Published on : Tuesday, April 19, 2016
The flight, from Dublin Airport, will operate four times a week and opens up a region which enjoys year-round sunshine and a stunning coastline which features everything from historic towns to state-of-the-art watersports facilities, castles to shipwrecks, and stunning beaches to dolphin watching – and all from less than €21 per person, per night.
Murcia-San Javier Airport lies just 17 miles south-east of the town of Murcia, and is just a pleasant 40-minute drive from the delightful town and port of Mazarrón, in the heart of the Costa Cálida, the ‘warm coast’.
Mazarrón Bay is sheltered by the foothills of the Sierra de la Almenara, and has been a mining area since the Carthaginian era. But more than 35km of beaches, unspoiled coves and rocky sea beds make this the ideal place for relaxing in the sun, enjoying nautical sports, scuba-diving, and sampling the local gastronomy.
In the port, the fishing dock and the fish market offer a chance for visitors to learn more about the town’s seafaring tradition, including the Roman Salt Preserving Factory Museum, which features part of a large industrial complex dating from the fourth and fifth centuries. The defensive towers on the Los Caballos peak are just a stone’s throw away. The Bolnuevo Erosions, sandstone monuments sculpted by the water and wind, are another sight well worth seeing.
It is an idyllic place for all the family: the Playa del Castellar, for example, seems to have been designed specifically for children. Its fine, clean sand and shallow waters allow for pleasant bathing for everyone.
An excursion across the bay aboard a restored 20m Turkish gulet – a traditionally designed wooden sailing vessel – for anything between a day and a week, affords the opportunity to go dolphin watching. A number of species can be observed: common, striped, bottlenose, Risso’s, and even the long-finned pilot whale, and, occasionally, fin and sperm whales.
A further half-an-hour along the coast is another delightful port city, Águilas, which blends a tradition of seafaring with a wide range of tourist facilities, making the most of one of its main attractions, the extensive coastline.
Águilas is an old Roman fishing port which became a major mining enclave in the 19th century, a reminder of which times is the Hornillo jetty, where iron, lead and silver, from the nearby mines, were loaded on to ships.
In the town centre, which maintains a rich seafaring flavour, it is worth visiting Plaza de España, the City Hall and the church of San José, where the image of the patron saint is housed. At the top of the old town, standing on a promontory, is the castle-fortress of San Juan de Águilas, built in 1579 for purposes of defence.
Águilas offers solitary coves and beaches with crystal-clear water, such as La Higuerica, La Carolina or Calabardina; urban beaches, such as Las Delicias; and one of the best areas on the Mediterranean coast for scuba diving, thanks to some excellent rocky sea beds, on Fraile island and in the area around the rock of Cape Cope.
A break in May at the three-star Hotel Playasol, in Mazarrón, costs from just €41.27 per room, per night, based on two people sharing a standard room on a bed-and-breakfast basis.