Amazing Day Trips to Take From Formentera by Boat

Ses Illetes beach is up there with the finest in Formentera
Ses Illetes beach is up there with the finest in Formentera | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy
Mark Nayler

Outrageously idyllic Formentera is the most southerly and the smallest of Spain’s Balearic Islands. With no airport, the best way to explore its Caribbean-style coastline and quaint fishing villages is by boat, departing from Ibiza Town. Here’s our pick of where to drop anchor on your travels, from flamingo-populated salt marshes to a boho-chic resort.

Explore the coast of Formentera at your own pace.

Ses Salines Natural Park

Comprising the waters in between Formentera and Ibiza and the southern tip of the latter, Ses Salines Natural Park is named after its expansive salt flats, which have been in continual use since Phoenician times. Take a stroll through the wetlands to spot its resident flamingos – although make sure you catch them before October when they head south for winter. The Visitor Centre is housed in a whitewashed 18th-century building that once served as a chapel for the salt workers.

Es Calo de Sant Agusti

A rustic welcome awaits you at Es Calo, a fishing village on Formentera’s northeast coast where the small harbour features wooden huts and jetties. Settle in for a long lunch at waterfront restaurant El Calo and feast on grilled or baked catch of the day while overlooking the Med. History buffs can walk 25 minutes to the remains of Can Blai Castle, first excavated in the 1980s and believed to have been unfinished by its Roman designers.

La Mola Lighthouse

If there’s time, leave the boat in Es Calo and walk to the Faro de la Mola, a lighthouse on Formentera’s southeastern extremity. Standing on a cliffside 120m (394ft) above the sea, it’s worth a visit not only for panoramic views of this uninhabited stretch of coast but also for the small exhibition within, which looks at the island’s maritime history and culture. Take a break at the onsite bar before heading back, and allow about three hours for the return trek.

Espalmador Island

This uninhabited island off Formentera’s north coast is privately owned but publicly accessible – provided you’re travelling by boat. Glide into the main beach of Playa de S’alga, a stretch of pale pink sand washed by limpid waters, or sail up the western shore to reach Playa de la Torreta, a smaller and even more secluded section of coast. In the middle, a wide salty lake is home to the island’s varied bird population. In terms of facilities, there is nothing available, so remember to pack supplies.

Playa de Migjorn

Playa de Migjorn is the name given to Formentera’s southern underbelly – a 7km (4mi) strip of beaches and coves that backs onto hotels, restaurants and chiringuitos (beach bars). Stretching from Mal Pas in the west to Calo des Morts in the east, its most frequented sections are Ca Mari and Es Arenals, but you’ll be able to spot little nooks in between from the deck. Stop for mojitos at shack bar Piratbus, which opened more than forty years ago and started life in a disused bus.

Caló d’Es Morts

The southernmost place to swim on Formentera is a remote and wild pocket of coast that feels like you’re a world away from pretty much everywhere. Surrounded by smooth slabs on which to unravel your towel, its tiny curve of sand dissolves into waters so clear that the seabed is visible several metres out. After getting your fill of sun, stroll for ten minutes to Chiringuito Bartolo and pull up one of the cute blue chairs to enjoy cold beers, summery cocktails and a seriously good cheesecake.

Cala Saona

An appetising blend of modernity and tradition can be found on west Formentera’s most popular beach, in the form of a four-star hotel, a restaurant, a chiringuito as well as old wooden boathouses. Hugged by low orange cliffs, it’s a top spot for kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding and snorkelling and one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset. Divers may want to sail out to the Punta Rasa headland to explore a network of underwater caves.

Es Pujols

Had your fill of silent, desert island-style beaches? Set the compass for Es Pujols, Formentera’s liveliest seaside town, where hippie-chic clothing boutiques jostle for space with late-night bars, cafes and Mediterranean and Italian restaurants. Another lure is the main beach, with waters protected by a smattering of islets making it the perfect swimming spot. Stock up on souvenirs before you sail away at the evening craft market where you’ll find stalls selling locally made jewellery, ceramics and leather goods.

Cruise around the coast of Formentera in style.

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