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Best Beaches of the Balearics
When it comes to oceanfront property, the Balearic Islands have vast and varied resources: everything from long sweeps of beach on sheltered bays to tiny crescents of sand in rocky inlets and coves called calas—some so isolated you can reach them only by boat.
Not a few of the Balearic beaches, like their counterparts on the mainland coasts, have become destinations for communities of holiday chalets and retirement homes, with waterfronts lined with shopping centers and the inevitable pizza joints—skip these and head to the simpler and smaller beaches in or adjoining the Balearics' admirable number of nature reserves. Granted you'll find few or no services, and be warned that smaller beaches mean crowds in July and August, but these are the Balearics' best destinations for sun and sand. The local authorities protect these areas more rigorously, as a rule, than they do on the mainland, and the beaches are gems. Some of our favorites are on the following page.
Be prepared: services at many of the smaller Balearic beaches are minimal or nonexistent. If you want a deck chair, or something to eat or drink, bring it with you, or make sure to ask around to see if your chosen secluded inlet has at least a chiringuito: a waterfront shack where the food is likely to feature what the fisherman pulled in that morning.
Es Trenc, Majorca
One of the few long beaches on the island that's been spared the development of resort hotels, this pristine 2-mi stretch of soft, white sand southeast of Palma, near Colònia de Sant Jordi, is a favorite with nude bathers—who stay mainly at the west end—and day-trippers who arrive by boat. The water is crystal clear blue, and shallow for some distance out. There are a few bars and restaurants, and umbrellas and divans for rent. The 10-km (6-mi) walk along the beach from Colònia de Sant Jordi to the Cap Salines lighthouse is one of Majorca's treasures.
Playa Magaluf, Majorca
At the western end of the Bay of Palma, about 16 km (10 mi) from the city, this long sandy beach with a promenade makes Magaluf Majorca's liveliest resort destination in July and August. The town is chock-a-block with hotels, holiday apartments, cafés, and clubs, and there are also two water parks in Magaluf—Aqualand and the Western Waterpark—in case the kids tire of windsurfing or kite-surfing.
Cala Macarella/Cala Macaretta, Minorca
This pair of beautiful secluded coves, edged with pines, is about a 20-minute walk through the woods from the more developed beach at Santa Galdana, on Minorca's south coast. Macarella is the larger—and busier—of the two; Macaretta, a few minutes farther west along the path, is popular with nude bathers and boating parties. Cala Pregonda, on the north coast of Minorca is a splendid and secluded beach with walk-in access only: it's a lovely crescent cove with pine and tamarisk trees behind and dramatic rock formations at both ends, though it's more difficult to get to.
Ses Salines, Ibiza
Easy to reach from Eivissa, Ibiza's capital, this is one of the most popular beaches on the island, but the setting—in a protected natural park area—has been spared overdevelopment. The beach is relatively narrow, but the fine golden sand stretches nearly a mile along the curve of Ibiza's southernmost bay. Two other great choices, on the east coast, are Cala Mastella, a tiny cove tucked away in a pine woods where a kiosk on the wharf serves the fresh catch of the day, and Cala Llenya, a family-friendly beach in a protected bay with shallow water.
Ses Illetes, Formentera
The closest beach to the port at La Savina, where the ferries come in from Ibiza, Ses Illetes is Formentera's preeminent party scene: some 2 mi of fine white sand with beach bars and snack shacks, and Jet Skis and windsurfing gear for rent.
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