The Balearic Islands are one of the most popular sailing destinations for cruisers in the western Mediterranean. This Spanish archipelago, made up of four main islands – Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca – has plenty to offer those seeking party vibes, sun-drenched days and luxurious cocktails. Whether you are looking to play above the waterline or below it, hit the beaches or the clubs, or just laze about among the superyachts on anchor, the Balearic Islands will not disappoint. Here we reveal the best way to tour this chain of islands by boat in seven days.
Boat around the Balearics by chartering a yacht with SamBoat. Alternatively, embark on a multi-day sailing adventure with Dream Yacht Charter.
The island of Mallorca is huge, seven times that of Ibiza, so there is more than enough to keep you entertained. Beginning in Marina Naviera Balear, sail 17 nautical miles anti-clockwise to the bay of Santa Ponsa. Here, the bay is large and it’s easy to find a patch of sand to anchor in shallow water. Just make sure to keep an eye on the reef in the middle of the anchorage, and don’t drop the hook in the seagrass – as there are hefty fines if you do. To the north of the bay, there are numerous multi-storey apartments and hotels where you can grab a drink, and even enjoy a dip in a couple of the pools that invite guests to use them when purchasing food or beverages. There is a free dinghy dock alongside the hotels, and from here it’s just a short walk to a large supermarket where you may want to stock up on provisions. As you face the main beach of the bay, to your left and up the hill are plenty of bars, eateries and an excellent steak restaurant called Parrillada El Ceibo – which does the best mixed grill over hot coals. The area is full of English tourists, and at times it can be a little loud and rowdy. However, the street to the left of the beach is a little more sophisticated and might be more appealing to families or couples looking for more ambience. On the south side of the bay, less than half a kilometre from the main beach, there is an outdoor zip-lining course called Jungle Park Mallorca. Here, you can fly through the air on wires, climb the obstacles and clamber across rope bridges set among the pine trees.
On the northwest coast of the island, about 30 nautical miles from Santa Ponsa, lies one of the most spectacular anchorages in the Balearics: Port de Sóller. This traditional coastal village has a rich maritime past. Backed by an imposing mountain range, Port de Sóller was originally a fishing village and is now a chic holiday destination. Sit back and watch the enormous superyachts make port, or marvel at the gravity-defying hydrofoil riders as they plane along the cool Mediterranean bay. If you’ve been waiting to try scuba diving, here you can organise a PADI-accredited dive course with any of the local dive shops. Mallorca’s shoreline is full of cliffs that plummet deep into the water, which are a haven for large pelagic fish as well as starfish and octopus. If scuba diving doesn’t appeal, make sure you dinghy out to a nearby cave and jump in with a snorkel, mask and fins. You won’t be disappointed by the underwater spectacle. Port de Sóller has a historic tram that links it to the main town of Sóller, 3km (1.9mi) inland. A ride on the tram will set you back €7 – it’s an enjoyable 20-minute ride if you’d prefer not to walk. In the quaint town square in Sóller, admire the towering cathedral of Parroquia de Sant Bartomeu de Sóller, an impressive church that displays medieval, gothic, fortified, baroque and modern architecture in one building. The tram rumbles right through the main square, literally feet away from your cafe table, so be sure to keep an eye out if you’re travelling with children. This is a fun place to hang out before walking the colourful shopping street, complete with a floating parasol display.
If you are looking to get away from it all and head to a more secluded anchorage, continue 5 nautical miles clockwise to Cala Tuent or Placa d’en Vidal. Here, you are alone with the cliffs and the pines. Anchor in the deep water to avoid the rocks and take the dinghy to shore to hike among the hills – you’ll feel like you’re on a small lake in the Alps. Two tunnels lead to a canyon between the cliffs, with pebble and rock walking trails to explore more of the area. By night, any day boats will have left and you will have the place entirely to yourself.
Leaving early, sail 90 nautical miles southwest from Mallorca, heading for Cala Talamanca on the eastern side of the island of Ibiza. This bay is right next to the main town and harbour of Ibiza, and is the best destination to drop anchor and explore the buzzing town. Ibiza has a reputation as the party island, but there is a softer side to this famous destination. By night, take a walk through Dalt Vila, Ibiza’s old town. This walled town perched high on the cliff has views across the harbour, and its cobbled streets are filled with restaurants that spill onto the pavement. The smell of fresh seafood fills the air as street performers charm their audiences and the atmosphere grows as the moon rises. As you wander through the maze of laneways and alleys adorned with bougainvillea-clad cottages and photo ops around every corner, be sure to stop in a tiny bar set among the stones and enjoy an Aperol spritz or a Mallorcan pomada.
When you’ve had your fill of Ibiza – also called Eivissa – and you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, sail north for about 25 miles to the top of the island and the anchorage of Benirras. Here, you’ll find a much more chilled vibe: yachts lazing on anchor in crystal clear water filled with fish, scantily clad bodies on pebble beaches, and cliff jumpers testing their mettle. The stone walls of the bay are covered with makeshift shacks and colourful fishing boats that simply slide up and down the wooden ramps when heading in or out for the day. The Benirras beach is known for its hippy vibe, where the long-haired, laid-back locals come to work on their full-body tans – and we mean full body, as nothing is off limits here – sell their wares and, when the sun sets on a Sunday evening, they welcome the moon to the sound of drums, horns and didgeridoos. If Benirras is too crowded, motor for a few minutes east to Cala Sant Miquel – it’s right next door and has some excellent cliff jumping spots for amateurs and pros alike. When you feel like getting out of the sun, take the hiking trail up the mountain to Cova de Can Marca, a natural cave formation formed over 100,000 years ago, and used by smugglers to hide their contraband in days gone by. Inside, you’ll find magical stalagmites, freshwater pools and even a waterfall.
From Benniras, it’s a 73-nautical-mile sail back to Palma de Mallorca. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins or whales along the way and, if the conditions permit, you might even get a chance to take a mid-ocean dip – but only if there is absolutely no wind and someone remains on board at all times. Due to the sailing distances between the Balearic Islands, it may not be possible to explore Formentera and Menorca within one week, but the islands mentioned here have more than enough to keep you busy. There is a reason Europeans have been coming to the Balearics for years – these stunning islands are just so diverse.
Tour the Balearics at your own pace by chartering a vessel through SamBoat or Dream Yacht Charter specialises at helping put together multi-day itineraries.