Archive for Menorca

Dec
02

Menorca: Island of hidden delights

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The Balearic Islands are known as a hedonist’s wonderland – full of clubs and rowdy young things. However, the quieter cousin of Ibiza and Majorca is Menorca. This smaller island is full of foodie delights, tranquil backwaters and 99 beaches, each with its own unique vibe and sea conditions. Whether by bike, kayak or on foot, Menorca has a treasure trove of hamlets to discover.

Magnificent menus 

Towards the north of the island is Macaret, a decent spot for a lazy lunch or tapas meal. Try the dangerously refreshing pomada, a local speciality gin that’s served with plenty of ice and lemon. Also, take a mental note of Es Mercadal. In this area, there’s a large variety of eateries, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to upmarket cuisine. An island with 99 beaches has abundant seafood morsels and a decent variety of seafood restaurants. Try Ses Truqueries, a farm combined with restaurant near the rocky shores of Cuitadella. Another gem is Can Bernat d’es Grau, a place that does local fish seared on a griddle, near Maó on the coast. In Maó, a converted convent holds a decadent market which sells local cheeses, sausages, capers and gin – all of the necessities for a fun night.

Must-see Menorca 

Menorca has 1,600 megalithic sites from aeons ago scattered around the island. Talatí de Dalt has a magnificent T-shaped structure called a Taula. The Naveta dels Tudons has an enigmatic monolith that’s shaped like an upturned boat. In ancient times, the inhabitants of Menorca mined for limestone, and recently these quarries have been restored to their glory days. The Pedreres de s’Hostal at Líthica is one such treasure of antiquity. At the early and later hours of the day, the shadows cast into these quiet, empty spaces are awe-inspiring.

An eco-view to write home about 

Menorca has been a UNESCO biosphere since 1993. Suffice to say that they take eco-living and conservation very seriously indeed. Wild camping is not allowed, but sleeping out in sleeping bags and in a small tent is tolerated, so long as you’re careful where you park your tired feet. Places like sand dunes are protected because of the local flora and fauna. Just make sure that you leave the place as you found it. Unlike Ibiza, instead of techno beats reverberating around Menorca, there is only bird song and waves. The island is largely flat, making it perfect for walking or cycling trips. The good news for the out-of-shape traveller is that these won’t prove to be too challenging.

Get lost in a kayak 

Athletic and adventurous types should try their hand at kayaking across the 216km of coastline in Menorca. Only around half of the beaches there have road access, which means that exploring by kayak could be the ticket to a little-known paradise. The Menorcan tourist board estimates that the circumnavigation of Menorca by kayak will take 10 hours in the kayak, for 10 days. If this idea seems exhausting, then there are plenty of day trips and pleasure paddles to be found. A good day’s paddle is Illa d’en Colom. An uninhabited island about 200m from the mainland, it’s a part of the Parc de s’Albufera des Grau. It’s likely that there won’t be a single solitary soul in view, only turquoise water, golden sand and a flurry of birds above and fishes below. Be sure to check accommodation arrangements before travelling, as many places are closed for the winter from November to March. However, going there during the colder period will mean that Menorca is surprisingly cheap and practically deserted – always a nice bonus. Check out cheap holidays to Spain in early spring time too. This is when the almond blossom comes out and the air is restless with new life.

The Balaerics in general are very easy to get to, with cheap holidays to Spain available through Thomson and several other travel operators.

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