Cabo de Palos is a rocky headland which juts out into the Mediterranean in the south-east of the Region of Murcia, adjoining the 21-kilometre spit of La Manga del Mar Menor to the north and the southern coastline of the municipality of Cartagena to the south and west. It is known to have been inhabited by Man for millennia, and for many centuries was an important fishing port as well as a military vigilance point of strategic importance.
The most outstanding landmark in the town is the lighthouse, which came into service in 1865 at the top of the promontory and is a must for anyone visiting Cabo de Palos, and all of those making the trip will also inevitably gravitate towards the port and marina. This dual facility is located on the southern shore of the headland, and is still the hub of social and economic activity in the town: alongside the fishermen who are constantly at work there are a cluster of shops, bars and restaurants, all of which do a busy trade most of the year round.
The permanent population of Cabo de Palos is not large, but there is a constant stream of visitors, many of whom are attracted by the numerous dive centres in the area. The marine reserve of Cabo de Palos and Islas Hormigas is one of the most popular destinations for lovers of underwater exploration in Spain, offering a chance to observe not only the marine fauna which inhabits the volcanic underwater rocks but also various wrecks which have fallen foul of inclement conditions around the rocky headland over the centuries. The most famous of these was the Sirio, a transatlantic liner which ran aground in 1906 with approximately 1,000 people on board: it is believed that around 250 lost their lives.
Dive tourism is an important part of life in Cabo de Palos, but as the Costa Cálida has become more popular its coastal location, close to both the Mediterranean and the Mar Menor, has ensured that the town has grown considerably as numerous holiday homes have been built. The beaches in and around Cabo de Palos range from tiny rocky coves to long swathes of golden sand, all of them washed by the clear water of this part of the Mediterranean.
Cabo de Palos is far from a ghost town in winter, but in summer the population swells significantly as holiday homeowners flock to the coast. Many come to enjoy the beaches and the sea, of course, but other attractions include the numerous coastal walks in the area (including the Calblanque regional park), the local gastronomy (which boasts the delicious “caldero” fish and rice dish) and summer festivals such as the Habaneras musical event which takes place every July or August, either by the lighthouse or outside the church next to the port.
On 15th August, in common with various other coastal locations in southern Spain, to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a maritime procession of the figure of the “Virgen del Mar” is held in Cabo de Palos, marking the central event of the busy summer season.
All in all Cabo de Palos is a charming and enjoyable place to visit, affording spectacular scenery all around the headland and further along the coast to the south-west and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere which will leave a pleasant taste even in the mouths of the visitors who don’t try the caldero!
Where is Cabo de Palos?
Cabo de Palos is located at the south-eastern tip of the Region of Murcia, and is reached by taking the RM-12 dual carriageway towards La Manga del Mar Menor, turning off to the right at the "Kilometre 0" junction. For further information click map.