Menorca is said to be suffering from something called the Spanish Myth Syndrome: you can’t find anything more than sunshine, sea and sangria.
It’s true – Menorca doesn’t do hot clubs like Ibiza. It feels anything but industrial or commercial. You’ll be amazed at just how much green surrounds you. Most of the roads are bumpy, sandy or do not exists at all. There is only one highway that connects the two main cities – Mahon on the east, the main city, and Ciutadella on the west.
Menorca is full of free things to do. You could spend a week just exploring the many beaches of the island which range from vast sandy strips to hidden coves. Stroll along Mahon Harbor the longest natural harbor in the Mediterranean and go up the hill for a glimpse from above. Have a lobster stew at S’Amarador restaurant at Ciutadella’s Harbor right before sunset. Then have a drink at Cova d’en Xoroi, a bar set into caves in Menorca’s rocky south coast. It is popular mainly because of its location right above the sea and its amazing views of the setting sun that burns the evening into life. In fact dusk is the most beautiful time of day in Menorca but also across Spain and the Balearic islands. When the sun fades away, the day and the night flow into each other. The sun dipping through the buildings, blurring everything to a gold that melts the streets.
Menorca has so many secret beaches (Circa 130!). One of the best way to explore them is by boat or to follow Cami the Cavalls. It’s a coastal path used since 1330 by horse riding guards to protect the island. Cavalls means horses, from there the name of the path. There are many excursions, bike and hiking routes easy to follow even without a map.
Menorca’s beaches vary depending on whether you’re in the north or south of the island. Northern one are generally larger with panoramic views and coarser sand of varying colours. They can be more exposed to wind and waves on less calm days. Southern beaches have fine white sand and are backed by pine forested cliffs.
The beaches on the northern coast (such as Cala Pilar, Cala Pregonda, Cala Presili) are wild, wide and windswept. Those in the south are sheltered, womb-like coves where the sea has a colour of almost Caribbean intensity.
Playas de Sur
This large horseshoe-shaped bay is surrounded by cliffs and has shallow warm waters and excellent snorkelling. It is also perfect for families.
Cala Mitjana e Mitjaneta
Cala Mitjana is one of the first of Menorca’s virgin beaches to be made accessible via car and has two water caves, a three-minute drive from Cala Galdana. It has two sea caves – a smaller one close to the beach with another small beach inside, plus a much larger cave, which is great for snorkeling. But because Cala Mitjana gets busy, swim around a headland to Mitjaneta, painted in a palette of dark green pines, pale white limestone, silver sand and teal water. There’s only room for 20 or so sunbathers so be sure to get there early.
Cala Macarella & Macarelleta
Macarella is the larger of the two beaches and the busiest in the summer months. But they’re both idyllic coves with fine, white sand and turquoise water lapping at the shore. Macarelleta is a short walk away via Cami de Cavalls offering a great view over both beaches.
Cala En Turqueta
This beautiful beach is a 20-25 minute walk from Cala Galdana and is at its best early in the morning or late in the evening when there are fewer people there.
Though new boat-taxis from Cala Galdana mean more sunbathers – if you’re active, the 45-minute coastal walk from Sant Tomas is beautiful. Escorxada retains a virgin beauty – a sliver of pale sand and clear azure water cradled between pine-draped cliffs. Bliss.
Notwithstanding one sandy notch, you lay a towel on a rocky foreshore. So, why come? For astonishing water. Plunge off the rocks and you drift in a sea that is not just aqua but which glitters with a pale, sapphire brilliance.
Playas del Norte
Soft rusty sand, glassy water and strange islets sculpted by the wind – Pregonda is the stuff of postcards. Bring your snorkelling gear: you’re in Menorca’s marine reserve, where fish flit through the Posidonia grass meadows between islets. Park near the beach of Binimel·là, but keep going on following Cami de Cavalls and you’ll find the beach.
No beach in Menorca whispers Caribbean like this ribbon of white sand before water the colour of lapis lazuli. Wallow in warm shallows and gaze to a candystriped lighthouse on Cap de Favàritx.
All photos by Nook Twelve