This small, white sandy beach, backed by pine trees, flanked by cliffs and lapped by stunning azure waters, is picture perfect. In fact, photos of Cala Macarelleta, and the bigger and busier Cala Macarella next door, are widely used to entice tourists to the island. The bigger beach next door has car-park access, toilets and a restaurant, but it is well worth the short walk over the cliffs to this more unspoilt stretch of sand. The views from the cliff are incredible, and the smaller beach has a more remote and peaceful feel to it, something you will definitely appreciate in high season. For the ultimate beach day, ditch the car and arrive by boat.
Calas Mitjana and Mitjaneta
One of Menorca’s most beautiful (and as a result popular) beaches, Cala Mitjana is a gorgeous cove in the south of the island, with high pine-topped cliffs on either side and vivid blue, shallow and calm waters. There is a small car park a short walk away, but in high season this fills up quickly, so the beach is best accessed by boat. As with many of the beaches in Menorca, its remoteness and lack of facilities are part of its charm, but this does mean you need to come prepared. In high season, the cove gets very busy, so it’s best to arrive early and bring enough supplies to last the day. Swim around the headland, or hike over the cliff to Cala Mitjaneta, for similar beauty on a smaller scale, with fewer people.
If it’s a resort beach you’re after, they don’t come much better than Cala Galdana. An incredible crescent bay, enclosed by pine-topped cliffs, with a long stretch of white sand and yachts bobbing in the stunning blue waters, this beautiful beach might be in a resort, but it’s far from tacky. Backed by hotels, restaurants, apartments and villas, the beach itself is clean and safe, with sun beds and umbrellas for hire, toilets, lifeguards and water sports. A great place for families who don’t want to stray too far from their accommodation, there is plenty of space to play, and the waters are clear and shallow. The downside to its convenient location is that this beach gets very busy in high season.
With sheltered, shallow water and plenty of space to spread out, both the gorgeous beaches at Son Saura, in the southwest of the island, are popular with local families. There are two sandy beaches (Banyul and Bellavista), separated by a rocky point, and although there are lifeguards and toilets, the beaches have a relaxed feel and don’t get too busy. Together these two beaches make the largest cove in Menorca. The free car park is about 10 minutes’ walk away and while the beach itself is great for young families, the walk is not really doable with a pushchair, so it’s one to visit with walking-age kids.
In stark contrast to the white sands of the southern beaches, Cala Pregonda, in the north of the island, has reddish sand and the surrounding rocky cliffs are also pinkish red. Two tiny islets just off the shore buffer the wind, making the beach nicely sheltered, and the water here is often like glass. Like much of the north coast, this bay is quieter than those in the south, but it can still get busy in peak season, The nearest car park is a good half an hour’s walk away, so be prepared for a bit of a hike, or arrive by boat.
A stunning white sandy beach, with natural shade provided by the pine trees and rocks, Cala Turqueta is yet another piece of Menorcan paradise. With water so turquoise it almost seems unreal, it’s easy to see why this beach has become so popular that it has two car parks (only one of which is free). Not only is the sand soft and white, but this small cove is great for snorkelling around the rocks, and for those who like flinging themselves off cliffs into the crystal clear water below.
Playa de Cavalleria
A remote and wild beach, but with easy access by car, Playa de Cavalleria is the largest bay on the north of the island, and the reddish sands are backed by extensive dunes and rocky hills. The eastern end of the beach, nearest to the car park, and accessed by a wooden staircase, is sandier, while the other end is rockier and the water better for snorkelling. There are no facilities at Cavalleria, so bring supplies (and shade), and make sure you check the weather, as the wind can certainly pick up here.
One of the quieter beaches on the southern coast, Cala Trebalúger is an unspoilt cove backed by pine forests, a gorge and the mouth of the river Trebalúger. It’s only accessible by boat or a 40-minute hike from the car park near Cala Mitjana, but is well worth the trek. The water here is particularly clear and the surrounding area is brimming with wildlife, particularly in the gorge behind the beach. Although it’s relatively quiet, in high season tourist boats arrive frequently throughout the middle of the day, so it’s best to get here early or later in the afternoon if you want to avoid boat traffic.
Playa de Binigaus
This long, pristine stretch of white sand is perfect for those looking for a wild, untouched beach, but with easy access. The nearest car park is a ten-minute walk from the eastern end of Playa de Binigaus, on the edge of the small resort town of Santo Tomás. The sand is soft and plentiful, and the water divine – a great beach to linger on for the whole day. If it’s privacy you’re after, head to the far end of the beach, under the cliffs, where it tends to be much quieter. There are no facilities, but there is a fantastic beach bar and restaurant, Es Brucs, on the neighbouring beach at Santo Tomás, only a short walk away.
Cala Escorxada is not easy to get to, but that’s what keeps this idyllic cove pristine and comparatively quiet. A thin strip of white sand is lapped by turquoise waters, and surrounded by rocky cliffs and pine forest – if you don’t mind the hike, it’s well worth the effort. The walk from Santo Tomás takes over an hour, along the Camí de Cavalls coastal path, which in itself is stunning. A beach without hoards of tourists and a swim in those sparkling blue waters make the perfect reward when you get there. It’s almost a shame that you can now catch a water taxi to this once almost-secret paradise, but thankfully it remains fairly peaceful. Boats leave regularly from Cala Galdana in high season.