The Balearic Islands – Mallorca (or Majorca), Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera – are island paradises for sailors, superyachts and luxury yacht charters. Lying to the east of the Spanish mainland, these islands are becoming one of the Mediterranean’s most popular yacht charter destinations, thanks to the near-year-round sunshine, azure waters, varied landscapes and warm hospitality.
Luxury Charter Group cruised here to discover the Balearic Islands for ourselves, so we are best informed to plan your next charter in the Balearic Islands. Ask us, we think these unspoiled islands will bring you many delightful cruising and cultural surprises.
We noticed especially that a land based holiday in the Balearics would give you a totally different impression. Chartering a yacht is the best kept secret. To discover these islands with a knowledgeable Captain on a crewed yacht charter is an unrivalled opportunity to really savour these beguiling Spanish isles, and to discover for yourselves so many coves and private anchorages you can only ever get to by boat.
Each island has a unique character and despite its growing popularity, much of the region is unspoiled. There is something for everybody. You don't have to sail far to encounter charming seaside villages, deep and narrow natural harbours, forests abundant with wildlife, and steep majestic cliffs broken only by small deserted beaches where no road goes. Or if it's nightlife you prefer and sophisticated marinas, your charter Captain can advise your choices!
On the Map
The largest and best-known Balearic, Mallorca (or Majorca) lies approximately 140 miles east of Valencia on the Spanish mainland and is home to the capital, Palma.
Palma de Mallorca comes as a surprise to many people - it is stylish, sophisticated, intimate, yet bursting with life. It is the island's cultural centre, with a fascinating historic old town, excellent night life and yacht clubs, Club de Mar and the Real Club Nautico which hosts various superyacht and sailing regattas all year round.
Palma is a marvellous blend of traditional and contemporary, with something for every inclination. The Palma Aquarium is considered one of the best in Europe and will captivate all marine life lovers. A feast for the eyes with its dazzling displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables straight from the land and a mouth-watering array of seafood, the Olivar Market is an authentic local experience where you will mingle with locals.
Although some parts of the island are densely populated with hotels and package-holiday tourists on land, if you want to anchor and explore ashore, there's a lot more than beaches and nightlife, with scope for plenty of hiking, golf, culture and festivals, water sports, entertainment and more.
In fact, much of Mallorca retains its original, unspoiled charm. Almost 40 percent of the island is protected. There are beautiful areas such as the Sierra de Tramuntana Mountains, in the north, with peaks reaching 1400 m above sea level.
The south-east coast of Mallorca is generally considered the most scenic part for its sculptured rock formations and beautiful secluded bays, every few hundred meters along the coast between Pollensa and Colonia St Jordi. There are many marine and nature conservation areas to explore along this coast including Cala Mondrago, Ses Salines, Cala Figuera, Cuevas de Drach, Cala Santanyi, Porto Colom, Porto Cristo, Cala Ratjada, Cala Gran, Portopetro, and the island of La Dragonera. A visit to the nature reserve Island of Cabrera, just off the coast of Mallorca is a must. A permit is issued that allows you to moor for 24 hours, ample time to walk up to the lookout for breathtaking views.
On the North coast is Puerto Pollensa, a typical Mallorcan town, with its maze of narrow streets and home to one of the most beautiful harbours on the island and also one of the deepest and most protected. The sheltered horseshoe shaped bay is set against the stunning backdrop of the Tramuntana mountain range, and it is blessed with calm, shallow waters which makes it popular with families. One of the most beautiful parts of Mallorca, this was the preferred destination for painters and artists at the beginning of the century. The landscape here is so diverse; steep mountains meet picturesque shores, the green of the pine trees contrasting with grey limestone rocks.
Around Mallorca, travel by yacht is the perfect way to get to places otherwise inaccessible and to discover an island of pine forests, mountains, rustic towns and idyllic coves.
The island measures almost 80 kilometres from one end to the other and boasts incredible diversity. It is 187 nautical miles to circumnavigate, but it has almost 300 nm of coastline counting all the inlets and bays you can explore on your yacht charter. Here you will find some of the Mediterranean's most beautiful coves and beaches, including Es Trenc and Cala Mesquida, some of them with sophisticated restaurants, bars and boutiques and others to the north of the island, small coves set between cliffs and pine groves.
Mallorca's clean, clear waters are ideal for swimming and water sports such as scuba diving, windsurfing, fishing, sailing, and even surfing. For the sports enthusiast, there are 24 golf courses on Mallorca and many are recognised as world-class to suit all levels of competence.
Ashore there are myriad of hiking trails, both along the coast and inland, all fully signposted, with information panels for visitors on foot or by bike.
Towns such as Deià, Pollença and Valldemossa have captivated artists for centuries. Culture is a vital part of the life of the island. Throughout the year there are festivals, concerts, literary events and exhibitions.
For the gourmand, even though you have your own chef aboard your charter yacht, we appreciate that you most likely want to explore the cuisine ashore. Palma will have you in epicurean rapture! Gastronomic experiences range from an authentic paella on the beach and rustic roasts in farmhouse restaurants to Michelin-starred cuisine that appear in the "Guide Rouge" each year.
The elegant Puerto Portals, a short cruise along the coast from Palma, has a hub for restaurants, bars and fine dining establishments. Along with its marina of luxury yachts, there are boutiques and some of the best restaurants on Mallorca.
Port Adriano is the newly remodelled marina located on the south-west bay of Palma de Mallorca. Transformed by the French designer Philippe Starck, he has created a completely new and contemporary looking marina with a comfortable marine environment with direct contact with the sea, along with a unique shopping area with luxury shops, international restaurants, and luxury marine brands. For a complete high-end experience, the Port offers access to different lounging spots, clubs, golf courses, and perfect sand beaches.
There are too many options to list, but the Mallorca tourism site seems to cover plenty of the restaurants to choose from : www.seemallorca.com/food/restaurants
Tristan is a Michelin star restaurant under the inspired guidance of Chef and owner, Gerhard Schwaiger. This gourmet temple with multi-million-Euro views is a chic, yet welcoming venue, with a more casual bistro attached.
Flanigan restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in the jet-set in Mallorca especially in summer. It is common to see members of the Spanish royal family dining there.
Restaurante Jardín is a sophisticated space for diners to try Michelin starred cuisine: Mediterranean dishes, market-fresh cooking and signature dishes prepared by Macarena de Castro, chef and owner of the restaurant.
On the ancient and historic front, history buffs will be in their element in Palma. It is a mirror of the historical wealth of this island. The old quarter, with a medieval layout of narrow winding streets, built with the purpose to not let the sun into the houses. It is the most interesting part of the city for visitors and is where most of Palma´s monuments are concentrated.
La Plaza Major (Main Square) is the nerve centre of the old quarter, where the main pedestrian shopping streets converge. The Avinguda de Jaume III was the first wide street to run through the old city and it connected this part of the city with the newer area of the Eixampla, and is one of Palma´s busiest and most exclusive shopping streets.
Bellver Castle was constructed between 1300 and 1310 and is one of the main historic attractions. La Seu Cathedral too, is another must-see. This beautiful and magnificent Roman Catholic Cathedral was designed in southern French Gothic style, on an Arab mosque. The luminous rose window, studded with 1,236 pieces of stained glass and 12m wide, is one of the world's largest windows.
Palma is home to many Museums of art, doll collections, Spanish culture and customs, as well as the modernist delight of the Fundacio La Caixa, formerly the Gran Hotel, which was Palma's first luxury hotel when it opened in 1903. Designed by the Catalan architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner, it was the building that began the craze for modernists (art nouveau) architecture in the city.
The 10th century Arab Baths are assumed to have been part of a nobleman's house and are similar to those found in other Islamic cities. The tepidarium has a dome in the shape of a half orange, with 25 round shafts for sun light, supported by a dozen columns.
The Palma Cathedral is considered "a jewel of Gothic architecture", with its imposing tower and nine bells, one of them alone weighing 4.5kg. Overlooking the sea, the 14th Century Cathedral is built over the city walls of Palma de Mallorca's old town.
La Almudaina Royal Palace, used by His Majesty the King of Spain as a residence and for official summer ceremonies, was once the seat of the independent kingdom of Majorca during the reigns of Jaime I, Sancho I and Jaime II, until it became part of the kingdom of Aragon under Pedro IV. Inside, its collection of tapestries and furniture from different periods of history make it an intriguing monument.
Menorca attracts a more subdued style of visitor, and the modern resorts are located at a distance from the two main towns: the capital Maó, which boasts the deepest harbour in the Med, and the charming port of Ciutadella.
If you are looking for white sandy beaches to anchor for swimming or watersports then visit the southern beaches of Macarella and Son Bou. Then there are Mitjana, Turqueta, Binidalí, Son Saura and Trebalúger, and if you want somewhere with a bit more action ashore, there's Cala Galdana or Punta Prima.
In the north, some of the beautiful beaches are only accessible for you by charter yacht. They lie under rocky outcrops of dark shale or terracotta-coloured clay, and the coarse sand has gold and russet tones. The sea can change colour from dark navy to vivid blue to palest green. The sea bed is rocky and perfect for snorkelling with a brilliant variety of fish and cormorants. Northern beaches include Cala Morell and Arenal den Castell and for somewhere truly remote, ask your captain to take you to Cala Tortuga, Cala Pilar, Cavalleria or Pregonda.
The coastline of Menorca abounds with pretty coves with turquoise water and white sandy beaches. The landscape consists of low hills and woods and aromatic herbs and shrubs. Local villages dotted around the coastline provide restaurants with a warm and welcome Menorcan atmosphere, along with some of the finest local cuisine.
Whether it's windsurfing, diving, jet skiing, horse riding, cycling, golf, gastronomy or bird watching that excites you, Menorca delivers.
Menorca has been, from prehistory to very recent times, a crossroad point for many different cultures because of its strategic situation in the centre of the western Mediterranean. It has been considered both a port of call and a place of refuge by these different races, all of whom left the island a rich historical legacy.
The evidence lies in the military network of forts and watchtowers: the Castle of San Antonio in Fornells, the Fortress of la Mola in Mahón, 14 watchtowers linking the coastline, 11 built by the English and three by the Spanish, Fort Marlborough or the San Felipe castle in Es Castell.
Ashore, there are various cultural trails, charting the island's illustrious past: its forts, churches, anthropological ruins, museums and galleries. The period of British rule can be traced through monuments to Lord Nelson, the estate known as San Antoni/Golden Farm, vestiges of English architecture and the Menorca Military Museum.
The Gastronomy Product Club of Menorca exists to offer visitors authentic experiences. Member establishments along the four Routes (Cheese, Wine, Traditional Recipes and Seafaring Gastronomy) offer top quality local products prepared with patriotic care. You can find out more at www.menorca.es
World renowned for its festivals, party scene and magnificent coastline and beaches, Ibiza is wholly unique and still known to its natives as "Eivissa".
The capital, Ibiza Town, is replete with legendary discos, bars and restaurants – a magnet for party-loving tourists from all over the world – but it has more than enough historic attractions to satisfy visitors seeking cultural insight. The north of the island still retains the distinctly bohemian character for which Ibiza was first famous.
Visitors to Ibiza will be dazzled by choice when it comes to cuisine, from casual beachside cafes and bars, to fine dining that rivals Paris or London, all with exquisite Ibiza ambience.
Bambuddha near Santa Gertrudis is an Asian-inspired haven for parties, events and special occasions. Nikki Beach is magnificently located in a stunning beachfront venue in Santa Eulalia. On Cala Jondal beach, Tropicana restaurant is sophisticated and relaxed, with a kids' play area and sun lounges, as well as dinghy service for yachts. Sa Capella is an old converted church, located in San Antonio, which offers superb Spanish and international cuisine. Find out more at www.ibiza.travel/en
Away from the crowds, visitors should try the local fish and seafood dishes. Of particular note are dishes such as "bullit de peix", fish hotpot, Ibizan paella or "la burrida de ratjada", a typical local fish dish. Inland, restaurants serve typical dishes which are primarily meat-based, such as "arrós de matances" a rice dish with meat and frita de porc", a pork dish. Desserts too are well worth sampling and include a delicious tart made with goat and sheep cheeses and mint, known as "flaó"; a pudding made of ensaimadas, milk and eggs called "greixonera" and on important social occasions, small ear-shaped cakes known as "orelletes".
For history buffs, Ibiza boasts some of the most well-preserved Renaissance ramparts in the Mediterranean, hence a poetic reference to the city as "the ship of stone". The Dalt Vila, a walled city, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. You can walk the entire perimeter of these impressive Renaissance-era walls, designed to withstand heavy artillery, and enjoy some of the best views of Ibiza from the top. The old quarter is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Nestled inside the ramparts, small palaces, art galleries, museums, restaurants with creative and traditional cuisine, little bars, and trendy shops line the route leading to the cathedral and the castle. Cultural sites include the Puig des Molins necropolis and the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta.
At the close of the 7th century BC, the Phoenicians established themselves at Puig de Vila and founded a settlement on the bay of Ibiza which constituted the original core of the city. It was in this period that the Puig des Molins was used as a necropolis. At the Monographic Puig des Molins Museum the history of the area is explained in great detail.
At the southern end of Ibiza, Ses Salines Nature Reserve is blessed with healthy fields of seagrass. Here, the sea is so pristine, it's a natural habitat for endangered species such as the Mediterranean monk seal and there are flocks of diverse species of birds. Las Salinas Nature Park offers incredible walking trails through the dunes and pine woods, and past the salt flats to end in the beaches of Es Cavallet, Ses Salines, d'en Bossa and Es Codolar you will find beach bars. Another option is to go to Ses Portes, where soldiers defended the island from pirate attack. Es Cavallet beach is known as the island's "gay coast", with an array of beach restaurant-bars and clubs.
In addition to some tranquil anchorages away from the crowds, there are several marinas on Ibiza that offer 5-star service and a pleasant base from which to explore: Marina Botafoch, Puerto Ibiza la Nueva, Puerto San Antonio-Abad, Puerto Santa Eulalia.
Beyond Ses Salines, there are hidden beaches and historic monuments many accessible only by boat on your yacht charter.
The undeveloped islands of Formentera and Espalmador lie two miles south of Ibiza. Espalmador, the smallest of the two, is virtually deserted.
Tiny Formentera has even better beaches than its neighbours and what it may lack in cultural interest, it more than makes up for in rustic charm.
Formentera can only be reached by boat, and this inaccessibility makes it very peaceful. The secret of its crystalline sea is the 'posidonea prairie' that surrounds the island, aquatic plants that clean the water, earning it a place in the region's World Heritage listing.
Formentera has attracted artists and artisans since the 70s, inspired by its natural wonders, freedom and stark light. Their designs in clothing, accessories, jewellery and works of art are one of the island's major points of interest.
Formentera is 10 miles long and 8 miles wide and considered the last wilderness in the Mediterranean. By charter yacht guests can just relax and savour the scenery, or take on the myriad of options for active tourism. Formentera provides awesome conditions for water sports, especially diving, thanks to the clean, crystal clear waters and warm temperatures. The unusual shape of the island is ideal for windsurfing all year round. If you're in to walking and cycling, the island has properly signed green circuits.
Illetes Beach is the best, but the anchorage is most crowded during the summer. The advantages of a yacht charter are that you can escape the crowds and cruise further along the coastline to find perfect lagoons for snorkelling away from the crowds.
Heading south, you will come to Ca Na Costa where archaeological ruins have been identified as a tomb dating from 2,000 BC.
If you hire a car or a scooter, along the main road towards La Mola is the longest stretch of beach known as Platja Migjorn. Es Calo boasts a picturesque cluster of restaurants, cafes and water of the most incredible turquoise. La Mola is atop a steep hill, with its lighthouse known as Faro de la Mola built in 1861. There is a Jules Verne monument here, a tribute to the author who made his base here while he penned his 1877 novel 'Journey Round the Solar System'. Near here is the cave known as Cova des Fum where it is said that in 1108 Norman invaders tortured and burned to death Arab inhabitants.
Playa Migjorn is a short jaunt from there, popular with those who prefer to sunbake and bathe nude! The most important port is Sa Savina, 3kms from the capital, Sant Francesc, surrounded by the sea on one side and two large lakes on the other, which makes it quite spectacular.
Of interest in the city is the fortified church: built in 1729. And located in the 'plaza principal'. Then there's the Ethnological Museum which offers a glimpse into the history of the island and its people.
The upgraded Marina de Formentera is a well-equipped marina accustomed to giving yachts impeccable service with modern technology and environmental considerations.
Cala Illetes is a great choice for fine dining, Head to Cabo Barberia, near the lighthouse for beautiful views and for moorings, Cala Saona is a popular, yet serene harbour for marvelling at the sunset and crystalline waters.
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