Guide to the Balearic Islands
Not the place to come to party. People come here to use Nordic walking poles on the narrow, scented footpaths that lead down to beaches carved out of the chalk cliffs. For the scents of rosemary and lemon balm. The thinking has been to attract to the island tourists more interested in quality than cost.
– People who come here are attracted by the nature, walking, paddling and cycling, says Mathieu Nieuwland from Belgium who runs his own guide agency on the island.
Don't expect a bus tour to stores he has arrangements with, however. He’ll take you on the steepest paths you've ever seen instead. Between almond and pine trees. With your bike over your shoulder you navigate down agonizingly steep trails. Fortunately, you will then have the chance to wash off all the sweat in the sea. No, Menorca is not the place to come without hiking boots. Regardless of the nature, Menorca has a long and violent history. The island became part of the Roman Empire in 123 BCE and was later conquered by the Moors along with the rest of Spain. The history of the island is summed up by Ciutadella Cathedral that was built over a mosque. In this beautiful port you can eat lobster and drink local island wines while basking in the stiffness of the day's exertions on land or sea.
Party time on Ibiza starts the moment you land. There are actually vending machines at the airport where you can buy tickets to clubs and head straight there. Ibiza is not the place to go if you need to stick to a strict budget. Drinks can easily cost €25 or more. You can pay at individual clubs via PayTouch, a touch screen pay terminal that enables fingerprint payments.
The atmosphere on Ibiza will get you buzzing. People are happy, smiling and friendly. Party time starts at lunch, ideally at a beach club such as the Blue Marlin. The party then continues at Ushuaïa for example, before you end the day at the famous and fabled Pacha. However, you can just as easily have a fun time in one of the many small and beautiful villages. If so, head to the party town of San Antonio and a drink at Café del Mar and enjoy acrobats and dancers in amazing costumes who perform at sunset.
Mmm… The busy waiters arrive with plate after plate. Cod balls, shellfish and squid. All taste equally delicious when accompanied by a glass of chilled Albariño from the mainland. This not exactly trendy place is packed with people busy chatting and stuffing themselves with tapitas from the menu. Boveda is just one of many delightful and popular restaurants serving genuine basic Spanish dishes. It’s no more than a couple of streets away from the somewhat finer Forn de Sant Joan, where Pedro Almovódar likes to eat. The food here is Mediterrasian, that is to say Mediterranean with an Asian twist. Palma de Mallorca is a sophisticated city with around 350,000 inhabitants, that is elegantly located around Almudeina, a royal palace built by the Moors when they occupied Spain. Shopping here is similar to Barcelona except on a slightly smaller scale. There are plenty of designer stores on Avinguda Jaime. Mallorca is the largest of the island group and perhaps also the most popular. The bathing resorts are pretty packed in summer, but you can also walk in the hills and explore the countryside villages inland.
Formentera is a ferry hop from Ibiza. A New York Times travel journalist described it as so unfashionable it’s hot. Conde Nast Traveler wrote that people come here to get away from everything. Such as Kate Moss and various soccer stars. Here, the main attraction is quite simply the long, white beaches. The water is Caribbean clear for which there is a natural, and a political, explanation. The ecosystem and the quality of the waters in the coves are maintained by Posidonia oceanica seagrass. Politicians on the island have consciously sought to protect the seagrass for this very reason. Ibiza was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, in part for preserving the Posidonia oceanica that cleanses the water and gives it the pure, crystal clear feeling we adore. There are around 60 to 70 hotels and hostels on Formentera, none of them ostentatious. This doesn't mean you need to sleep on the beach like many young people do after partying till they almost drop on Ibiza. You can stay at the delightful Gecko Beach Club, a boutique hotel on Migjorn beach.
Published: July 17, 2018