Island Exploration: Menorca, Spain
Next time you are planning a visit to the Balearic Islands, consider visiting Menorca (also spelled Minorca). Just 21 miles away from the popular island of Mallorca, Menorca seems to have avoided becoming overrun and overdeveloped by tourism. It is the second largest island of the Balearic, with more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza combined, Menorca has a reputation for being peaceful and quiet. Resorts can be found in the south, while fishing villages line the north coast. There isn’t a lot of nightlife or many attractions here (except for the summer fiestas), so be prepared for some rest and relaxation on the beach if you choose to take Menorca holidays.
Explore the Beaches
One of the more popular things to do in Menorca is to go around the island in a sailboat, motorboat, or glass bottom boat (Warning: there are many nude beaches in Menorca, so make your preferences known if that is not your cup of tea!). Companies in Máo and Cuitadella (in photo above) offer boat tours, and if you go with a smaller boat, you are more likely to stop at more secluded beaches. Son Bou is the longest sandy beach in Menorca, and usually not as crowded as some of the coves that tourists are regularly taken to.
The southwestern part of the island is home to Cala Mitjana, and Cala Turqueta, beach coves with beautiful white sand and clear blue water. Cala Morell isn’t known for it’s beaches, but is one of the best places to view the scenery and explore prehistoric caves.
The entire island is a European Biological Reserve and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which means more than 75% of the land is protected. That makes it a great place to see distinctive flora and fauna. Menorca has over 900 species of flowering plants, including more than 20 species of orchids. 30 species of butterflies have been recorded, and the island is a critical part of the migration route of several birds. You won’t find many reptiles, amphibians, or mammals much larger than a rabbit or a hedgehog on the island, so you won’t have to worry about stumbling upon anything frightening!
Participate in a Fiesta
Menorca is well-known for it’s summer fiestas that take place in towns around the island, with origins that date back to the early 14th century.
The most popular is the annual “Festes de Sant Joan”, held in Ciutadella. The festes lasts for three days, with a full schedule of parades and activities the first day. The second day locally bred black horses are decorated with ribbons and rosettes and are ridden through the streets. The third day involves harmless (but intense) rounds of jousting between the riders. The event ends with a grand fireworks display.
Visit the Fishing Villages in the North
Fornells is a fishing village in the north that is a wonderful spot for anyone who loves seafood! It is rumored that the Caldereta de Llagosta (lobster soup) is so amazing that the King of Spain is said to regularly visit one of the restaurants found here.
Fornells has a population of around 1000, but that number grows considerably in the summer months due to the vacationers that come into town. It is on a very large bay that is usually calm, making it a good spot for water sports or a boat ride. But when it is windy, the nearby hills aren’t high enough to protect the bay so the water can get fairly rough.
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