Menorca—The Caribbean of Spain
If you are looking for a quiet vacation with small hidden coves, turquoise waters, soft breezes and warm sun and sand Menorca could be your spot. This stunning island set in the Mediterranean is in a paradisiac setting. Menorca is not saturated with tourists like some of the neighbouring islands, nor is it known for the party scene that is so common in Ibiza and Mallorca.
UNESCO has named Menorca a Biosphere reserve which means it recognized as an ecosystem of unique landscape and wildlife. Menorca works to protect and control the island’s ecosystem.
Being protected, Menorca only allows a limited number of tourists at any given time. Menorca is made up of small villages with houses, condominiums and a few select boutique hotels rather than high-rise hotels lining the mainland coasts.
The island promoted sustainable tourism long before it was a fashionable notion. Don’t show up in Menorca with just you flip flops expecting to take a 1 minute jaunt from the paved parking lot to the beach—the majority of the beaches keep their parking lots at least a kilometre from the actual beach and many you can only access by walking the trails throughout the island or by boat. To encourage hiking and biking the island has the Cami de Cavalls—a well-marked path that circles the island. You can walk the entire trail or takes parts of it to get to some of the best beaches and scenic lookout spots along the towering cliffs above the water.
Speaking of beaches here are travellingaroundspain.com’s top picks
Top 5 beaches in Menorca
5 — Cala Coves
This cala is an area that is in small box canyon protected on three sides by high rocky cliffs. Once you walk in from the parking lot—about a 15 minute walk—you will first be greeted by a small pool which doesn’t seem too promising, but if you continue walking to the right along the canyon wall (there is a trail that is easy enough to walk on if you have decent footwear) you will overlook a lagoon in a stunning turquoise colour. Just to see that view is worth the walk in. Normally there will be a few sailboats anchored quietly in the lagoon. You can either find a flat rock to sit on along the edge or head to the far end where there is a small rocky beach. The water is very shallow, warm and excellent for snorkeling as there are numerous areas that the fish like close to the rock walls. If you get tired of swimming and snorkeling you can always explore the area of caves that are within the rock walls. Most of the caves are boarded off but some are still open for exploring.
How to get to Cala Coves:
From the M12 take the direction Cala en Porter and then follow the signs to Cala Coves. There is limited parking so if you go in the summer you will have to arrive early.
You can also walk or bike in from Cala en Poter via the Cami de Cavalls.
Tip: If you have toddlers or a baby this might not be your beach as the access will be difficult for strollers or somewhat dangerous for toddlers. Once children are around 4 or 5 you could breathe a little easier taking them here.
4 — Cala Pregonda
Cala Pregonda takes on a completely different look from the other beaches on the island. The beach itself has red sand and looks like a scene out of a wild west movie. The area around it has volcanic looking rock with almost no vegetation.
The contrast between the red soil and the clear blue waters makes for a drastic landscape. There are numerous islands and rocky outcroppings that give fantastic snorkeling opportunities. This beach was my 8-year-old sons favourite because of the nooks and crannies he was able to snorkel in and around.
This beach actually has a number of large sandy beaches, so even when the parking lot looks full there is still room on the beaches. The 1st beach you will come to has high waves and the dropoff into the water is almost instant. Very few people stay on this beach as it is dangerous for swimming, especially for children. If you walk past that beach the next two beaches you come to are long sandy beaches with excellent swimming.
- There isn’t a speck of shade in any of the beaches. So you will want to bring a large beach umbrella and a lot of sunscreen.
- The parking lot is over a kilometer to the beach—and that is if you park close to the entrance. In the summer this place gets packed as people know that there is plenty of room on the beach so the cars go back to the main road which is another kilometer or two.
- There is one restaurant, but other than that no place to buy snacks or water and only one public sani-toilet which isn’t always in pristine condition.
How to get there to Cala Pregonda:
On the M12 turn off at Mercadal and take the direction Fornells then take the road in direction Benimel/la Pregonda. For some reason the final road isn’t well marked and you will often see cars wondering lost on a few of the back roads of the island. If you get to a private residence with a huge sign saying there is no beach access then you have gone too far, turn around and take the next paved road to the left.
3 —Cala Galdana
Cala Galdana is a resort town with a beach of the same name in the center. This is one of the few places on the island you will be able to drive and park near the beach. The beach itself is a large U shape in a protected cove. It has a white sandy beach with pine trees and shade on either edge. This is the perfect family beach if you have small children as the water stays shallow a long way out into the cove. As the beach is in a protected area the waves are noticeable enough for the children to jump in, but on the small side so they aren’t dangerous.
As this beach is in the center of the town you also have the advantage of all the amenities close at hand—restaurants, cafe’s, kiosks to buy drinks and snacks and public bathrooms.
The beach offers numerous water sports activities and boat rentals.
This is also the starting point if you want to walk to either Macarella or Macarelleta beaches to the right or Mitjana to the left.
How to get to Cala Galdana:
Take the M12 and follow the signs to Cala Galdana. This is one of the main tourist resorts on the island and is very well marked.
2- Cala Macarella and Cala Macarelleta
These two beaches are both spectacular, but I have put them together as they are only 10 minutes walking distance from each other. They are postcard beaches will be the ones that appear in the photos that you will be showing off to your friends and family. Both of these beaches have white sandy beaches and stunning turquoise calm waters. Cala Macarella has one of the largest sandy beaches on the island (although the sand goes back in depth rather than lengthwise across the beach) The parking is relatively close to this beach and there are actually services such as a small restaurant and public bathrooms.
As this beach is stunning and has a relatively easy access it also gets crowded in the summer season. If you don’t arrive early you won’t get parking.
Cala Macarelleta is a smaller beach, but less crowded as you can only access by walking 10 minutes from Macarella or ½ hour by walking from Turqueta. The walk from Macarella is along the cliffs overlooking both of the beaches and the views are literally breathtaking. You will get some of your best photos of the island on this walk. One small word of caution—Macarelleta is posted as a nude beach. We didn’t know that before we went and only noticed the posting as we were leaving the beach—although everyone was wearing some sort of bathing suits the day we went.
How to get to Macarella and Cala Macarelleta
Driving: From Ciutadella take the road Cami de Sant Joan de Missa and follow the signs. It takes about 20 minutes from Ciutadella. If you arrive too late you will be turned back. Cala Macarelleta is 10 minutes walking distance from Macarella.
Walking: 30 minutes along the Cami de Cavalls trail starting in Cala Galdana or 40 minutes from Cala Turqueta. Cala Macarelleta is 30 minutes walking from Cala Turqueta or 45 minutes from Cala Galdana.
Tip: You need to arrive early in the day to get parking. One parking lot is about 15 minutes away and has free parking, the other is about 5 minutes away but you have to pay for the parking.
#1 beach in Menorca—Turqueta
Cala Turqueta comes up in every guide book as a favourite for most tourists who head to Menorca and I have to agree. This is the cala that is featured on most of the tourist brochures for Menorca and with good reason. Its name gives away the colour of the waters, a deep turquoise. The beach is made up of soft white sand and is surrounded by pine trees to offer shade when needed as well as a picnic area. Sailboats are often bobbing in the calm waters further out in the cove and make for a tranquil and picturesque setting.
There is a small restaurant that sells sandwiches or small tapas, snacks and drinks.
How to get to Turqueta
From Ciutadella take the road Cami de Sant Joan de Missa and follow the signs. Take note that this parking fills up very early in the morning and once it is full no one else is permitted to enter. If you don’t get up early enough to get to the parking, you can always go to Galdana and walk the lovely scenic Cami de Cavalls.