The Costa Calida is located in the southeast corner of Spain and incorporates the famous La Manga Club which is widely regarded as being one of Europe's top tourist complexes. The coastline to the south of La Manga was largely overlooked by foreign tourists until relatively recently. But the combination of low cost housing and year-round sunshine (Calida means hot) are now proving powerful magnets for international holidaymakers, Russian investors and thousands of British ex-pats who have bought permanent or holiday homes here.
The average annual temperature here is 20C, the area has less than 40 days of rain a year and the sea temperature rarely falls below 18C. The Costa Calida is easily accessed by air - foreign visitors fly into Murcia's San Javier airport or the major international airport of Alicante, an hour's drive to the north.
The World Health Organisation recently declared the province of Murcia the cleanest area in Spain with the least industrial pollution. The Mar Menor sea inlet, Europe's biggest salt-water lagoon created by the spit of land known as La Manga del Mar Menor, is believed to have great curative properties for ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis.
During the long hot summer months, the water temperature of the Mar Menor rises to that of a warm bath so it's the ideal place to master sports such as sailing, windsurfing, water and jet ski-ing (if you're not too rheumatic or arthritic!). The shallow lagoon is a 170 square metre natural water park providing safe bathing for children and an ideal training base for those wanting to learn a water sport.
The Mar Menor forms the northern boundary of the exclusive La Manga Club - a 1,400-acre holiday paradise for those intent on some serious self-indulgence. The resort was once voted European category winner in the World Travel Awards and it's easy to see why. It boasts three world-class golf courses, one of the finest tennis centres in Europe, superb restaurants and every sport and leisure facility imaginable.
The resort has a five-star Hyatt Hotel with a casino but otherwise holiday accommodation is provided within villages of self-catering villas and apartments, most of which have access to excellent communal facilities such as indoor and outdoor pools with waterfalls, spa baths and poolside bars.
You'll need money to burn if you're staying at La Manga so if you're travelling on a tight budget head for one of the relatively new developments further south. Until recently house prices here have been amongst the cheapest in Spain creating a boom in the construction of holiday properties. The result is that plenty of affordable villas and apartments are available to rent in areas such as Mazaron and Aguilas.
At the southern end of the Costa is the popular resort of Mojácar, a beautiful Moorish hilltop town in the province of Almeria. The old town is a delightful cluster of ancient whitewashed buildings served by narrow, winding streets. The beachfront is a 24-hour playground in the summer months with plenty of watersports and leisure activities by day and a lively nightlife consisting of everything from bingo and karaoke to flamenco shows and all-night clubs. The nearby fishing port of Garrucha is famous for its excellent seafood restaurants where you can savour the fresh catch of the day.