Spain’s Balearic Islands have long been a holiday hotspot with Europeans, and are well known of course for their exotic party scene. However, this Mediterranean archipelago offers much more than its nightlife, with hidden bays, gorgeous country roads, jaw dropping landscapes and, of course, the Mediterranean cuisine. The four major islands, Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, plus a number of smaller islets including Cabrera, Dragonera, and S’Espalmador, are ideal cruising destinations, and we’ve selected the very best yachts for charter in that region.
Below is an overview of the primary islands, in order of a suggested 7 day itinerary.
Mallorca is the biggest island in the Balearic chain, whose capital city of Palma is also the capital of the community of Balearic Islands. Mallorca is an extremely popular holiday destination, especially from June to September, though you can still find ways to avoid the masses during these months. The West Coast beaches are far less traveled, and day trips into the mountains of Sierra de Tramuntana (a World Heritage Site) are great respites.
La Palma is a destination all of its own, with a charming old quarter and a Gothic cathedral in the center. Palma is the wealthiest city in Spain’s richest province and its residents are purely cosmopolitan. Reflective of its bigger sister across the water, Barcelona, Palma’s ancient harbor is a collection of bright cafes, cocktail bars, fashion shops and art galleries. Known for their fantastic tapas, known here as pintxos, are artful assemblages of local fare – seaweed, spelt, prawns and of course, Manchego. One of the most coveted anchorages, the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime Park was off limits as a military base until 1988. It’s 19 gorgeous islands are now accessible only to those that charter a yacht out of Palma, or have their own boat. The wildlife here is stunning and vibrant, benefiting from the 100 square kilometers of protected waters.
Puerto Andratx, a short cruise from Palma, is a gorgeous natural harbor ringed by cliffs and white sand beaches. While the area is a pristine natural preserve, the beachside cafes and restaurants are known for their champagne swilling good times. The tightly packed town, with its rambling streets has long attracted artists and interesting characters, and the stunning visual backdrop makes it clear as to why.
Another short hop by yacht, the uninhabited island of Dragonera is another must see. A pristine island nature preserve, the island offers amazing anchorages, once loved by pirates and smugglers. Made up of three islets, Illot des Pantaleu, Sa Mitjana and Sa Dragonera, it is home to 361 different plant species, 18 of which are endemic to the Balearics. The park’s fauna is another of its most interesting aspects. Particularly worthy of note is the wall lizard population, an endemic subspecies that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, as well as the particular snail species, which is also endemic to the Balearic Islands.
Dragonera to Soller is only about an hours cruise, but it offers a totally unique experience. With a backdrop of the Tramuntana Mountains, Soller’s many sandy coves are only accessible by boat (or hiking trail). The primary beach is a long arc of sand, with a ten or more small seafood restaurants that offer world-class culinary experiences featured the day’s catch, with an emphasize on the local prawns. As quant as this area is, it is a favorite of many celebrities.
Pollença Bay, on the Northern Coast of Mallorca stands out for its crystal clear waters and protection from the open sea. An ideal spot for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, birdwatching and generally just wandering around, the area offers all sorts of activities. One of our favorites is simply walking the cobblestone streets of the charming old town, and stopping off at any one of the excellent cafes and restaurants. If you find yourself needing to stretch your sea legs, we recommend the 365 Calvari Steps. These old steps lead from the Placa Major to the top of the town where you can reward yourself with the fantastic views.
Cuitadella de Menorca may be the little sister to the islands larger city, Port Mahon, but its our preferred stop due to its cultural offerings, including a theatre, 10 museums and a row of about 100 restaurants. The city is a medieval masterpiece, and it reflects its clear heritage of Roman, Arab, and Ottoman influences. Menorca is best explored by your yacht tender, allowing you access to the secret beaches of Cala Morell, for example.
Unlike Mallorca and Ibiza, Menorca is known for its LACK of clubbing towns – which is why it draws those that it does. This island is made up of cobalt blue inlets, sun-drenched beaches and rolling hills.
10 nautical miles south of Mallorca is the island of Cabrera, considered by many to be the Baleric’s prime boating location. It is the smallest, and least visited of the islands, which, truthfully, is one of the reasons we like it so much. Approaching the island, you want see hotels, and buildings dotting the hillside, in fact the only settlement you’ll see as you approach the tiny harbor is a small settlement of white washed houses decorating the hillside. Cabrera is another of Spain’s terrestrial-maritime national parks, and it has been one for nearly a quarter of a century. The land and sea are virtually unaltered. Yachts are permitted to anchor in one of two anchorages just off the park, setting you up perfectly for a day of exploration.