Región de Murcia Destination Guide

A hidden Mediterranean jewel

Región de Murcia

Región de Murcia is located in the southeast of Spain, between Almeria and Alicante by the Mediterranean Sea.

The region is a rich mix of dramatic mountainous terrain, barren desert rock, dense forest and fertile agricultural land; the produce from the vineyards in the latter being world-renowned. However, from a diver’s perspective, it is the 252km of coastline – comprising coves, beaches, rocky shorelines and sheer, craggy cliffs – known as the Costa Cálida that will be of most interest. All along this shoreline, at places such as Islas Hormigas, Cabo de Palos, Isla Grosa (marine reserve), Cartagena, La Azohía, Cabo Tiñoso (marine reserve), Mazarrón and Águilas, are shipwrecks, walls and reefs, not to mention some of the healthiest marine life in the Med.

The icing on this tasty Spanish cake is the climate. Murcia basks in an average annual temperature of 18 degrees C, with hot summers topping out close to 40 degrees C and mild winters only dropping to an average of 11-12 degrees C in December and January. Throw in some 323 days of sunshine a year, and water temperatures between 12-26 degrees C, and you gave the perfect recipe for great Mediterranean diving. I’d say a 5mm full-suit is more than sufficient for the summer months (if you are warm-blooded, you may even get away with a 3mm full-suit), but in the autumn and winter, a semi-dry or a drysuit is the preferred option for sure.

From the Editor

Región de Murcia is located in the southeast of Spain, between Almeria and Alicante by the Mediterranean Sea.

The region is a rich mix of dramatic mountainous terrain, barren desert rock, dense forest and fertile agricultural land; the produce from the vineyards in the latter being world-renowned. However, from a diver’s perspective, it is the 252km of coastline – comprising coves, beaches, rocky shorelines and sheer, craggy cliffs – known as the Costa Cálida that will be of most interest. All along this shoreline, at places such as Islas Hormigas, Cabo de Palos, Isla Grosa (marine reserve), Cartagena, La Azohía, Cabo Tiñoso (marine reserve), Mazarrón and Águilas, are shipwrecks, walls and reefs, not to mention some of the healthiest marine life in the Med.

The icing on this tasty Spanish cake is the climate. Murcia basks in an average annual temperature of 18 degrees C, with hot summers topping out close to 40 degrees C and mild winters only dropping to an average of 11-12 degrees C in December and January. Throw in some 323 days of sunshine a year, and water temperatures between 12-26 degrees C, and you gave the perfect recipe for great Mediterranean diving. I’d say a 5mm full-suit is more than sufficient for the summer months (if you are warm-blooded, you may even get away with a 3mm full-suit), but in the autumn and winter, a semi-dry or a drysuit is the preferred option for sure.

HISTORY OF REGIÓN DE MURCIA

The territory known today as Murcia had the influence of Phoenecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs in many areas and this rich history provides a colourful backdrop to any visit.

HISTORY OF REGIÓN DE MURCIA

The territory known today as Murcia had the influence of Phoenecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs in many areas and this rich history provides a colourful backdrop to any visit.

CABO DE PALOS - ISLAS HORMIGAS (MARINE RESERVE)

Cabo de Palos is a large village, with the Mar Menor on one side and the Mediterranean on the other, but the hub is the quaint marina, which is surrounded by a host of restaurants, as well as being home to the dive centres serving the area, not to mention the impressive Visitors Centre of Cabo de Palos, which has literally thousands of diving books, a 3D model of the region, information about the marine park, local seahorse populations, details of shipwrecks including the tragic story of the Sirio, and a small theatre where you can watch documentaries about a range of subjects.

CARTAGENA, LA AZOHIA & CABO TIÑOSO (MARINE RESERVE)

A short distance along the coast from Cabo de Palos you come to the city of Cartagena. It is the largest city along the coast, and boasts more than 3,000 years of history, which is immediately evident when you begin to wander the streets and see the rich tapestry of architecture on display. Half an hour far from there, you find La Azohía, a charming fishing village that is perfect for those looking to chill out and relax when they aren’t diving. It is located exactly at the eastern end of Bay of Mazarrón, and is the second declared marine reserve in the Costa Cálida. The marine wildlife here is very diverse due to the proximity of the Mazarrón shelf, which abruptly drops to a depth of over 1,700m.

CARTAGENA, LA AZOHIA & CABO TIÑOSO

A short distance along the coast from Cabo de Palos you come to the city of Cartagena. It is the largest city along the coast, and boasts more than 3,000 years of history, which is immediately evident when you begin to wander the streets and see the rich tapestry of architecture on display. Half an hour far from there, you find La Azohía, a charming fishing village that is perfect for those looking to chill out and relax when they aren’t diving. It is located exactly at the eastern end of Bay of Mazarrón, and is the second declared marine reserve in the Costa Cálida. The marine wildlife here is very diverse due to the proximity of the Mazarrón shelf, which abruptly drops to a depth of over 1,700m.

MAZARRÓN

Continuing south from Cartagena and La Azohía, you come to Mazarrón. Since it came into being, the name of Mazarrón has been inextricably linked to the mining wealth of its mountain ranges, namely lead, zinc, silver, iron, alum and red ochre. In Phoenician, Punic and Roman times, immense work was carried out in the mines, leaving behind an abundance of archaeological remains, and the Arabs also were attracted to the area for its mineral riches, but its importance rose in the 19th century and early 20th century when iron and galenite were mined, but once the mines were exhausted, Mazarrón developed into an important tourist resort, while simultaneously promoting its seafaring and fishing tradition.

ÁGUILAS

The final diving area as you head south along the coast is accessible from the town of Águilas. The town sprawls along the shoreline, with more than 35 sheltered coves, and is watched over by the picturesque San Juan de las Águilas castle-fortress (first constructed in 1579 and then rebuilt in the 18th century). It can trace its origins back to the Palaeolithic age, with other cultures including Argaric, Phoenician, Roman and Muslim also leaving their heritage behind. It became a boom town in the 19th century, with the construction of a railway line and El Hornillo pier by British companies to enable export of silver, lead and iron, but now it is one of Murcia’s main tourist resorts.

ÁGUILAS

The final diving area as you head south along the coast is accessible from the town of Águilas. The town sprawls along the shoreline, with more than 35 sheltered coves, and is watched over by the picturesque San Juan de las Águilas castle-fortress (first constructed in 1579 and then rebuilt in the 18th century). It can trace its origins back to the Palaeolithic age, with other cultures including Argaric, Phoenician, Roman and Muslim also leaving their heritage behind. It became a boom town in the 19th century, with the construction of a railway line and El Hornillo pier by British companies to enable export of silver, lead and iron, but now it is one of Murcia’s main tourist resorts.

WRECK HOTSPOTS

Región de Murcia is blessed with numerous shipwrecks, lying in a variety of depths which means there is something for all levels of diver, from relative novice to experienced veteran. These include the Isla Gomera, commonly known as El Naranjito due to its final cargo of thousands of oranges; the Lilla, a 120-metre-long Italian steamship also known as the Carbonero due to its final cargo of coal; the SS Stanfield, which is another vast wreck with a length of 120 metres and a beam of 14m, that has been down over 100 years; and the wrecks of Bajo de Fuera – the Nord America, the Minerva and the infamous Sirio.

TOPSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Whatever your pleasure, you are sure to find it in the Región de Murcia. The cities of Murcia and Cartagena boast a rich array of attractions, including a Science and Water Museum, the University of Murcia’s Aquarium, and the Port of Cultures tourist route. For golfing fanatics, Murcia is heaven on Earth, with no less than 22 top-quality courses, while the more-active can hike, horse ride or climb on a mountain bike, or go white-water rafting, climbing, caving, hang-gliding, para-gliding, zip-wiring, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.

TOPSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Whatever your pleasure, you are sure to find it in the Región de Murcia. The cities of Murcia and Cartagena boast a rich array of attractions, including a Science and Water Museum, the University of Murcia’s Aquarium, and the Port of Cultures tourist route. For golfing fanatics, Murcia is heaven on Earth, with no less than 22 top-quality courses, while the more-active can hike, horse ride or climb on a mountain bike, or go white-water rafting, climbing, caving, hang-gliding, para-gliding, zip-wiring, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.

10 THINGS YOU MUST DO

Handy list of some of the ‘must-do-and-see’ things on the Costa Calida, ranging from wrecks, reefs and caves you need to explore underwater, to interesting historical remains, stunning natural wonders and even a rather-potent local coffee drink.

Subscribe to New Destination Guide! Get new guides as they are created.