The Balearic Islands are an ideal escape for holidaymakers or charter guests. In addition to a glorious climate, which drenches the archipelago’s pine-clad hills in year-round sun, the Balearics offer some wonderful food, plenty of historical texture and a sliding scale of culture and indulgence.
Four Mallorcan towns particularly worth seeking out include Deia, Pollença, Porto Cristo and Colonia Sant Jordi. Deia, up in the northwest of the island, is a pretty, winding town built into steep hills in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range with lovely views out to sea. If you head to the northernmost part of the same mountain range, the town of Pollença is a very suave place set amongst stunning countryside with a café-lined square, a Sunday street market, and a lively events calendar.
The south of the island is defined by more earthy fishing villages and Porto Cristo, a quiet Mallorcan village with a natural harbour, is one of the best. Though it’s quite remote, it has all the facilities you need for an extended stay, as well as easy access to the impressive Cuevas del Drach underground caves. And if you want a traditional coastal village largely untouched by tour operators, Colonia Sant Jordi in the far southeast has a laid-back marina, with a scattering of eateries and easy access to the nature reserve at nearby Cabrera island.
Look towards the centre of the island, where Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera continues to enthral. As with most towns in this part of the world, the heart of the place revolves around the central square, where a long lazy lunch has become something of an art form. There is also a very active culture of markets in Ibiza, most of them with a charming hippy vibe that endures from the 60s. So, while you’re exploring the island’s interior, take the time out to visit another exponent of that ethos in the form of the Paloma Restaurant in San Lorenzo.
If beaches are your thing, Ibiza is outstanding. While Cala Saldada and Es Portixol are both superb, the difficulty of reaching Cala Llentrisca by foot makes it one of the very best beaches for those on a yacht charter. It’s a compact beach in a crescent-shaped inlet with a ramshackle arrangement of fishing boat sheds and a small timber jetty that provides the ideal base for diving.
While Mahon is the capital of Menorca, its modest scale, unhurried pace and intimate atmosphere make it feel very much like an exclusive escape. It clings to a ridge above a saltwater inlet at the apex of a vast natural port and impresses with the elegance of its Georgian-style architecture and the happy inclusivity of its alfresco food scene. The Nuestra Señora de Gràcia Festival in September is a riotous time to visit. That said, as the island’s original capital, the west coast town of Ciutadella is equally appealing. It marries an active fishing fleet with a slick yacht charter scene, blending a working port with brightly coloured waterfront restaurants.
If you’re keen to get more active, Binibeca Vell is a 70’s village conjured into existence by Spanish architect Antonio Sintes Mercadal, just five miles or so from Mahon. In his attempts to replicate the character of a traditional Menorcan fishing village, he arranged a maze of low-slung whitewashed houses around a compact harbour. As a quirky spot for some family watersports, it takes some beating.
Perched out on a limb, seven miles south of Ibiza, Formentera is a rocky little island that can only be accessed by sea. In relation to the rest of the Balearics, that tends to mean that any destination here feels just a touch exclusive. If you want to make the most of the island’s elemental simplicity, that’s easily done simply by circling the coastline in pursuit of a deserted cove or heading inland on a hike.
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