south, do try and reserve a mealtime for this authentic local eatery specializing in the ubiquitous "caldero", and other fish and seafood dishes (along with meats and some international specialties). The setting is scenic, seating available overlooking the town port.
Do not be deterred by the establishments simple furnishings - Spanish foods served here are of consistently great quality, even though the service may not be up to very high standards. Specialties include the usual suspects of rice and seafood, with a few Colombian dishes thrown into the mix.
The indie bar Ya Te Vale is one of the starting points for a night out on the town in Plaza de Bohemia (one of La Manga's nightlife hot spots) or a drink before dinner at one of the restaurants in the vicinity. The bar plays good indie music and has a pleasant low-key vibe about it.
Trips Summer Club is a glamorous nightlife establishment in Cape Palos, to La Manga's south. It's a large space fit to accommodate large groups of party-goers who frequent the disco during high season. There is pool at the club's center, with airy dance floors all around. A cover charge applies.
Van Gogh is one of the most popular bars in La Manga's busiest strip. It is often found teeming with customers who crowd its intimate, shaded courtyard while sipping on one of the many cocktails off the bar menu. Service has received high regard despite the establishment's popularity.
The marine-themed boutique (fittingly located on a strip of land between two seas) stocks everything from nautical clothing (both pattern-wise and in terms of practicality - children's clothing to rain-proof vests) to home decor items and all sorts of paraphernalia one would require on a sea journey.
La Manga's popular namesake resort is a small town of its own, complete with various entertainment options, including stores and boutiques. Here, visitors will be able to drop into clothing, souvenir, and small corner shops (larger supermarkets are located outside resort premises).
For a more substantial choice of stores, the Dos Mares shopping centre may be a good pick - located on the Spanish mainland north of the strip, Dos Mares is worth the trip if shopping for international (and some local) brand clothing and accessories is what you're looking for. There is a cinema and a few eateries on-site.
The airport closest to La Manga is Murcia-San Javier. Despite its relative territorial proximity, getting to La Manga proper may be difficult with public transport alone - there are no direct buses, but those willing to take the economy route may first choose to take a quick ride to Santiago de la Ribera, from where coaches depart to La Manga twice daily. The easiest and most comfortable options would be a pre-arranged transfer or taxi hire (the latter is readily available at the airport).