Lying at the base of the La Manga (strip), Cabo de Palos is best known for its lighthouse, which can be seen from many points around the Mar Menor. The grey stone lighthouse is 81 metres high and stands proudly on a rocky headland at the southern point of La Manga, which is the thin strip of land that separates the Mar Menor from the Mediterranean Sea. Construction was started in 1863, but it took two years to build and was first lit on 31st January 1865.
Like many fishing villages in this area, Cabo de Palos can be traced back to Carthaginians and Romans, being part of the municipality of Cartagena. It lies to the South East of Cartagena and consists of small coves, with the long beaches of La Manga to one side and Calblanque Nature Reserve to the other. Cala Tunez is the cove by the lighthouse which is very popular with divers and fishermen alike.
Access to some of the other coves like Cala Fria, Cala Roja, Cala Galera and La Botella can sometimes be difficult, however, it is so worth the struggle, as the water in that area is so clear and clean and very often deserted. Walks along the narrow coastal paths are also very popular where in some places it gets very close to the edge. The nearby Isla Hormigas has an excellent marina reserve and is well worth a visit.
The tiny fishing village of Cabo de Palos has not been with out its problems, the most tragic being in 1906 when the Sirius ship with 822 passengers hit the rocks. Many of the passengers perished in the deep cold waters and the use of the lighthouse was put into doubt. Incredibly, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that electricity and running water came to the village. Eventually, telephones were also installed bringing the rest of Murcia into the village.
In Easter Week there is a special procession of the fishermen. On Maundy Thursday they carry an image of the Virgin through the streets of Cabo de Palos. There is also a procession on 16th July when fishing boats are decorated in honour of the Virgin de Carmen, the Saint of Cabo de Palos.
The main village is based around the port and small marina, with restaurants and bars which are open all year round, offering the best seafood in the area. The Sunday market starts around 8.30am where you will find stalls ranging from fruit and vegetables, to clothes, sunglasses and toys. In the centre of the market there are a couple of bars offering a welcome stop and occasionally you will find musicians playing their piped music.
Next time you’re in the area, take the time to visit this charming fishing village as it’s well worth a visit.