The encircling region of La Manga Club is bursting with natural wonders and breath-taking beauty, and residents of our villas at La Manga Club are spoilt for choice when considering what to discover next. One such day trip, less than an hour’s drive from our golf resort, is the beautiful Isla Plana.
Once you pass through the historic city of Cartagena and up through the mountains, you are treated to views of unparalleled beauty as you look down upon Isla Plana. Here, the teal blue of the Mediterranean meets the clear blue sky at the horizon and offers up the panoramas that cameras were created to capture.
Isla Plana lies on the Costa Cálida, tucked away in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mazarrón, just on the edge of the Cartagena region. It is a small village and as such has a distinctive charm and history that can be discovered by strolling around the town and the surroundings, taking in all there is on offer. Bars, shops and restaurants are aplenty and the 15-kilometre coastline (which merges with La Azohia on one side and Puerto de Mazarron on the other) will afford our La Manga Club beach-loving residents long stretches of sandy, pebbly and rocky beaches and coves to swim in and sunbathe on, even – thanks to the moderate climate – in the latter months of the year. Glorious weather often arrives early too, and the months of March, April and May can boast temperatures up in the mid-20s.
Despite being small and tucked away, Isla Plana is a hub of activity. The main beach, Playa Isla Plana, extends along the coastline east of the centre of the village and there are some delightful little beaches to admire whilst soaking in the rays of the sun.
Activities abound throughout the year, but particularly in the summer months, water sports are very popular. Along with having Blue Flag beaches, the local marina has a great selection of water sport activities such as sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing lessons (available in La Azohia), canoeing, scuba-diving and snorkelling, if you want to combine a day at the beach with something more.
Available to do throughout the year but perhaps better done in the summer months is exploring the Cueva del agua. Renowned as a difficult cave to dive, it is recommended, however, that only the most experienced La Manga Club divers take on this activity. Information about the cave conditions can be found here: cuevadelagua.net
The water cave is estimated to be about 21 meters deep and is composed of a labyrinth of galleries of more than 2.5 kilometres in length that reach back into the mountains. On the surface it maintains a temperature of 18º, rising to 30º at a depth of 6 or so metres. This is due to the profusion of thermal baths in the area of Isla Plana.
Evidence of this can be found in the Baños de la Marrana: well-preserved ruins of Roman thermal baths that are worth a visit. Legend has it an unhappy sow suffering from rheumatism walked down to the beach (where the baths were built) to the hot spring, rolled in the hot water and was cured after frequent visits. Whether you believe it or not, the walk there is reached by a wooden pathway from the Ermita de Nuestra Senora del Carmen and offers views of some remains of Roman kilns as well as views of the beautiful rugged coastline. Should the Roman baths incite the desire to immerse yourself in hot water and enjoy a nice soak, the local camping site is open year-round and has a naturally heated thermal spring pool available.
Another year-round activity on offer in Isla Plana is cycling, and there are many routes. For those La Manga Club residents wishing to just jump in the car and go explore the Isla Plana area, cycle hire is available locally that will allow you to check out the stunning countryside or ride up the mountains.
Along with cycle paths, there are many walking tracks dotted about the area with various intensity levels. Some of the better-known tracks can be found in this pdf from the Murcian Tourism site. More information and details about bike trails and hiking can be picked up free of charge from the local Tourist Information Office as well.
For residents of La Manga Club who want to venture to surrounding areas of interest, just out of Isla Plana itself is the very large national park, the Sierra Espuña, which contains Murcia’s largest forest, as well as being one of its most worthy areas of outstanding natural beauty. The mountain range connects with the coastal plains of Cordillera Bética and is teeming with wildlife such as wild boar, foxes and wild cats. African aoudad also run free here, inhabiting the park area. If you turn your head skyward, you can even catch glimpses of golden eagles flying overhead.
Also nearby is an old military zone, where impressive gun emplacements may excite even the most non-military-history enthused. The road up to the guns is narrow and twisting and caution needs be exercised in its ascent, but the trip is worthwhile for the view alone. The top section provides a perfect picnic setting, but bring everything you need, as there are no facilities whatsoever!
It is definitely worth seeking out this pretty little stretch of the Costa Calida to discover the gems to be had in a small Spanish coastal town just down the road from our villas at La Manga Club.