I confess that I used to think that Majorca was a beach resort, like Torremolinos and Marbella, but I was very wrong. For the benefit of those readers who remain as ignorant as I was until recently, let me inform you that Majorca is a beautiful Mediterranean island. It is actually about sixty miles long, so the island boasts far more than one resort and far more than one type of tourism. It is also home to some very rich celebrities. If you like sunbathing on warm beaches with cold drinks or cocktails available a short walk away, of course you can find something suitable here. However, if you like the peace, quiet, and clean air of a mountain resort but would rather be warm or cool rather than cold, then you can also find just that on this island.
There are several Balearic Islands but only four of significance to the tourism industry.
They are an autonomous region of Spain, located between that country and the north of Africa. Formentera is the smallest, and until recently, it had some of the most undeveloped and unspoiled beaches in the Mediterranean. Here, visitors are encouraged to rent bicycles to get around rather than cars, and skinny dipping is the norm. Nearby Ibiza, on the other hand, is known as the Party Island. Enough said. Minorca is the second biggest of the four but has managed to avoid over-development and still has some traditional settings to be enjoyed. Majorca, the biggest of the four, is about 150 km to the east of Valencia, and about the same distance from Barcelona. The main town is the port of Palma, which is an almost compulsory stop for Mediterranean cruise ships. The first thing that most cruise passengers see upon arrival in the Bay of Palma, on the south coast of the island is the big, beautiful, Gothic cathedral. This alone is worth the journey to visit because it is a major architectural landmark in its own right. Long before construction of the cathedral started in 1229, there was a mosque on the site, but little is left of that. The fascinating maze of streets behind the cathedral, in the south east part of town, is the most visible reminder of the town’s Arab history. There are narrow, quiet roads with a diverse range of interesting buildings. These are not going to be seen from the sightseeing buses, which are wider than some of the roads, but they are well worth the effort of a stroll.
A One-Town Island
Almost half of the island’s population live in Palma. The only other settlement of significant size is Alcudia on the opposite, north east side of the island. The Bay of Alcudia is lined with a very long beach and is, therefore, home to a large number of hotels and apartments. Well, that could be said about many parts of the coastline. It is a beautiful island with a wonderful climate, and the beaches are the most popular attractions, so there are people living most of the way around the coast. But generally, apart from Alcudia and Palma, it is only little villages and relatively small resorts. The numerous fishing villages of old have mostly been replaced with marinas for the constantly increasingly wealthy residents, both Spanish and foreign. There are thousands of boats now moored around the island. Many of them would fit into the category of yachts, but few could be described as primarily fishing boats.
Something for Everyone
Apart from all the cruise passengers, Son Sant Joan airport handles no less than 22 million passengers a year. Probably not many of them are traveling for business, so that adds up to a huge number of tourists, although some of the resident millionaires must come and go a few times a year. However, some of those cruises start from Palma. If you fly in to Palma the day before the cruise begins, that gives you a day to explore the town or the island, or to relax on one of the numerous beaches within an hour or so from the town. In fact, it is not unusual for cruises to depart quite late in the evening, so arriving there reasonably early in the morning gives you the best part of a day either in town or on a beach before departure. That’s living. A large portion of the British passengers arriving at Son Sant Joan, on the other hand, are heading about 15 miles down the coast to Magaluf, which is dominated by them along with Russian and Scandinavian bundled holiday tourists. The northern most part of Majorca is mainly bare rock, with some striking rock formations and wonderful twisting and turning roads. This part of the island is particularly popular among cyclists, with that entire hill climbing helping them to lose weight, gain strength or both. If sunbathing on a busy beach is not your cup of tea, then the mountainous north might be. There is nothing to compare with the huge volcano of Tenerife but there are some impressive ridges and peaks.