By Sara Millbank
Facing the Mar Menor and about 49km from Murcia, is the charming resort town of San Pedro del Pinatar. Located on the N-332 coast road between Los Alcazares and Pilar de la Horadada, San Pedro is situated perfectly for the coast line of Costa Cálida and Costa Blanca as it borders with the province of Alicante. San Pedro has a small peninsula with 14km of coastline between the Mediterranean Sea and the Mar Menor with an average height of only 13m above sea level.
For most of the year the resident inhabitants are around 23,000, but the large tourist population can almost double this in July and August. This little town is very busy with a good range of restaurants, bars and shops and a marina with facilities for water sports, fishing and similar activities. Many rich Spaniards have purchased holiday homes in San Pedro and people of Murcia head for the town in the hot summer months.
San Pedro is also surrounded by golf courses both new and established, with Orihuela Costa just 15 minutes away, but also close by is La Manga, Roda, La Torre Golf resort and Mar Menor Golf Resort. There is also sailing, scuba diving, wind surfing, snorkelling and jet skiing on offer in the busy marina and a weekly street market on Mondays. It is also only 5 minutes drive from Murcia (San Javier) Airport.
The history of San Pedro del Pinatar goes back as far as 2,600BC when Iberian settlers and Phoenician mariners and traders sailed along the coastline. The Romans also were known to have settled here during the conquest of Cartagena. They built villas along the coast and were the first people to use the salt which exists in great quantities in both the nearby salt lagoons and the Mar Menor itself.
The Romans extracted and exported the salt, but also established spas along the Mar Menor for health and recuperative purposes, as was their way. The famous mud baths of Lo Pagan are nearby and could well have been started by the Romans. Today people with various aliments are attracted to the area to use the baths and apply the healing mud to their limbs.
However, a known story of how the town got its name begins in the 17th century when a hermitage dedicated to the apostle San Pedro (Saint Peter the fisherman) was constructed in the town, which was known at the time as El Pinatar. As a large proportion of residence were fishermen, it was decided to rename the town San Pedro del Pinatar, which translates as ‘Saint Peter of Pinewood’ referring to the large number of pine trees which grew in the area.