Spanish Island Weekend in Menorca
The Baleraic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca & Menorca) has been an area of the Mediterranean we’ve never explored and the opportunity came for us to explore for a long weekend in August. First rule of thumb — if you can avoid travelling during school holidays, do so. This will help you acquire better prices for your flights and accommodation but also your enhance your overall experience on the island’s key tourist attractions (i.e. massive queues to the beach and then to squeeze in like sardines on the sandy beach). However, putting that aside, the island getaway was surprisingly good in many ways. Here’s a brief list of the highlights from Menorca.
I can completely appreciate everyone’s definition of a good beach. A piece of your own space of peace and quiet to relax, soak in the much needed Vitamin D and easy access to facilities (i.e. shops, cafes, chairs/umbrellas for hire and carpark) are a number of key attributes that I look for.
Every single beach is unique in its own way and on a beautiful day and with a smaller crowd, they are all worth visiting. During our long weekend in Menorca, we managed to visit 6 beaches and here’s the highlights:
Cala en Porter. This is a beautiful cove beach village (southern beach) with mostly local visitors and has a few cafes and restaurant and most importantly, sun chairs/umbrellas for hire. Great spot to soak up the sun and the carpark is within easy access to the beach. Only 30 minutes from Mahon.
Cala en Bosc. Another mini cove beach village with beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water. This is a resort village with a large number of restaurants and bars catered for foreign travellers. Perhaps less authentic to the local culture but still a beautiful beach nonetheless. The journey will take a short 20 minutes’ drive from Citudella or an hour from Mahon/Mau.
Cala Marcarella. This is one of the most highly rated spots on the island (southern beach) which has been recommended by major tourism publication and blogs as a ‘must-visit’ beach in Menorca. The location is a beautiful cove with lush greenery and on a good day with significantly less visitors, I can envisage a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy a day in the sun. However, the drive to the carpark is a long, winding and narrow two way stretch where during peak season, you are highly likely to be stuck in the poorly designed road. And once you walk from the carpark (5–15 minutes), you may not find a spot on the beach to take in the view. The drive from Mahon/Mau can take anytime from 45 minutes to over an hour depending on traffic conditions at the beach car park. Therefore, moral of the story is to visit during off-peak times and if you are visiting during the height of the school holidays, arrive late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Son Bou. One of the largest stretch of sandy beach areas (southern beach) on the island with plenty of space to relax and super easy access to carpark and facilities (including cafes, shops, sun chairs & umbrellas for hire). Unlike the other beaches in the island, this is broad open waters and therefore exposed to currents waves. I would highly recommend a visit. The drive from Mahon/Mau takes a short 30 minute.
Cova d’en Xoroi
A unique tourist attraction to visit while you’re on the island is Cova d’en Xoroi which is about a five minute drive from Cala en Porter. This is a bar/lounge area set in a dramatic cliff side of the southern Menorcan coast. On a good day, you will have an amazing uninterrupted view of the coast. Admission during the day includes a beverage (alcoholic or soft drink).
Barcelo Hamilton Menorca Hotel
Early birds gets the worms. This applies for booking early and being prepared accommodation wise on this island. The Barcelo Hamilton Hotel is one of a handful of adults only hotels so it books out fast. The hotel is modern and new. Facilities wise, there’s two pools available and gym/spa. The rooftop of this hotel is an awesome spot to soak in your vitamin D during the day and turns into a sunset lounge at dusk and night club in the evening. Easily the best part of this newly established hotel in the bay town of Es Castell. The panoramic view from the rooftop is amazing and is a great spot to chill and escape the packed beaches of the island. The hotel is situated in the beautiful harbour village of Es Castell, where you are within easy access (5–10 minute’s walk) to a range of lovely local restaurants.
La Caraba Restaurant
One the most surprising aspect of this Spanish island is their attitude to fine dining. Situated in Sant Luis, La Caraba is an intimate little cottage which is a must visit for dinner during your time in Menorca. It is only a 15 minute drive from Mahon/Mau and the restaurant shows off a particular local and friendly hospitality and charm. The service is friendly and the menu is subtle but delicious. The food was amazing and the attention to detail was exquisite. Book your table in advance and make sure you do not miss out on this amazing dining experience.
Mercado De Pescados
If you’re after simple, local and authentic Spanish tapas and drinks, visit Mercado De Pescados. Of course, this market can’t be compared to the larger and more established markets you’ll find in Barcelona or Madrid but for an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, it punches above its weight for variety of tapas and beverages. Highlight of the market has to be their fresh Sangria which is sparkling and on tap for only €2.50 per glass. Beware of the opening times to ensure you arrive when it’s open.
Need to know tip — dining times
If you haven’t been to Spain, it’s probably good to understand their dining culture which is very different. Especially, if food is important on your agenda. Breakfast is at the usual time but for lunch, it starts around 1–2pm and for dinner 9–10pm. The later starts may catch many off guard and a simple way to remedy the later meal times is to simply snack more regularly.
Menorca is an amazingly beautiful island with lots of hidden surprises. Plan to visit outside of July and August and your experience will be even more spectacular.