Wednesday 6 April 2016

The Golfo de Mazarrón

Spain, 29th March – 1st April 2016

After a night of stormy weather we’re currently looking out at cloudy skies from our latest free beachside location, but after days of sunshine we’ve got few complaints to make.  We’ve been in Spain for a month now, and so far it’s been proving a great place to tour in a motorhome.  Our overnight costs for the duration of March have been a grand total of €24; for anyone who is curious as to how we can finance this lifestyle, there’s your answer.  I sense this sum will be significantly higher for the duration of April as the stretch of Spain between here and the French border is known to be stricter on overnight parking and we’ll have to get a few more paying aires/campsites under our belt in order to visit some places (Barcelona, I’m looking at you!), but I still imagine our total costs will be far less than what we’d have to pay for just a few days of hotel accommodation to see the same places.

When we left the beach near Aguilas our five nights of freeparking had left us in pursuit of a service point, so we carried on north to Calnegre where despite it being a tiny little village there are three aires.  The most basic of the three, Taray Camper Park, just over the road from the beach, offered the option of a drive-by service for €3 to empty the grey tank & cassette, but as it was included when you stayed the night we paid €6 to park up (GPS: 37.51528 -1.39949).  The fresh water operated on a coin-based €0.10/10L system and accepted €0.10/0.20/0.50/1.00 coins, making it a great way to use up some of the small change accumulating in my purse from various bread purchases.  The site is run by a guy named Juan, who seemed very friendly towards his customers and told us that at the weekend he’d be cooking up a big paella for everyone to celebrate his birthday; cracking bloke.

A short walk along the stony beach brought us to the small village, where a few houses and three restaurant-bars lining the seafront.  The restaurants had tables spilling out onto the beach at lunchtime which were all full of customers, adding a bit of life to what would otherwise have been a very quiet, sleepy place.  Two weeks of dining in had us drawn in at the thought of a menu del dia, but we’d foolishly made the mistake of having already eaten; we went home, weighing up the merits of coming back at night for something to eat.

The sun was in full swing, and the awning was wound out for its first use since last summer.  The shade it provided was well received by me, as embarrassingly I managed to acquire a somewhat pink glow to my skin and had to retreat away from the heat before fully achieving the red-lobstered tourist look (if my mum is reading this, I would like to assure her sun cream is now in use).  It seems the summer sunshine is rapidly approaching; at least this year we’re timing it so we’ll probably be somewhere up in the Alps rather than sweltering in Greece when it fully hits.

We attempted the restaurants later at night, arriving around half eight when we figured that the locals would be starting to turn up for evening meals.  Either we were still too early, or more likely Calnegre only gets busy as a lunchtime beach destination, because one place was closed and the other two had about half a dozen people between them, none of which were eating.  Instead, we retreated home for a very non-Spanish curry (vegetable, for the record; I’m still keeping my resolution, averaging about 2 meat-free meals a week).

We left the next day, making it a grand total of five miles north before we stopped again at a beach near Cañada de Gallego.  The area north of Calnegre was mainly a collection of plastic sheeted structures towering over the small roads on both sides, using every bit of flat land as potential growing space.  The satnav showed no signs of main roads, as did our road atlas, but one tarmacked road lead through the polytunnel maze towards a beach where vans were parked on an isolated scrap of land by the water (GPS: 37.53500 -1.37230).  A lot of them looked like they’d been parked up for a long time without any worry about being moved, possibly because the spot is so far removed from any main resort.  It’s quietening off in Spain at this time of year as everyone is returning home for the summer, so we managed to get a space on the front row by the sea.

The coast along this stretch is undeveloped for several km, with just a rough dusty track following the sea which made for pleasant walking territory.  A few more enterprising vans had risked the rough track to find even more isolated beach parking spots and there were a couple of fisherman out for the day, but other than that there wasn’t really anyone else around.  The polytunnels encroached as far as possible from the landside, with thousands of tons of earth having been moved in certain areas to create more level ground for growing space.

We’d recently heard from Terry and Barbara, a couple we met in Greece last year who were staying at a campsite at Isla Plana until the start of April, so planned to see them while they were still in the area.  The next town along to them—La Azohia—had a known freeparking spot, so we decided we’d park there and cycle in to meet them.  La Azohia (pronounced like La thoia, with a silent h and the ‘z’ like a ‘th’) is quite a nice little place, with a few bars and restaurants and a beachside promenade.  There are the ruins of a fort, which is a fairly easy climb up to, and has views down over the Golfo de Mazarrón.  There are two main spots where vans park, with one being a large sloping dirt parking area with level terraces and the other a gravelly dried riverbed.  We opted for the parking area (GPS: 37.56366 -1.17379) as it was closer to Isla Plana, and had a chat with the man from the British van next to us.  Turns out that not only does he live in the same town as we did, but he has relatives who live on the same street.  His wife was currently back home, and had reported of frost during the night; no signs of homesickness are currently to be found amongst us.

Behold, the world's most inefficient gate.

We cycled from La Azohia along a palm-lined promenade eventually leading to a dirt path that followed the beach all the way into Isla Plana, where we met Terry and Barbara as well as a few of their friends who were staying in the area over winter.  It was great to have a catch-up and talk with the rest of the group who were a nice bunch, and we were sat outside having drinks until around 7pm in out t-shirts before it finally started to chill off as we lost the sun.  We heard good things about La Chara, one of the local restaurants which was offering a menu del dia; we’d eyed up the menu board earlier and were tempted enough to come back for lunch the following day.  We’ve seen a lot of good food deals lately, but the one here was probably the best so far; we got four courses and bread & dips for an amazing €9.90 per person, topped off with a €3 bottle of wine. This was followed by another session sat out at the waterfront bar drinking €1 beers and €1.50 glasses of wine with Terry, Barbara and friends; someone remind me why we’ve got to go back to the UK?

- Jo


  1. Great blog guys. Got a couple of spots for you that we were in last year. North of Tarragona-Platja Llarga n41.12919 e1.30531 great spot on beach front. Santa Pola (south) n38.14858 w0.63201 near a restaurant (free WiFi). If you are going to Barcelona, I would recommend Camping Barcelona . Kindest Wayne.

    1. Thanks Wayne, we'll make a note of the spot near Tarragona and check it out when we get up there. We actually stayed at the second one you mentioned a few days ago before we went to Alicante, it was a good spot, didn't think to check for WiFi networks though. Barcelona is on the list, probably a week or so from now. I imagine we'll be using a campsite rather than the aire so recommendations are always handy!