I discovered La Manga when looking for a cheap holiday. People might overlook it because it is considered a golfing resourt. You should take a closer look. Holiday rentals are great and there is plenty of flights at cheap rates to the area.
Rental, flights and car hire
As usual, we have left our holiday planning to the very end. To the end when you do not think you can get anything you can even afford. However, spend some time online. The best places to look for are the ones that have good and cheap flight connections and offer direct rental from the owners.
As usual, my favorite site for rentals is www.villarenters.com . That’s where I came across rentals in La Manga, Spain. After checking the flight to nearby airports I though there is a bargain to be had. I have called up a couple of rental places and negotiated a deal on bungalow rental for 2 weeks. One of the reasons I thought La Manga is good for us as a family is the fact that they have a lot of activities for all ages.
The area of La Manga del Mar Menor lies right at the most southern part of the Costa Blanca. Depending on which map you look at, La Manga is situated on the Costa Calida to be precise.
The area of the Mar Menor ( little sea ) is almost totally separated from the Mediteranean Sea due to the “La Manga del Mar Menor” which means “the sleeve of the little sea”. This very small strip of land is around 13 miles long and makes up the lagoon of Mar Menor which making it a size of 160 sq. km., a very interesting natural attraction.
It is fascinating to see this kind of sea which looks like a little lake when you stand on the La Manga strip and look inwards. The entire Mar Menor is at its deepest spot is only 8 meters deep and maintains a water temperature of 17 Celsius on the average.
La Manga Club has always been synonymous with golf, and with its three elegant championship courses and outstanding practice facilities, it is perhaps hardly surprising that it has been voted Europe’s top golf resort twice in the past five years. This 1,400 acre luxury leisure resort is a sporting paradise for all golfers.
To reach La Manga, you can fly into a number of locations in Spain. The closest airport is Murcia. However, we found much cheaper flights to Alicante. Even with car rental it is cheaper than flying to Murcia and taking a taxi!
We booked flights with the budget airline, Monarch. Although you have to pay airport fees, taxes and luggage they still offer you a flexibility of reserving the seats together (which is quite important for the family) and you can also change you flights right up to 24 hours with £27 per person + difference in flight prices.
If you are booking a late flight you can get a middle of the night rentals from a number of rentals at the airport. Do try and book it ahead to save time and money. A Tip: Bring your own chidren’s car seat or just buy one on arrival. To rent one is way more expensive than just to pop up into local shop and pick one up.
Do you need a car?
You don’t if you are ready to walk in 32 Celsius heat to carry your groceries and going to restaurants, and participating in activities. So, I suggest get a car! We found it much cheaper to fly to the major airport ( Alicante) and then renting a car. Its about 1.5 hours drive to La Manga. Compare a car rental for 2 weeks for around £230 to a taxi ride from Murcia airport (20 min) at £90!
First impression counts! It always counts!
La Manga resourt consists of a large security guarded area. To enter, you get your car plate scanned and at night there is plenty of guards and guards with dogs on the streets.
La Manga Club consists of a number of communities. Each one is located around a local pool. Guests at any of the villages can use pools around the resourt and also get discounts on sports activities.
We ended up renting Golf Bungallow because I really wanted a ground floor place. There is only about 20 bungalows so the pool is never very busy. Being a guest at the Golf Bungallow you also get to use the pool and aminites of the Hotel right next to the bungalows.
The bungalow was spacious, clean and included beach towels, cooking essentials and a special welcome package of useful items in the fridge to get you going before you venture to the supermarket. Bungalows have outside BBQ and sun beds, inside fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, cloth washing machine, internal garden and air conditioning in all the rooms. It also includes sattelite tv and friday cleaning.
Due to the fact there is only about 20 families at a time, and they usually have kids, kids get to know each other and enjoy spending time playing ans swimming together.
La Manga Club offers a lot of activities.
There is a Bootcamp that takes place at the Las Lomas village at the Spa hotel on top of the mountain. Needless to say, the spa and te gym are also there. You can enroll in numerous classes as well.
There is a fantastic Tennis Academy run by professional players. It runs every week with kid being split by age and ability. #1 Son enjoyed it very much and still had the energy to keep swimming in the pool for hours after!
My partner has joined and completed a one week boot camp. He found it up to the standard! The bootcamp takes place at the spa hotel mentioned above.
If you go shopping at the supermarket El Arbola you will find a mountain biking place. Not only my partner was able to rent a bike, he also went mountain biking in fantastic areas with great guides and met some people he knew.
We have not participated but expect it to be as good as tennis academy.
Horse Riding is also offered at La Manga and based on friend’s feedback it’s very good. I cannot verify this as we never participated in it.
We booked a private kyaking for the 3 of us. It was fantastic. We drove to Mar Menor area to meet the instructor who provided us with all the necessary equipment.
After that we kyaked on the Mar Menor to the North and then back. After kyaking he offered us all th equipment to do some snorkeling which our #1 son enjoyed very much. Our guide spoke English and was a very interesting person.
Around La Manga
One thing you need to know when you stay in La Manga is that it is very focused on sports and activities. Due to that it also has a limited number of night entertainment. And the ones you do find are as pricey as the ones in the UK.
Cabo das Palas
We went for a dinner at Cabo das Palas which had a number of restaurants to offer. Succumbing to my desire for seafood paella we went to a fish restaurant Miramare. Suffice to say my paella was out of this world!
Mar Menor – The little sea
This is where the natural lagoon is formed around the island. And this is where we went for our kayaking experience.
Mar Menor is crystal clear. This is because it has attracted a large number of jelly fish which apparently eats up all the excess rubbish.
If you did not know this yet, a fact: brown jelly fish are harmless. The white ones will give you a sting, but a tiny one, so there is no need to worry about it.
The Jelly fish is all around the Mar Menor beach because someone had broken the net protection that stops them.
One of the evenings we decided to drive around the area.
It seems that there used to be a large mining area in the mountains surrounding La Manga. At the moment it is abandoned and the only reminder left is the road through the old mining mountains. The buildings are very representative of the past era.
We never went to La Union but heard good things about Sunday Market there.
Trip to Cartagena was not what I expected. The city is full of loud noises from all the construction going on. However, being the only big city nearby if you have not experienced Spain before, its worth a visit.
Places to eat
La Manga club is not the best representative of Spanish cusine. The restaurants are overpriced. And food does not stand up to it.
A short lay down on places we ate at.
Hotel Principe Filippe
We had a lovely brunch at the hotel. It also has a great Sole e Sombre bar at the pool where you can enjoy a lovely overpriced lunch 🙂
Bar 37 is closed after 6 pm.
Rubbish overpriced food.
Luigi’s – village of Las Lomas
Really enjoyed this restaurant at the Las Lomas village. The italian they offered was inventive and tasty.
La Finca is owned by a british couple. The food has the british sentiment as well. But on the high end. I believe it was not offered in such a heat it would have become very popular.
Lovely atmosphere, nice breakfast but that’s pretty much it.
Loads of space and things to do for the kids. Fairly priced as well, but do not expect any Spanish food. Mostly, English pub food. They also have a sort of “tribute” evenings to famous stars in the evenings.
La Ganacha (Las Lomas)
The place is new, just as you enter Los Bolones. Great tapaz and mains. Compare to La Manga prices this is cheeeeeap!
BBQ at the tennis centre
Every Tuesday, there is a family BBQ at the tennis centre. The food is great and you get to meet other parents of similar age. Their kids as well. There is live music and the singer is really quite good. According to the old English tradition by the end of the evening everyone is trying to get on the stage with the singer and show off their talent in dancing and.. singing.
The day before we were leaving there was a fire at the nearby village of Portman. For almost 24 hours we could see the smoke behind the mountains and firefighter helicopters and planes carrying water to stop the fire.
There is never a good holiday without a Gecko sighting! 🙂