Las Salinas y Arenales Regional Park, in San Pedro del Pinatar, also known as Las Salinas de San Pedro del Pinatar or San Pedro del Pinatar Regional Park, is located in the northern part of the Mar Menor.
This park, which is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, is a natural environment of over 850 hectares consisting of sandbanks, traditional fishing activity, and salt flats that have been under exploitation since ancient times—activities that are carried out in harmony with the environment and under the criteria of sustainable development.
San Pedro del Pinatar is a municipality in the province of Murcia whose name derives from the extensive forest called “El Pinatar” in its time, given its abundance of pines. It occupied a large part of the territory of today's municipality, as well as the hermitage dedicated to the cult of Saint Peter the Apostle, built by the Franciscan friars in the 17th century, as most of the inhabitants of the area were fishermen.
The locals finally joined both names and started calling it San Pedro del Pinatar.
Las Salinas y Arenales Regional Park is today a crossing territory for flocks of flamingos on their way to Africa and also for nesting. It is estimated that more than 100 species of birds nest in it. It is also a resting area for other bird species, which is why it has been declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).
You can find seagulls, albatrosses, herons, and owls. The park has mobile dunes with characteristic flora: sea lilies, rushes, and reeds.
The bird observatories or observation posts of Las Salinas y Arenales Regional Park are mandatory stops.
In addition to its undoubted natural value, this park has great historical value due to salt, a product of inestimable value in antiquity and an important element in the confrontation between the Carthaginians and Romans.
It could not be otherwise, as salt was used for the preservation of perishable foods that had to be transported due to their importance to the diets of the armies, whose members had to carry out strenuous marches and wage fierce combat.
Las Salinas de San Pedro del Pinatar continues to be an important engine for the local and regional economy. The state-owned company Salinera Española is in charge of developing the activities, producing a wide variety of salts, including “Flor de Sal”, a gourmet product that can be purchased natural or mixed with spices.
Its coastal area has always been characterized by the conservation of valuable grasslands of Posidonia oceanica, an aquatic plant endemic to the Mediterranean Sea that is essential for gauging the health of the sea.
Fishing activity is also an attraction in the park. It is carried out under the technique of the hardened ones put into practice since the time of the Phoenicians. It is a barrier of reeds arranged in the sea at one of the points of communication between the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean Sea, in such a way that it cuts off the passage of fish, which are then forced to cross a labyrinth that leads them to the nets.
Another attraction of the Regional Park of San Pedro del Pinatar, with important consequences for health, are the mud baths. There is a good chunk of shoreline that invites visitors to take a dip in the creamy, dark gray, nutrient-laden mud.
People with chronic pain or skin diseases experience improvements with successive baths of this mud.
One can enjoy sports activities such as hiking or bicycle rides in this park, as there is a set of fully signposted routes for walking and an express lane for bicycles. One can make stops at the informative panels with extensive data about the flora and fauna of this regional park.