Spanish islands of pleasure and delight: The Balearics have something for everyone

Beautiful coast and harbour of Cala Figuera - Spain, Mallorca (iStock)
Beautiful coast and harbour of Cala Figuera - Spain, Mallorca (iStock)

WITH their turquoise waters and white, sandy beaches, the Balearics have always been a firm holiday favourite.

Bookings have gone up sharply in recent times, despite the pound’s woes against the euro.

The four main islands on sunny Spain’s shores are the picture-perfect destination for a relaxing break with their sun-kissed beaches.

Each boasts unique highlights, from the world-famous glamorous clubs of Ibiza to the secret beaches on Menorca, the cosmopolitan feel of Majorca, or the quietness of lesser-known

Formentera.

Here’s our look at the best of the Balearics.

Majorca

The beauty of this island was shown on our screens as the filming location for BBC drama, The Night Manager.

From beautiful beaches to superb shopping, whether you like an active holiday or simply soaking up the sun, there’s plenty to do here.

With more than 300 miles of coastline, there something like 200 beaches to choose from. The most stunning of the sun-kissed sands can be found at Playa de Alcudia and Calla Millor.

However, if it’s something more secluded you’re after, there are plenty of hidden gems, from Alcudia’s Playa de Muro to the gorgeous Cala Varques in Manacor, accessed by a footpath through the woods.

For shopping and culture, the cosmopolitan capital, Palma, is where you want to be.

From the 13th Century church Iglesia de Santa Eulalia to the cobbled lanes and the Gothic cathedral in the old quarter, to the ancient passages, historic monuments and magnificent architecture, there are no shortage of things to see.

Sporty types will love the sleepy town of Valldemossa. Surrounded by the forest-covered hills of the Tramuntana range, it’s the perfect spot for hiking.

And Es Ponta is well-noted for its rock climbing spots.

If you fancy spotting a celeb or two, head to the pretty town of Port de Soller. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s yacht is just one that’s been seen moored just off the coast.

The chic marina of Puerto Portals is a favourite destination of the Spanish royal family and filled with luxury yachts, expensive boutiques and flashy cars.

It feels like a smaller version of Monte Carlo in Monaco.

Tourists relaxing on Plaza Alfonzo III, at Ciutadella, on the island of Menorca, Spain (iStock)

Menorca

Majorca’s sister island is a sleepy alternative.

Think sun-drenched beaches, cobalt blue inlets, and interiors filled with fields and rolling hills.

Menorca’s beaches are really impressive. There’s everything from long, golden sands and pine-backed bays to off the beaten track coves.

For the longest stretch of sands, head for family favourite, Son Bou.

Visit the lively capital of Mahon for a dose of culture.

Mahon used to be ruled by the Brits, and you’ll get a real sense of its colonial past along Carrer Isabel ll, with its balconied townhouses complete with sash windows.

There’s more 18th-Century history at the Xoriguer gin distillery down by the harbour.

It’s altogether more Gothic at the cathedral, though, where the organ recitals come courtesy of 3000 pipes.

And take in the picturesque port of Ciutadella. With its cobbled streets clustered around a smart, yacht-filled harbour, it was the island’s capital until the early 18th Century.

The city’s 13th-Century cathedral is a must-see – built on the site of an old mosque, it has a neo-classic facade and a huge, marble altar.

The island’s gentle landscapes are ideal for activities such as walking, cycling or riding – with no scary sharp inclines for those who aren’t super fit.

The mysterious island of Es Vedra. Ibiza, Balearic Islands. Spain (iStock)

Ibiza

Ibiza is infamous for being the Balearic’s party island and is known for its wild clubs and bars.

But if dancing the night away isn’t your thing, you’ll soon discover there’s more to Ibiza than meets the eye.

The capital Ibiza Town has an old quarter that’s earned itself a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. It’s cocooned by medieval stone walls and overlooked by a fortress.

Resorts such as Cas Mallorqui, Port de Sant Miquel, and Cala de Sant Vicent are more low-key.

Portinatx is arguably the most beautiful and secluded part of the island.

Three sandy beaches meet a shallow, turquoise sea, the perfect spot for families looking for a chilled-out escape.

Small sailing boats bob in the distance and the forested bay that wraps around this tranquil resort make it feel all the more peaceful.

For shopping, Es Cana is the home of the original hippy market of Punta Arabi, which has been running since the ’70s. The weekly event is packed with stalls selling crafts, clothes, traditional Ibizan souvenirs and homemade seafood paella, hot out of the pan.

Aside from that you’ll find plenty of hippy vibes, yoga retreats, and lovely boutique hotels out of the party zone.

Formentera

The tiny island of Formentera lies less than four miles south of Ibiza, but couldn’t be further away in terms of atmosphere and character.

Just 12 miles across, it can be easily explored on a short trip or even a day-trip from Ibiza itself.

With its chilled-out bohemian vibe, it’s known for its white powdery beaches and shimmering waters.

Most have Blue Flag status, including the five-mile stretch at Migjorn.

Even the capital has a go-slow as its default setting. San Francisco is built around an unhurried central square, where notice boards advertise massages and yoga classes.

Two of the island’s most famous sights are its lighthouses – La Mola, which was written about by Jules Verne – and Es Cap de Barbaria, which featured in the well known Spanish movie, Lucia y el Sexo.

History buffs will love Ca Na Costa, Formentera’s answer to Stonehenge. It’s nowhere near as big, but almost as old.

Dating back to 2000BC, this stone circle, on the outskirts of Es Pujols, is thought to have been built by the island’s first inhabitants.

The ruins were discovered in 1974 and, along with the rock structures, weapons and skeletons were found among the remains.

Those who love the water can take the opportunity to try snorkelling and scuba diving, which are popular pursuits here, and in all of the Balearics.

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