Sailing boats in Formentera (Balearic Islands)

Sailing around the Balearic Islands

When we hear 'Balearic' we immediately think about that typical setting where we'd all like to be: coves lapped by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean surrounded by forests where you just want time to stand still. Truth be told, Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera (the largest islands in the archipelago) are tailor-made to enjoy the weather, the sea and sailing.

The islands are not just about beaches. In fact, UNESCO has included the island of Ibiza and its culture (e.g. Dalt Vila, the old city of Ibiza, is an extraordinary example of Renaissance military architecture) and the cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (located in Majorca and home to fascinating monuments and towns such as Sóller, Valldemossa and Pollença) on its list of World Heritage Sites. If we add in the great climate, tranquil waters, incredible nightlife, especially in Ibiza (party people will love the shows from the world's best DJs), the chance to gaze upon unforgettable sunsets from the deck of a boat and the opportunity to take the time and savour typical products such as ensaimada pastries, Mahón cheese, herb liqueur, sobrassada sausage, a fish tumbet ratatouille or a lobster broth by the sea (and on these islands, 'slow food' is a must), who wouldn't want to visit at least once in their lifetime? These Spanish islands are so well loved that many film stars, sports personalities and members of royal dynasties choose them to take a break or even for a second home. Indeed, it is fairly common to come across celebrities enjoying the summer whilst sailing their yachts around the islands. Stars who have fallen under the Balearic spell include Naomi Campbell, Paris Hilton, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Valentino Rossi, Rafael Nadal... If you dream of discovering the islands by sailing boat, you can hire one with or without a captain and crew or, if you prefer, book a place or a cabin on one (always have a look at the options available at all the marinas since there tends to be a wide selection of regatta, classic, schooner boats, etc.). Bear in mind too the features of the vessel (length, draught, number of beds, cabins and bathrooms...), the equipment (GPS, VHF radio, guide and charts, etc.) and the available extras (provisions, final cleaning, bed linen...). In broad strokes, sailboats that travel along the coast tend to have 3 to 5 cabins, a couple of bathrooms, a kitchen and, of course, a deck for sunbathing. In terms of prices, they tend to be lower than boats with an engine due to the lower fuel costs. Depending on the type of trip you have in mind, you'll need either a shorter vessel designed for just a few passengers (e.g. travelling as a family) or a larger vessel designed for groups of over 12 guests (e.g. if travelling with a group of friends). The following link, , has more information on what papers you should bring. Many travellers, even those with the official sailing certificate, prefer to hire vessels with a captain who already knows the most interesting spots to cast anchor. It is a good idea to gather information from any of the marine resorts in the Balearic Islands (specifically four: Santa Eulalia, and Sant Antoni and Sant Josep in Ibiza, Llucmajor-Bay of Palma in Majorca and the resort in Minorca) since they specialise in sailing and organising activities such as windsurfing, scuba diving, paddle surf, whale and dolphin spotting... In order to properly discover the Balearic Islands by boat, it's a good idea to spend at least one week around each of the two largest islands (Majorca and Minorca) and another week in Ibiza and Formentera, although there are shorter trips that connect several islands. You will love the sensation of anchoring in coves where people cannot get to by car, the experience of spotting dolphins, night swimming when it's hot, seeing the fluorescent plankton phenomenon or star gazing from the deck. We also recommend mooring your vessel for the day and hiring a car or bike to travel around the different landscapes on the islands, both coastal and inland, making sure you enjoy the most exclusive side of the islands, having a drink on the coolest terraces at the 'in' restaurants, clubs or beach clubs that tend to start the day off with breakfast to then transform into cocktail bars in the evening. The best and most enjoyable weather for sailing is between April and October, with summer being the most stable time of year (although you need to bear in mind possible high winds at sea). Moreover, the northern areas can even see some snow during winter months so it is advisable to not go out sailing at this time of year. The Balearic Islands have three airports (Majorca, Ibiza and Minorca) with international flights, welcome lots of cruise ships and offer ferry services between the islands. When are you coming?  

Ibiza

Now we come to Ibiza which, thanks to its biodiversity and culture, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is renowned both for its beautiful coves and landscapes and for its world famous night-life (it is home to some of the world's best clubs and discos such as Pachá, Amnesia, Ushuaïa and Space). In fact, it is the favourite island amongst celebrities to 'strut their stuff'. Ibiza is so exclusive that a restaurant owned by Spanish chef Paco Roncero is located here. It is believed to be the most expensive in the world and is the only spot in the Mediterranean with the Blue 5 Star Marina rating (Marina Ibiza). Thanks to its location, climate and facilities, it is also the perfect place to enjoy water sports year-round. Find out more about marinas and marine resorts, sailing schools and charters in Ibiza at the following website .  

  • 1 Day 1. Ibiza Town
  • 2 Day 2. The west coast
  • 3 Day 3. The north coast
  • 4 Day 4. The east coast
  • 5 Day 5. The south coast

Day 1. Ibiza Town

Before heading out sailing, we think it's a good idea to find out what the capital has to offer (there are different mooring options at the marina or yacht club in Ibiza Town). The high part of the old town is Dalt Vila, which almost leaves you breathless with its impressive walled enclosure. The old town was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. You will love strolling the narrow streets and discovering monuments such as the castle or cathedral, or attractions such as the Madina Yabisa Visitor Centre. And not to mention the sea views... The main entrance to the old town is the Portal de Ses Taules drawbridge.

There are other interesting spots outside the city walls such as the Puig des Molins necropolis (used as a cemetery for over 1,000 years), the Plaça des Parc, the busy Port of Ibiza (with its market and terraces) and beaches such as Talamanca or Platja d'en Bossa. And if you like to party, a good night in Ibiza ends at one of the world famous clubs such as Pachá Ibiza. Remember: nights on the island are mythical throughout the world.  

Day 2. The west coast

One of the most beautiful places on the island is located in the west: Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and Illots de Ponent Nature Reserve. It is a captivating spot that is worth the trip just to see the shadow cast by Es Vedrà over the sea and, if possible, to contemplate the sunset from your boat. The town of Sant Josep de Sa Talaia is nearby, alongside some of the most spectacular beaches in the area with crystal-clear turquoise waters such as Cala d'Hort (a great spot to anchor and take a dip) or Platges de Comte.

Heading north is Sant Antoni de Portmany marina, a great spot to anchor in the bay or moor and have dinner or go for a stroll around the bay to Es Caló d'es Moro to enjoy one of the most renowned sunsets in the world. Many visitors choose to spend this hour at the emblematic Café del Mar, although if you are on your own boat, you might enjoy it more from the deck. Also a little farther north and moving inland is the interesting small town of Santa Agnès de Corona. It is a great place to visit in winter, specifically in January and February, when the hundreds of almond trees blossom.  

Day 3. The north coast

If you are looking for a good place to take a dip in the north of the island, you should head to Cala Benirrás. It is a special spot not just for its beach but also as in summer you can experience first-hand the most hippy side of the island at the Benirrás Drum Party on Sunday afternoons. You can spend the rest of the day here or even anchor down for the night in the cove. Benirrás is near the town of Sant Joan de Labritja, where you can take trips to the surrounding towns, the fortified tower of Balanzat or the nearby caves of Marçà set inside a cliff. Also just a stone's throw away is Cala Xuclar - the perfect spot for snorkelling fans and just two kilometres from the tourist area of Portinatx. You might also like to head just north of Portinatx to Es Moscarter lighthouse - the tallest in the Balearic Islands.

Day 4. The east coast

There is a quieter type of tourism on the east of the island, although it is still home to paradisiacal beaches, charming towns and seafood cuisine. You will love discovering Santa Eulària des Riu, strolling the cobbled streets of Es Puig de Missa and visiting the Ethnography Museum.  

When you fancy going for a dip, the most emblematic coves are Es Figueral, Cala Boix, Cala Llenya, Cala Nova, Es Canar, Cala Martina, S'Argamassa, Cala Pada, Cala Llonga, and a little farther north, Aigues Blanques (one of the best spots to enjoy a natural mud bath to detox the skin) and Cala San Vicent. There are also idyllic marine nooks such as Pou d'es Lleó. You can also leave the boat behind and head to Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, a town with original shops, artisan products and antiques where it is worth stopping for dinner. We cannot fail to mention the famous Las Dalias Market in this part of the island (in Sant Carles de Paralta), which is held every Saturday and welcomes thousands of visitors between May and October. The stands offer jewellery, antiques, Adlib clothing (a typical Ibizan style)... An unmissable stop!

Day 5. The south coast

Lastly we head to Ses Salines Nature Reserve, renowned for its underwater meadows of Neptune grass - a type of seabed plant that is only found in the Mediterranean basin and which helps keep the water crystal-clear. It is a perfect spot for scuba diving. You can also enjoy the beaches of Cavallet and Salines here. Moreover, it is a very popular summer resort for celebrities with a fun night-life. If you like, you can also discover the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta (a World Heritage site), the 16th-century Sal Rossa watchtower or be amazed by the colours at the salt lakes. To round your trip off in party style, the mythical clubs of Ushuaïa and Space are located in the south of the island.

Tips and interesting facts



  • Ibiza plays host to sporting competitions such as the prestigious Ruta de la Sal Regatta. The different towns around Ibiza celebrate traditional festivities. Try and see one of them, such as the Mediaeval Festival in Ibiza Town or the Festes de la Terra. Active leisure alternatives available on the island include horse riding, organised outings by moonlight, observing the cliff faces from the sea by kayak or sailboat, and mountain bike trails. Sailing Always bear in mind basic practical tips for sailing: take rubber sole shoes for walking on the deck, light water-proof clothing, sun cream, a cap and sun glasses. Information about the different ports in the Balearic Islands and available moorings on specific dates can be found at the following website: http://www.portsib.es/es/paginas/inicio/ Other useful websites: Balearic Yacht Club Association http://www.acnauticosbaleares.com/ Balearic Port Authority website (with information on cruise ships, sailing advice...) http://www.portsdebalears.com/ Balearic Maritime Activities Owners Association http://www.apeam.com/ Balearic Water Sports Facilities Association http://www.anade.info/  

Getting here and around


Sant Josep airport is located in the south of the island and has direct flights to the mainland and Europe. If travelling by sea, Ibiza has three major ports: Ibiza Town, Santa Eulària and Sant Antoni. There are scheduled passenger services and moorings for private boats, charters and cruise ships. You can find more information at .  


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