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Sailboat in Majorca

Sailing route in the Balearic Islands

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Discover the Balearic Islands aboard a sailing boat

If someone mentions “Balearic Islands” we instantly picture a typical scene we would all like to be in: coves lapped by turquoise sea in the heart of the Mediterranean and surrounded by Mediterranean forests where time stands 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. 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 Balearic Islands. When are you coming?

Mallorca

The size of the island means many find it complicated to travel around the whole island in just a week, so you might want to pick an area or even spend a couple of weeks sailing here.

Journey: By sea / Duration: 1 week

The Majorcan coast is home to lots of beaches and anchor sites. There are harbours and marinas all along the coast housing businesses dedicated to boat rentals. When it comes to sailing around Majorca, you might find it interesting to know that there are few currents and the strongest wind is the NW tramontane. It is advisable to sail anti-clockwise in summer to make the most of the wind.

Cape Formentor, Majorca

Day 1. Palma de Mallorca

The island capital is a must-see on your trip. In fact, it is such a buzzing destination that many people choose the city for their entire holiday. If you moor in Palma, and if you have only one day for a visit, it's a good idea to know there are a few must-dos here.Firstly, take a pleasurable stroll towards the impressive Gothic Cathedral (renowned architect Gaudí was responsible for its renovation. Another highlight is the original work by the artist Miquel Barceló in the Santísimo Chapel). From here (and after enjoying the panoramic view of the bay and Parc de la Mar gardens), you'll love discovering La Almudaina Palace, the lBishop's Palace and the City Hall , rounding your walk off at the old merchant exchange. Bellver Castle is a little farther out. The views from this monument, which has protected the city since the 14th century, are alone worth the trip.Culture lovers will be pleased to know they have the chance to visit the Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum, the March Palace and museum, and the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation. Shopping fans should head to the Borne parade, Unió street, Plaza Weyler and Jaume III street.If you have time and want some beach fun before heading back to your boat, take a dip on one of the city's beaches such as the famous Playa de Palma with its many shops, restaurants and clubs.

Cathedral of Santa María, Palma de Mallorca

Day 2. East of the island

Departing the port of Palma de Mallorca, you can head to one of the most popular tourist spots on the island, the area of Porto Cristo (there are several mooring options such as the Port Cristo Yacht Club), which is home to the famous Caves of Drach with their large underground lake (the visit includes a classical music concert and a boat trip on the lake). The town of Manacor is nearby.If you continue towards the north, you can also visit the Caves of Artà and then head to Capdepera and be charmed by the Castle and Canyamel Tower. Just next door is Cala Ratjada - the eastern most point on the island. The lighthouse area offers impressive views and on clear days, you can even see Minorca. There are also several mooring options here such as Cala Ratjada marina or Cala Ratjada Yacht Club.Cala Mesquida, lies a little further to the north and is the perfect spot for a dip surrounded by a landscape of dunes and pine trees. There are also other coves well worth a visit such as Cala Torta, Cala Varques… The hard part is choosing which one.

Drach Caves in Manacor, Mallorca

Day 3. South of the island

The most tranquil spots are located to south of the island, making it easy to sail along the coast. Here are some the best unspoilt sand beaches and sites offering marvellous anchoring. A good starting point is Mondragó Nature Reserve where you can take your first dip near Cala Figuera.Es Trenc beach is one of the best sandy areas in Majorca as it has not been developed, offers crystal-clear waters and is a favoured spot for visitors.

Es Trenc beach

Day 4. West of the island

In addition to the city of Palma, which we mentioned above, the north west of the island is home to the fascinating Serra de Tramuntana mountain landscape that is perfect for hikers and cyclists. The 100-kilometre mountain range runs parallel to the coast from the town of Andratx to the Cape of Formentor and has been a place of refuge for writers and painters for many years.  Indeed, one of Majorca's greatest charms is how the landscape shifts from mountain to wide sandy beaches in the blink of an eye.Beyond sailing, you can spend a couple of days discovering some of the most charming towns and villages on the island within a small area: Valldemossa (with its pretty Carthusian monastery where Chopin and George Sand stayed), Deià (do not miss the views from the gardens of Son Marroig) and Sóller (did you know there is a period train with traditional wooden carriages that links Palma and Sóller on a track through mountains and valleys?). If you have time, you can head to the Lluc Shrine from Sóller.

Serra de Tramuntana in Majorca

Days 5-6. The north coast

Today we recommend starting from Pollença, with its mediaeval old town and busy port. How about a refreshing dip on the beach at Cala Murta?Alcúdia is nearby and is also home to a full-service marina. It is a pleasure to stroll around the walled old town where the Xara and Palma gates still stand, as well as taking a dip in the unspoilt local coves. Many recommend the cove of Coll Baix. One option for anchoring near the bay of Alcúdia is Es Caló, next to Sa Colonia de Sant Pere.The best spot for watching the sunset is Formentor, where you’ll find one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Spain at Es Colomer.The following day you can leave the north east of the island and discover the coastal town of Can Picafort, the Shrine of Betlem and bid farewell to the Mediterranean at Cala Mitjana.

Cala Sant Vicent in Pollença, Majorca

More plans in Majorca

Excursion to Cabrera. If you have a few more days, we recommend a must-do excursion. Tourism boats (known as 'golondrinas' or swallows) depart Palma to the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime-Terrestrial National Park - a wild natural setting where you can really get away from it all. To sail, anchor or dive along the coast you require a permit from the Regional Ministry of Environment and Territory (calle Gremio Corredores, 10-1º Polígono de Son Rossinyol, Palma).Cultural calendar. Majorca hosts major cultural events such as the Deià International Music Festival or the Pollença International Classical Music Festival, and important sailing competitions such as the Princesa Sofía Trophy or the Mapfre Copa del Rey Regatta.Almond trees in bloom. Majorca also offers ideas for enjoying the island all year round. If you head there at the end of January or in early February, do not miss the almond blossom.Gastronomy. Majorca is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants that are perfect to savour some of the best dishes on the island.

Almond trees in blossom in Mallorca

Majorca: how to get there and getting around

Palma de Mallorca has one of the busiest airports in Spain, located just eight kilometres from the city and just two hours from the main airports in Europe.The main sea ports in Majorca are Palma and Alcúdia. There are also several companies that run maritime routes between the islands.

Menorca

The island's size makes it a good option for discovery by sea.

Journey: By sea / Duration: 1 week

The bay of Fornells and the port of Mahón are recommended for sailing beginners, as they are large areas with a constant breeze whilst being protected from the high seas. There are companies in Minorca that offer sailing courses for both beginners and advanced students who wish to perfect their technique.

Sunbeds at La Cueva d

Day 1. Mahón and nearby towns

We start our journey around one of the quietest Balearic islands, known as the windy isle, and the second largest after Majorca. Mahón, the island capital, is to the east and is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and a good departure point to start off your stay here.It is one of the buzziest spots on the island, a destination for cruise ships and the perfect city to have a drink or do some shopping. Life centres mainly around the harbour, which you can see for yourself on a stroll around the Plaça d'es Peix square or the market known as El Claustro del Carmen. Highlights also includes San Roque Bridge, the church of Santa María and the Museum of Minorca. The historical military buildings should not be overlooked, including La Mola Fortress and Marlborough Fort.For some great views of La Mola Fortress, you should head up to the highest spots in the nearby town of Es Castell.

Cala es Canutells cove, Maó - Mahón

Day 2. South-east of the island

We suggest mooring your boat and starting the day off in the charming town of Binibeca. It imitates the architecture of old angling villages and wandering the streets until you reach the sea is a real pleasure. Make sure not to forget your camera.From here you can head to Cales Coves. Get ready to take a dip surrounded by a rocky landscape which, in reality, was once a spectacular prehistoric burial ground. It is a magical place.The day cannot end anywhere but at Cova d´en Xoroi, which offers one of the best views of the sunset on the island. These caverns are open until dawn and offer you the chance to enjoy a spectacular vantage point, have a drink, dance the night away... In short, a spot you cannot miss. 

Binibeca in Minorca

Day 3. The south west

Today we head to the area of the island that tends to be photographed the most, with its typical coves (surrounded by forests and cliffs, fine sand and crystal-clear waters where boats seem to just float).The most well known coves start in the area of Ciutadella and continue to the west: the sand beach at Son Saura,Turqueta Cove, Macarella Cove, Macarelleta Cove, Galdana Cove, Mitjana Cove, Trebalúger Cove...Another good spot to end the day is Cap d'Artrutx and the area around the lighthouse. Enjoy the setting sun whilst having a drink at the terrace next to the lighthouse or from the deck of your boat.

Sailing boat in Minorca

Days 4 and 5. The north coast

Many people only spend a day of their holiday to discover the north of the island. But we think there is so much to see that, where possible, you should take two. The landscape changes in the north and becomes redder, wilder and bolder - for many, nature in its purest state. You should also bear in mind that the coast is more slopped due to the tramontane storms that hit the area at times.If you start in the north west, a good departure point is Punta Nati, where the historic lighthouse will charm you. Afterwards, you can head to the spectacular beaches of Cala Pilar and Algaiarens.As you move towards the east, you'll come across Cala Pregonda (one of the most beautiful and least busy on the island) and Cavalleria, where the beach and incredible lighthouse are a must-see.Further along is Cala Tirant, near the town of Fornells, where you should not only moor in the port to discover the charming town, but eat a delicious lobster stew in one of the restaurants.Our excursion in the north ends at a magical spot: the area at Favàritx Lighthouse. The sunset from here is simply unforgettable. 

Punta Nati lighthouse, Minorca

Day 6. Ciutadella and inland

We have left one of the prettiest cities on the island and former capital for the last day: Ciutadella. Strolling around the centre with its palaces, cathedral, narrow streets and pretty harbour (where, by the way, the food is amazing) is a real pleasure. Make sure you see the vantage point behind the town hall. If you are lucky enough to be there on 23rd and 24th June, you can take part in the Sant Joan festivities, where horses and their riders travel through the city.Depending on the type of boat you have chosen for your holiday and the speed it can get to, you might like to spend the whole day sailing from Mahón to Ciutadella.We should also not overlook the inland area that has lots of interesting spots to see if, as well as hiring a boat, you hire a car or a scooter. For example, the Naveta des Tudons (the best-known funeral monument on the island), Ferreries, Es Mercadal, Monte Toro (the highest point on the island) and Alaior are all worth a visit.

Ciutadella Port, in Minorca.

More plans in Minorca

Nature. Enjoy the countryside of Minorca to the full. It is so special that UNESCO declared the island a Biosphere Reserve in 1993. Hiking enthusiasts simply can’t miss a trip to Camí de Cavalls: this is a certified signposted trail that goes around the entire island coastline.Horse riding. Horses are the stars at many island festivities and there are several clubs and schools to enjoy this pastime.Cultural calendar. Ciutadella hosts several cultural events such as the Minorca International Jazz Festival or the Summer Music Festival.

Horse riding tourism in Minorca

Minorca: how to get there and getting around

Mahón is home to Minorca airport and the island can be reached from lots of international destinations.The main sea ports are Mahón and Ciutadella. There are also several companies that run maritime routes between the islands. 

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 in the world).

Journey: By sea / Duration: 5 days

Ibiza beach

Day 1. Eivissa

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 nightclubs. Remember: nights on the island are legendary throughout the world.

Baluarte de Santa Lucía dalt vila Ibiza - Eivissa

Day 2. West of the island

You can find some of the prettiest spots in the west of the island: the Nature Reserve of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the Poniente isles. 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) orPlatges 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 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. 

Cala d

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.

Cala Bassa Ibiza - Eivissa

Day 4. East of the island

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!

Santa Eulalia Puig Missa

Day 5. South of the island

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, some of Ibiza’s legendary clubs are located in the south of the island, such as Ushuaïa and Space.

Sant Antoni i Sant Josep Marine Resort

More plans in Ibiza

Regattas. Ibiza plays host to sporting competitions such as the prestigious Ruta de la Sal Regatta. Fiestas. Try and see one of them, such as the Mediaeval Festival in Ibiza Town or the Festes de la Terra.Active leisure. Active leisure alternatives available on the island include horse riding, organised outings by moonlight and mountain bike trails.

Cala Bassa Ibiza - Eivissa

Ibiza: how to get there and getting around

Sant Josep airport is located in the south of the island and has direct flights to the Spanish mainland and Europe.If you are visiting by sea, Ibiza has three major ports: Ibiza Port, Santa Eulària Port and Sant Antoni Port. There are scheduled passenger services and moorings for private boats, charters and cruise ships.

Formentera

The smallest of the four islands is also the quietest. In fact, you can only reach Formentera by boat from Ibiza.

Journey: By sea / Duration: 2 days

Formentera is situated 2 nautical miles from Ibiza, although the distance between the ports of Ibiza and La Savina is 12 miles. Once there, the island offers 69 kilometres of coastline, beaches with crystal-clear waters and the chance to enjoy all types of water sports. La Savina (to the north of the island) has a full-service marine with everything you could possibly need for sailing.The organised sailing tours that combine Formentera and Ibiza in a week tend to dedicate a couple of days to Formentera.

Sailing boat in Formentera

Day 1. The north and west coast

You should be aware that the Ses Salines Nature Reserve, we mentioned in our Ibiza tour also extends to the north of Formentera where, of course, the Neptune grass meadows are also renowned. The Estany des Peix lake is also on the north west of the island - a small lagoon that opens out to the sea and where small vessels may anchor. It is the perfect spot to enjoy water sports with small draught vessels.You will also love taking a dip at Ses Illetes beach in the north, which is perfect for all types of water sports. There are maritime services that connect this area with La Savina port and the island of Espalmador (renowned for its mud baths and a great place to set anchor for the night). Did you know that Ses Illetes beach has been chosen as the best in Spain on several occasions? You will also love Llevant beach at the northern tip of the island.

Es Pujols, Formentera

A highlight on the west coast is Cala Saona, which although only measuring 140 metres is one of the most beautiful coves and perfect for anchoring.Sant Francesc Xavier is the island's capital and ideal to visit and see the centenary church, stroll around the shops, buy some local handicrafts and end the day savouring a typical dish in one of the local restaurants.Before nightfall, head back to the full-service marina that is a great spot to spend the night.

Es Carnatge, Formentera

Day 2. The north-east, east and south coast

Your second day can start out either on the boat or again in Sant Francesc Xavier. The Cap de Barbaria lighthouse is nearby, to the south-west of the island. Many visitors come here to see the sunset.If what you're looking for is the beach however, the famous Migjorn sands are in the south of the island. The beach is one of the largest on the island and the Es Pi des Català tower is not far away. The well-known Es Arenals beach is also in the Migjorn area. Migjorn is a perfect spot for water sports, although you should be aware that it is best to anchor 100 metres from the shore since there are rocks that run parallel to the coastline.

Espalmador beach in Formentera

Now for some culture. The most spectacular megalithic tomb in the Balearic Islands is found on the north-east of the island: Ca na Costa dates back to the early Bronze Age. You can also head to Es Pujols and the night-time market.Make sure not to miss the windmill in Pilar de la Mola and handicrafts market in La Mola to the east. This is the island's largest open-air market where you will find one-off pieces by artisans from around the world every Wednesday and Sunday from May to October, alongside live music performances, jugglers...Finally, there is another mythical lighthouse on the island to the far east and on the highest spot. La Mola lighthouse is said to have inspired writer Jules Verne. 

Ses Salines in Formentera

More plans in Formentera

Being a small, accessible island, a good option is to see part of it on foot or by bike to discover the pine forests, salt marshes and rural inland areas. Indeed, Formentera has an entire network of green routes.

Illetas beach in Formentera

Formentera: how to get there and getting around

There is no airport on Formentera and the island can only be reached by boat from Ibiza. Once in Ibiza, there are several ferries that connect to La Savina in Formentera every day of the week. The journey time lasts around 25 minutes.

Formentera Es Calo

Tips and recommendations

Duration. 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.

Documentation. At the following link you can find more information on the documents you require for sailing in Spain.

The vessels. 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).

Types of charter. You can charter a sailing boat with or without captain and crew. If you prefer, you can charter a sailing boat per places or cabins (always check the different charter options at each port, as there are usually different alternatives, such as racing yachts, classic yachts, schooners, etc.).

Characteristics of the vessel 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.

The captain. 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.

Basic equipment. For sailing, always remember the basic advice: take rubber sole shoes for walking on the deck, light water-proof clothing, sun cream, a cap and sun glasses.

Stops. We recommend that at least one day you leave the boat in the port and hire a car or scooter to visit some of the different landscapes along the coast and inland.

Transport and communications. 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 to go on the route

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.