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Balearic Islands

Our Cruising Guide to the Balearic Islands

Bohemian Beats. Sunset Style.

Awe-inspiring Beaches. Partying Til Dawn.

The Med's ultimate party playground and so much more. Party on the white isle and recover on your private sundeck. Escape to the other islands for quiet beaches, coves, sailing and mountains.

Palma

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Palma is the richest city in Spain’s wealthiest province. Its residents step out with a confident, cosmopolitan air. Like a baby Barcelona, this ancient harbour is an alfresco fiesta of cafés, cocktails, shoes, shops, markets and bars. Mallorcans are modern art fiends. Colourful Catalan Joan Miró has a museum by the marina. Even humble tapas are presented at Picasso-like levels. Bar counter bites include towers of seaweed, spelt, peppers, prawns and Manchego cheese. Even locals struggle to get to Palma’s best boating spot, the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime Park. Its 19 islands are accessible only to those with their own boat, as are its 100km² of aquarium-like seas.

Sóller

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The wild Serra de Tramuntana mountains tumble into the sea around Puerto de Soller. Only mule tracks and fishing boats link many of the coastline’s sandy coves. But Soller itself is one long arc of sand. A dozen seafood restaurants are backed up by a muddle of honey-hued houses. Fiery red prawns are the local speciality; gastro-genius Heston Blumenthal is a devotee. Mallorca’s must-see village sits some 10km away. Hilltop Deià became a hippy chic playground in the 1960s as poet Robert Graves entertained his kaftan-clad crew. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones maintain a house nearby, surrounded by olive and citrus groves.

Pollença

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Just north of Port Nou is the fortified town of Pollença safeguarding a Mallorcan tradition of stone townhouses and cobbled streets. Pollença is particularly noted for its culinary custom: expect steamed snails, wild mushrooms, tuna-stuffed artichokes and crunchy bacalao.

Port Nou

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The eastern Mallorcan coast around Port Nou is the Balearics at its most bucolic. Cala Varques beach can only be reached by footpath or private yacht. Its golden sands are deserted at dusk. Mondrago beach lies in its own protected national reserve. A collection of eerie caves and clear blue creeks make it a snorkeler’s dream. The mountainous cap de Formentor offers the ultimate in superyacht adventure. The cap’s northern edge boasts a tempestuous beauty. Its southern side is ringed by boat-only beaches and shaded by Aleppo pines. Under the waves, the topography is similarly wild. Submerged caves and cliffs are populated by scorpionfish and rainbow wrasse.

Cabrera

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Palma’s best boating spot, the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime Park. Off-limits until 1988 as a military base, its 19 islands are accessible only to those with their own boat. The towering cliffs harbour herons and shearwater, while whales and dolphins bask in the 100km2 of protected seas.

Formentera

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Formentera is the Balearics as they used to be. It’s low-rise, low-tech and decidedly low-stress. Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin washed-up here in the 1960s. Given today’s languorous selection of beach bars, it looks like they never left.

The island boasts some of the longest, whitest and quietest beaches in the entire Mediterranean. Playa de Migjorn is dotted with chiringuitos. These are beach shack restaurants offering sunset yoga, beach volley, piña coladas and tantric massage. A few degrees north sits the sun-kissed sandbar of Playa de ses Illetes. Come sunset it’s desert island bliss. Believe us: even Robinson Crusoe would be proud.

San Antonio

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Time Out anointed San Antonio “the clubbing capital of the universe”. And rightly so. San An’ is the blistering summer playground of Europe’s high-tempo elite. The resort’s in-your-face hedonism tests the very limits of morality, let alone legality. Inhibitions are stripped bare as party animals from Moscow, London, Berlin and Paris arrive for a rocket-fuelled fiesta that throbs until dawn.

At dawn San Antonio spills onto the beach. But those with their own yacht can wind down with élan. The sandy-bottomed bay of Cala Bassa is but a boat-hop away. More private is Cala Conta, where an island-dotted expanse of blue waters cries out for a post-club swim.

Ibiza

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Ibiza has long been the destination of choice for the world’s party elite. By night, its clubs offer pulse-popping licentiousness. By day, its beaches detoxify with massage, yoga and sunrise smoothies. Many visitors spin such 24-hour hedonism into a rolling seven-day spree.

Ibiza’s Old Town is where the party started in the 1970s – and where it throbs ‘til dawn today. Its cobbled streets are café-lined catwalks: Soho meets St Tropez. This tree-dappled quarter welcomes A-listers and global celebrities with scant deference to social mores. Jade Jagger and Natalia Vodianova can be seen shimmying on the local dance floors.