The Balearic Islands, consisting of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Cabrera, are without doubt some of the most precious pearls of Spain, and indeed the Mediterranean. The islands not only offer stunning beaches and landscapes, but also a rich diversity of cultures, history and gastronomy - for although the islands may seem similar in terms of geography, culture and people, the reality is somewhat different, as each island has developed a personality, culture, tradition and way of life that characterises it and distinguishes it from the others. Furthermore, each island has its own dialect of Catalan, partly attributable to the fact that over the centuries each island has been conquered and re-conquered by a succession of distinct countries and empires, such as France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire and, finally, Spain.
Mallorca is the largest and most visited island, with followed in size by Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Cabrera is an uninhabited island, a National Park where many unique species of animals live in blissful tranquillity.
The largest and best known of the islands, Mallorca offers beautiful beaches and coves, mountains, tiny villages where ancient customs are still preserved, a cosmopolitan capital city and many more treasures. With the gentle climate that Mallorca enjoys and its bounty of attractions, no surprise that it keeps enticing visitors to its shores.
Indeed, in Mallorca there is so much diversity in relaxation, culture and leisure that you should remain blissfully unaware of the island's one minor eyesore, the Bahía de Palma - home to a string of tasteless high rise hotels. Half of the island's population lives in Palma, where palm trees and yachts abound, all presided over by the imposing Cathedral and Castle of Bellver. It is here in the capital that many of the island's attractions can be enjoyed, whether by day or at night. Moving towards the north of the island are the wonderfully picturesque villages of Deiá, Valldemossa (former home to Chopin and current home to Michael Douglas when he is on holiday here), and Soller, where some of the best examples of Mallorcan architecture are found.
In the south of the island, take time to visit the dramatic caves of Artá y del Drac, as well as the town of Manacor, home to the thriving imitation jeweler business.
You can't leave Mallorca without sampling the delicious home produced ensaimada, a soft, sweet pastry. If you forget, you will always have time to pick up one at the airport!
Accessible by air or sea, this beautiful island has recently been recognised by UNESCO as a Man and Biosphere Reserve, protecting the island from any development or intrusion that would disturb the ecological balance.
Menorca is the perfect destination for those seeking to enjoy stunning yet quiet beaches, a far cry from the busy resorts of many costas. It's capital Mahón, home to one of the world's largest natural harbours, is an ideal place to soak up the local culture and enjoy the restaurants and bars. The former capital Ciutadella is possibly the prettiest town of the whole island, with magnificent 18th palaces, churches and convents marks the architectural legacy of the French and British who ruled the island at different times. The Cathedral still conserves the original walls from the heroic defence against the Turkish invasion of 1558.
In the centre of the island is the island's only ‘mountain', Mount Toro. At just over 365 metres, it is not a hard trek, but the reward is the superb views the peak offers of the whole island.
Quite unusually, all over the island, you can stumble across prehistoric remains dating back to between 1400 BC and 2000 BC, most of them preserved in perfect conditions and not dissimilar to the rock formations found at Stonehenge.
In the north of the island, the small fishing village of Fornells is famous for its restaurants serving up great seafood including Caldereta, a lobster based fish soup, a typical dish of the island. Other fine gastronomical delights include aubergines and the extraordinary variety of cheeses. For those who didn't already know, Menorca also produces one of the world's best tasting gins - known as Xoriguer. Most locals drink the Pomada version, which is a mix of the gin, lemon juice and crushed ice and is consumed in great quantities during fiestas.
Every summer each village celebrates its fiesta, with origins dating back hundreds of years. A characteristic of most of these fiestas is the running of a Menorcan horse through throngs of people. The fiestas at Ciutadella in June attract visitors from all over Spain.
Ibiza, this beautiful small ‘white island’ conjures up all sorts of images and preconceptions. In general, it is without doubt, a very laid back place, where you can enjoy countless numbers of beaches and coves, idyllic for swimming or just relaxing.
Surrounding by its medieval walls, the picturesque town of Ibiza on the east of the island offers more life, especially in its bars, restaurants, shops and dozens of stalls selling goods at all time sof the day and night. The once raucous Sant Antoni, on the east of the island, is less charming and is still trying hard top shake off its image as a den of iniquity for British youth.
The island became known in the 1960s and 1970s as a hippy retreat, but times have moved on and it seems the extraordinary clubbing scene has become the raison d’etre for most visitors to the island. If you like to dance all night long, and sleep for most of the day on the beach, waking up just in time to see the sunset, to the sound of the latest chill out mixes, then Ibiza is the place for you!
For those who prefer to discover natural beauty and culture, don’t worry, the island does not disappoint. There do exist dozens of tiny villages, where the locals still conserve former traditions and customs. And, with some initiative, there are many semi deserted coves to discover, especially towards the north of the island. With the dense pine forests rising up above the crystal waters of the island, and a delicious cuisine Mediterranean cuisine of fresh fish, vegetable and rice, Ibiza has plenty of flavour for all tastes.
The tiny island of Formentera, just 17 kilometres from Ibiza, is a place where you could simply lose yourself forever. A good starting point would be the ‘Mirador’ situated at the extreme end of the island, which has to be one of the most idyllic spots in the whole of the Mediterranean Sea.
Elsewhere on the island, Ses Salines is a natural wonder, with a wide variety of bird life, vegetation as well as the beautiful lakes of Estany des Peix y Estany Pudent.
As for beaches and water, they are idyllic and crystal clear, the prettiest being perhaps those at Migjorn and Cala Sahona.
The pearls of the Mediterranean, offering visitors stunning beaches and landscapes, as well as a rich diversity of cultures, history and gastronomy. With one of our staff from these islands, we are in a good position to advise you where to go.