Sailing the Balearics

Cap Formentor, Ciudadela, Fornells, Port Mahon, Palma de Mallorca, Soller, Formentera, Ibiza San Antoni.

A good example of how tourism can be effectively developed and organized without slaughtering heritage and landscape, the Balearic Islands became an absolute favourite among northerners and Anglo-Saxons... Each island is profoundly different, but all share a very good service for yachts, excellent charter fleets, plenty of anchorages and opportunities for everyone.

Our top 3 SAILPRO anchorages

1. Espalmador - Formentera

2. Cala Figuera - Cap Formentor in Mallorca

3. Isla Colom - Menorca

Our sailing notes

Weather: certainly a lively destination, being Menorca the Island of Winds... The Mistral can blow from the Gulf of Lion and turn right, investing the area from anything between ENE and NNW... As you can see even on an Atlas, the fetch is relevant, so you can expect a bumpy ride if the God of winds is in a bad mood. Northern Menorca is indeed a wild place. One of the peculiarity of this area is that swell looks capable of turning around every cape. 

Breezes are strong and reliable all around the Balearics, blowing up to 20 knots. They rarely blow towards the coast, but most likely with an angle between 30 and 45 degrees…

Gastronomy: Menorca and Maiorca, like most of the Mediterranean Islands, have a culinary heritage that is more attached to the land than to the sea, which is where the invaders came from. Maiorca has superb meat dishes, especially lamb and pork (hams, sobresadas, sausages), while Menorca has a fine choice of pork and cheeses. The lamb leg at the Bardia in palma is the best I ever had. Fornells is famous for its expensive lobsters. The local fish soup is the caldereta de pescados Y mariscos.The Spanish know their way around fishing. Wonderful octopus, lobster, mussels and cod. 

San Antoni de Portmani has one of the best butchers I have ever seen, carnes March.

Wine: summer is time for Cava, a palatable and not expensive local champagne. Red and whites tend to be really similar in my humble opinion... 

Recommended restaurants: 

Palma : Bardia (on the street between Placa da Lotja and Carrer D’Apuntadors) 

Soller : Can Miquelina

Our itinerary

The eastern itinerary of Eastern Mallorca and Menorca is perfect for those who seek landscape, nature, heritage and secluded anchorages. Western Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera are more for the beach lover and for those who like to pack heavy, with plenty of opportunities to use fashionable clothes. 

Ciudadela: if you happen to find a place in the tiny and justly famous harbour of Ciudadela, get lost in the marvelous old town. Sailing to Fornells there is a wide selection of spectacular anchorages, well sheltered from anything but the N… Cala Algayerens(4 02' 56'' N, 3 55' 15'' E) is certainly among the best, with its shallow azure waters and white (if popular) beaches. Good holding on sand, perfect landscape, desert at night. Fornells: is an attractive village at the entrance of a spectacular natural harbour that offers several choices to spend a calm night. 

Fornells to Mahon: although more developed, this section of the coast deserve a praise for its several coves. Greener than the western side, we particularly loved the area around Isla Colom. In the various anchorages (and mooring buoys) one can find shelter from most winds. Cala Tamarells has spectacular beaches. The magnificent and secluded cove in the NE corner (onj the main island) has no mooring buoys but provides shelters from anything except strong NE. 

MNelson used to say, ‘there are only three good harbours in the Med, Mahon, July and August’: it’s true that Mahon, the biggest natural harbour in the Mediterranean, deserve a visit for its size and beauty. Unfortunately anchorage is strictly limited to the (magnificent) cove just N of the entrance, linked to the main harbour with a man-made and well-lit channel, and to another area by the island in the middle. The citadel, forts, houses on the waterfront, and the harmony of the whole port make this a memorable stop. 

The S coast of Menorca is sheltered from the NE winds but not as spectacular as the N coast. From Ciudadela it's a 25 miles crossing to Cap Formentor, one of the grandest of the Mediterranean. Properly impressive and deservedly historic, goes in to the Capes-to-round list. If the wind is from the S, anchor and spend the night in Cala Figuera, 4 miles W of the Cape (39 57' 09''N, 3 10' 38''W). In case of NE swell you can find some shelter in a tiny cove just 2 miles EWE of the cape. You need a line ashore because swinging room is limited. 

Cap del Freu area: there are two very pleasant bays between Cap de Pera and Cap del Freu notably Cala Molto (39 43'38''N, 3 27'13''E). Sheltered from anything except NE. If the weather is calm, or if the wind blows from the SW, anchor along the spectacular coast between Cap del Freu and Cap Ferrutx.

North Coast of Mallorca: although often rolly, it's a magnificent coast that deserves exploration. Shelters are rare and basically non existent in case of northerly winds, even in the harbour of Soller. Just sail by the coast and find your favourite spot, without missing Cala de Calobra.

Andtratx is very well developed harbour offers a wide anchorage area outside if you do not want to moor to the mooring docks, managed by PortBalear and very honest in price.

Dragonera: this magnificent island is a national park and is well worth a visit. Anchor as close as possible to the small cove on the NE end, where there is the NP dock. In case of NW gales, good shelter can be found well into this tiny cove, with lines ashore to the dock, the anchor in 3 metres and the stern in 2.5. You can disembark here and do one of the well maintained hikes.

From Dragonera it's a 45 miles crossing to Ibiza.

Eivissa: the E coast of Ibiza is not our favourite, and I’d personally skip Eivissa altogether, with obnoxious mooring prices and a crowd that makes you wonder how the newer generations will ever find a job.

Formentera-Espalmador: the N tip of Formentera is just a 2-mile long spit of sand that at one point dives in to reappear after 100 metres and form Isla Espalmador. This whole Indian Ocean style marvel creates a wide bay where a varied collection of yachts, from 20 to 250 feet, find shelter and solace. Isla Espalmador itself provides more shelter and creates a magnificent bay where mooring buoys have been placed (reservation essential in high season) – not free. The clear waters, white sands, thermal pools, long beaches and beach-bars provide ample scope not to get bored.

Es Vedrà: this magnificent island, a huge pinnacle of rock, is truly magnificent. There is a convenient anchorage in mid channel between the island and a smaller islet on the NW coast. Let go in 6 metres clear of the rocks. The water is amazing

San Antony and Isla Conejera: from Espalmador to San Antonio, this steep coast offers very nice anchorages, which we suggest for day use. Once in the San Antonio bay you can either spend the night anchored or moored close to the very lively town, where the chillout-famous Café Del Mar is located (expect the same crowds), or let go in the bay on the SE side of Isla Conejera, another National park. 

N coast of Ibiza: this shores offer a very different side of an otherwise fashionable island. Steep and abrupt, the cliffs are impressive and barren. There are several anchorages, none sheltered from all sides but overall not bad. 

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