Mud Baths on the Mar Menor, Spain
Glorious Mud at Lo Pagan
If you're ever enjoying a Spanish Mediterranean holiday and find yourself near the lovely Costa Calida or Costa Blanca, you are within striking distance of the mud bathing area (Banos de Lodo) of the Mar Menor (Minor Sea) which is situated in Spain's Region of Murcia. The Banos de Lodo are located in the Lo Pagan district of the attractive resort of San Pedro del Pinatar which is situated at the northern end of the Mar Menor (see map below). This is just the place to be if you fancy giving your body a health and beauty treatment that won't cost you a thing. If the idea of covering yourself in thick, black, gluey mud and standing around in public until the mud dries doesn't change your mind, then this is article is for you.
Incidentlly, if al fresco mud bathing has no appeal but you still feel like doing something healthy, then simply visit the Mar Menor, find a beach and immerse yourself in its warm, mineral rich water.
The Mar Menor
The Mar Menor
The Mar Menor is a 170 square kilometre salty, shallow lagoon separated from the Mediterranean Sea by La Manga (The Sleeve) which is a 22 kilometre long, narrow sandbar. It is blessed, all year round, with a pleasant and sunny climate and has kilometres of sandy beaches. Its warm, calm waters are not just popular with bathers but also with all types of water sports enthusiasts.
For me, however, its saline, mineral rich water is the ideal place for a spot of free thalassotherapy (the therapeutic use of sea water). I have a dry, flaky skin condition called psoriasis which responds well to sea bathing. Long hours of sunshine raise the sea water temperature considerably and if there's one thing I love it's wallowing around in warm water, especially when I think it's good for me. Given half a chance, I can do it for hours.
The Mud Baths of San Pedro del Pinatar are to be found in a warm, shallow salt water pool which forms part of the salt drying flats (salinas) that extend along this part of the Spanish coast. This area is separated from the Mar Menor by a narrow causeway.
Mud Bathing Area at Lo Pagan - San Pedro del Pinatar
The mud bathing pool can be seen on the left of the above picture. The Mar Menor can be seen through the trees on the right. The causeway that separates the two bodies of water is about three kilometres long.
"Mud, mud glorious mud,
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud!"
The Hippopotamus Song
Flanders and Swann
Map of the Area Mentioned in this Article
I recommend this detailed map if you intend to visit the Cost Blanca
The Mud Baths of Lo Pagan - San Pedro del Pinatar
At Lo Pagan, wooden bathing stations have been constructed where health and beauty seekers of all nationalities come to enjoy free therapeutic mud baths. The Banos de Lodo are highly recommended for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, broken bones and skin conditions.
The therapeutic properties of mud and clay have been known for millennia. The thick black mud that can be found under the shallow waters of the salt flats are said to be rich in such health giving minerals as calcium, magnesium and potassium. The water of the salt flats is even richer than the mineral rich water of the Mar Menor itself.
How to Take a Mud Bath
Do's and Don'ts
If you visit Lo Pagan in order to take a mud bath for the first time, take note. On my first visit, I covered myself in mud from head to foot, stood in the sun for an hour to let it dry, then washed it off in the approved manner. I was surprised to find that I felt quite ill for a while. The detoxing effect of the mud can be both immediate and powerful. Also, some authorities suggest that you should first try putting the mud on a small area of skin to test for any adverse reactions.
Pick a nice warm day and take a small bucket or half a plastic water bottle with you in which to gather the mud. If you forget this, other bathers are usually very willing to share their mud with you. You walk along the causeway to the bathing stations and change into your bathing suit, if you haven't done so already.
You then enter the shallow and surprisingly warm water of the salt flat pool and feel around with your toes until you find something squishy underfoot. This is the stuff your'e after. (It's best not to wear shoes as the mud will pull them off.) You then scoop up the mud, return to the bathing platform and proceed to slap it where you will on your body. A partner is useful in order to help you reach the bits you can't get at. Many people only apply the mud to problem areas such as knees, elbows and faces.
Stand in the sun until all the mud dries. If you need a respite from the sun there are trees planted along the causeway which offer some shade. It is thought an hour is the optimal amount of time required, although it may be wise to try a much lesser period of time on your first visits.
When you are ready, return to the pool, wash off all the dried mud and enjoy a lovely long wallow in its warm water. (I am told that the mud must always be washed off in the salt flat pool and never in the Mar Menor.) It's a good idea to have a sponge handy as the mud can sometimes be quite stubborn to remove.
Wallowing in the warm water of the salt flat pool is part of the treatment and is my favourite part. It is such a pleasant experience that you will probably notice that some folk are here so long that they appear to be permanent fixtures!
In order to get the greatest benefit from your treatment, it is recommended not to shower for several hours afterwards.
People Enjoying a Day Out at Lo Pagan
Mud Bathing - What do You Think?
Would you like to take a mud bath?
Mud Bathing Folklore at Lo Pagan
Some enthusiasts believe that for the treatment to be really effective the mud covered bather should walk between the two windmills that are situated one at each each of the causeway. This is a six kilometre round trip and is best undertaken by those wearing suitable footwear and a sun hat and carrying drinking water. It is also said that the only certain way to perfect health is to repeat the above procedure a total of nine times during your stay in the area. If this is not possible then the treatments should finish in an odd number. Another thing I have heard is that the bather, having washed off the mud and soaked in the brine, should then seek out an area nearby where salt can be found drying in the sun and rub the crystals into his or her skin
I haven't, as yet, done any of the things mentioned in this section. This, perhaps, accounts for why my treatments greatly alleviate my symptoms but don't completely cure the problem!
More about Mud Therapy, the Mar Menor and the surrounding area
- Info on the Mar Menor
Wikipedia - Information on the Mar Mar Menor and surrounding area.
- Hotels and Spas
Hotels and spas offering professional mud therapy and thalassotherapy treatments.
- More on Mud Bathing
General info on benefits of mud bathing
- San Pedro del Pinatar Tourist Information
General information on this Mar Menor resort
- Lo Pagan Tourist Info
Tourist information on on Lo Pagan and its mud baths
- La Manga Tourist Info
Tourist Information and video on La Manga