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Las Salinas de Torrevieja offer a peaceful respite in a thriving resort community on the Mediterrean coastline of Spain's Costa Blanca. The two natural lakes are saltier than sea water, and Laguna Salada de Torrevieja is even pink! Set within a natural park dedicated to their protection, Laguna Salada de Torrevieja and Laguna Salada de la Mata have long held an important place in early Spanish history. Records show salt extraction from around the shorelines was in full swing in the early 14th century. This industry still continues. Neither lake supports a fish population due to the high salt content, but both hold brine shrimp and micro-organisms especially suited to highly salty water. Laguna Salada de Torrevieja is pink because of the proliferation of a particular species of algae that thrives in the briny lake.
A nature reserve of over 9000 acres completely surrounds the two lakes. Within its borders live many kinds of native wildlife. Over 200 species of birds are counted as a part of the natural landscape, not the least of which is the flamingo. Over 2000 pairs of flamingos have been counted here during breeding season, outnumbered only by the 3000 pairs of black-necked grebe. Marsh harrier, stilts, shelduck, avocets, Kentish plover, curlew, common tern and little tern flock to the lakeshore. Although the lake itself supports almost no vegetation, salt marshes along the margins have developed wherever inflowing water enters. The small inflows provide the humidity missing in this arid climate for numerous wetland reeds and rushes to grow. Less saline areas support tamarisks and evergreens. Some marsh areas provide the conditions necessary to support wild orchids. The reserve is open in many areas for walking, and a road encompasses most of the reserve. A ridge separates the two lakes, and easternmost Laguna Salada de la Mata receives more run-off from surrounding hills during the short winter rainy season. Although there is no swimming or boating allowed on the lakes, walking, bicycling, bird watching, and nature observation are encouraged.
Salt is still excavated from Laguna Salada de Torrevieja. A short man-made channel connects the lake to the Mediterranean Sea where the salt is loaded on ships for transport. The ocean is only half a mile from the lakeshore, but the ecology of the two water bodies is very different. In the 1800s, an effort was made to dig a channel from Laguna Salada de la Mata to the sea to facilitate a possible fishery as well as to transport salt. The lake proved to be too salty to support fish, so the plan was abandoned and the main saltworks moved to Laguna Salada de Torrevieja. Salt production remains the main industry of the City of Torrevieja which lies between the lakes and the ocean. The climate provided by the two salt lakes and the ocean first drew tourists and expatriates from Europe to this former fishing and salt mining village. Now supporting a population of over 100,000, Torrevieja and the surrounding small towns offer visitors and residents a prime location along the Costa Blanca for beach activities and plenty of sun.
The Torrevieja area provides residential hotels, traditional lodgings, and restaurants serving family-dinner-type meals and local specialties. Regattas are held here involving sailors from all along the coast, and an annual event selects the year's Queen of Salt and her court. The annual Carnival draws many visitors and has incorporated a tourist celebration into the mix. Add the May Fair and many locally celebrated feast days, and traditions infuse the area with a festive air of celebration to the delight of all. A festival of International Chamber Music provides classical recitals for the enjoyment of the public, and such cultural offerings as the Museum of Sea and Salt provide an ethnographic view of Torrevieja's history. Two floating museums are located in the Torrevieja Harbor: the Daphne-class Submarine S-61 Dolphin on loan from the Spanish Armada, and the Patrolman Albatross III Floating Museum. Torrevieja holds a wealth of historic religious structures and their attendant religious ceremonies. Many parks, libraries, water parks and leisure activities keep residents and visitors occupied.
The villages of Los Montesinos and San Miguel de Salinas are a short distance from Las Salinas lakes. Both serve as home to many expatriates and seasonal residents who come here to enjoy the climate and the joys of the Mediterranean beaches. The area is about 30 miles south along the coast from the larger city of Alicante. Bigger beach resorts and more big-city entertainment are never far away. The two natural salt lakes provide a unique environment, and some apartments for lease overlook the reserve to the lakes beyond. There is no lakefront development along the shorelines, but any apartment above ground level will likely command a view of either the lakes or the ocean. Fishing charters can be arranged for ocean fishing, and the harbor holds several marinas with a large number of slips and yachting facilities.
There is no better place in Spain to enjoy small village atmosphere, a healthy salt-air environment, Mediterranean beaches, and a natural pink salt lake. Real estate in scenic locations and in a variety of price ranges is available. Come spend some time in this lovely, laid-back place, and you may never want to leave.
* Statistics listed are for the two lakes together. Laguna Salada Torrevieja is 3459 acres and Laguna Salada de la Mata is 1730 acres.
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