8 of the most underrated destinations in the Balearic Islands
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While Ibiza’s nightlife and Mallorca’s beach coves are dreamy holiday destinations for travellers, there’s so much more to the Balearic Islands than its most popular spots.
The main islands in the Balearic archipelago are Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca, though the latter shy away from the typical package tourism and party scene that the other two islands see. Many travellers may not know about Formentera, Cabrera and a number of other small islets and islands part of the Balearics.
The Balearic Islands are at their best from April to October, when the sun is typically shining and the weather ranges from pleasantly warm to hot. And since these islands are often busy during this high season, finding those hidden, less-visited spots can turn an average holiday into one that feels extra special, intimate or far-flung.
From the best-hidden destinations on the more popular islands to the smaller islets you may have never heard of, here are some of the most underrated destinations in the Balearics.
How to get to Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca
Flying nonstop from the U.K. to all three of the main Balearic Islands is quick and easy, with many options available for travellers that want to visit Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca.
British Airways operates nonstop options to all three destinations from various London airports. Expect to spend at least 7,250 Avios peak/8,250 peak in Euro Traveller and 13,500 Avios peak/15,750 Avios off-peak in Club Europe for one-way award flights.
Vueling, Jet2 and easyJet all fly nonstop from London to Menorca, Ryanair, EasyJet, Vueling and Jet2 fly nonstop from London to Ibiza, and Wizzair, Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2 fly nonstop from London to Mallorca. You can also reach Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca nonstop from U.K. airports like Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol on some of the aforementioned low-cost carriers. Flights take around two-and-a-half hours.
It is possible to arrive at the Balearic islands by ferry from certain destinations in mainland Spain. You can also fly from Spanish hubs like Barcelona, Malaga or Madrid if you want to combine an island visit with an urban holiday. Once you’ve arrived at these larger islands, take boats or ferries to explore some of the smaller Balearic islands.
You’ve probably heard of Menorca but perhaps skipped it in lieu of Ibiza’s scene or those cheap package holidays in Mallorca. But the entire island of Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, home to ecosystems like caves, wetlands, ravines, isles and of course, stunning beaches and idyllic coves.
A visit to Menorca will be quieter and more relaxing than heading to Mallorca or Ibiza. There’s less to do, but that’s the point of a Menorcan escape — to relax and rejuvenate, to eat and drink well and enjoy the stunning scenery as you discover and explore the island’s diverse, protected habitats.
2. Portocolom, Mallorca
This colourful seaside village in southeastern Mallorca is a photographer’s dream, from its vibrant, picturesque fisherman huts to the bold white and yellow buildings with bright blue, green and red doors.
The Portocolom Lighthouse is also a must-see, perched high on the Sa Punta cliff. Nearby, dip in the sea at Cala Marçal, a white sand beach just a quick drive away from Portocolom by car.
3. Punta Galera, Ibiza
Party animals visiting Ibiza’s (in)famous San Antonio area can head north for a little nature to visit Punta Galera, a rocky outcrop where visitors can enjoy stunning sea vistas, meditate on the rocks or jump into the clear waters to snorkel and swim.
Nearby, the pebbly Galera beach is also surrounded by the large, ochre stone mesas, ideal for a relaxing afternoon or even to enjoy a beautiful sunset. If you do plan to swim or explore, bringing along some water shoes is a good plan.
Ibiza’s hippy little sister, Formentera, is becoming more and more popular thanks to its exotic white sand beaches and bohemian vibes, as well as an up-and-coming dining scene and more sophisticated nightlife than Ibiza.
While the island does get crowded in the summer months, renting a bike and exploring gives visitors the opportunity to discover small stretches of empty seashore or tranquil pine groves. In fact, a bike is an ideal way to explore the island, as Formentera has a section of ‘Green routes,’ bike lanes taking travellers through beach coves, fisherman docks, vineyards and beyond.
5. Sa Calobra, Mallorca
Home to two beaches divided by a massive river gorge, Sa Calobra is an area tougher to reach, weeding out my tourists that won’t bother to take the time to get there. One of the best ways to reach the beaches is by bike, as the route is famous for its stunning scenery. However, it’s a grueling, uphill ride through the Tramontana mountain range, so it’s best for advanced cyclists — or you can take a boat ride over.
The cliff-flanked cove beaches are Cala Sa Calobra, made up of small rocks and sand. Once there, walk the small, narrow footpath through the tunnel to get to Torrent de Pareis, which is the larger of the two.
6. Las Puertas Del Cielo, Ibiza
Las Puertas del Cielo means the gates of heaven, and it refers to a section of pine-covered coastline along the Pla de Corna and the Sa Penya Esbarrada cliffs. The area’s cliffside views over the glittering Mediterranean are nothing short of spectacular.
And if you want to enjoy a snack or drink while admiring the scenery, a restaurant with the same name, ‘Las Puertas del Cielo,’ sits overlooking the sea and the picturesque Ses Margalides islets.
Part of the Cabrera National Park, Cabrera is the largest of several small islets home to virtually untouched natural scenery. From beach coves to towering cliffs to Mediterranean plants and brush, the island is home to wildlife such as endemic bird species.
The best way to visit Cabrera is a day trip by boat from Mallorca. Once there, embark on one of the self-guided hiking routes, snorkel or swim on the island to admire its pristine flora and fauna both above and underwater.
Escape the crowds in Formentera by taking a day trip to the nearby S’Espalmador Island. It’s actually a privately- owned island, but people are allowed to visit for day trips. Boats leave daily from various points along Formentera, or you can charter your own boat.
Just know that this island is pure sand, lagoon and sun. There aren’t any toilets, restaurants or facilities of any kind, so while you can experience far-flung, near-empty beaches, it’s best to come prepared with food, water and sun cream.
If you’re looking for a sunny summer island holiday but already know that Mallorca’s tacky Magaluf or Ibiza’s raging San Antonio aren’t right for you, there are plenty of spots on both those two islands as well as other Balearic destinations that are less busy and not as popular but just as gorgeous. So, consider a serene holiday in Menorca, a day on S’Espalmador’s white-sand beaches or a nature escape in Cabrera for your next jaunt to the Balearic Islands.
(Featured image of Formentera by George Williams/Getty Images)
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