The Most Unique Experiences to Have in Menorca
Menorca | © Gassflor/Pixabay
The island of Menorca certainly offers an idyllic and peaceful alternative to the banging nightclubs of Ibiza and the bustling streets of Palma de Mallorca. One of the most untouched of the Balearic Isles, it comprises 270 square miles of protected UNESCO Biosphere and over 100 unspoiled beaches. A place of incredible natural beauty and historical interest there is always an adventure or experience to discover – here are some of the more unique.
Barefoot horse-riding takes a different tack to riding and caring for the horses, with the aim of promoting a more natural approach to the experience. Instead of being fitted with the traditional horseshoe, the horses remain barefoot and are cared for to maintain their natural optimum condition. Riders also take the horses out without the bit in order to encourage the horse-rider relationship. Available breeds include the Menorcan, Arab or French varieties and there are different routes for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. There’s also a unique full moon route from June along the coastline, although this is only for advanced riders.
Surprisingly, Menorca is one of the most unique archaeological destinations in the Mediterranean. With over 1,500 archaeological sites on the island, Menorca is a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evidence of human life dates back to over 4,000 years ago when the first people landed on the island. There are features on Menorca that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, the most important being a type of sanctuary called a taula enclosure. There are various companies that offer tours of the sites and you can even get involved in the excavations personally at Dig Ventures.
Talatí de Dalt Megalithic Site | © Leon Beckenham
Planoram Paragliding offers one of Menorca’s most exhilarating experiences. All flyers are accompanied by a professionally certified pilot to fly tandem, in charge of all flying manoeuvres, including take-off, controls and landing. Flights can last between 15-30 minutes depending on wind speed and weather conditions. Planoram is open in Menorca year-round, though some seasons of the year are more difficult to fly than others. Choose to fly in either Monte Toro, Son Bou Rock or S’Enclusal, and try to pick specific times for better views – for example when the sun is setting over the sea.
Sample some wine-flavoured ice-Cream
On the south of the island lies the Binifadet winery where you can take a free guided tour of the beautiful vineyards and learn about the winemaking process. There are also some of the best wines the island has to offer available to taste. The tour includes the tasting of two wines and it’s just a few Euros for additional glasses. An exceptional restaurant lies amid the vines taking the Minorcan classics and updating them with a 21st-century twist. There is also a unique wine based ice-cream which you just have to try.
Bodegas Binifadet, Cami De Ses Barraques, 07710 Sant Lluis, Menorca +34 971 15 07 15
There are plenty of wonderful snorkelling spots on the island including Cala Macarella where the cliffs dive into the sea, S’Escala with it’s clear, transparent and shallow waters covering a variety of seabed habitats and Binimel-la, an eastern cove with fascinating sea life and part of the protected Marine Reserve. There are various diving companies that offer underwater tours as well as PADI certification, kayaking, snorkelling, boat trips and stand-up paddle boarding.
Menorca’s protected environments make the island an idyllic place to truly unplug and unwind from the stresses of daily life. The island offers an assortment of yoga experiences to try, including day retreats, wellness workshops and drop-in classes. There is even a seven-day sailboat yoga experience with tailored organic food and optional activities such as sunrise meditation, paddle, snorkelling, trekking and more.
Yoga on the beach | Courtesy of Sailing Yoga Experience
In a beautiful traditional house at Ciutadella’s old town, travellers and explorers come together for an intimate relaxed and fun group cooking experience. After being shown how to make the traditional dishes of the island such as paella, caldereta (a Menorcan fish stew), fideua (a variation of paella using short noodles instead of rice), or stuffed squid, the group relaxes to eat their creations accompanied by plenty of Menorcan wine.
Paella | © Alagich Katya/Flickr
Climb the island’s highest point
The highest point on the island and considered the spiritual centre of Menorca, Monte Toro has been a place of pilgrimage since the 13th century. Not only can you take in the incredible panoramic views across the island, but you can also visit the Sanctuary that was built by the Augustin monks in the 17th century and restored in the 1940s.
Monte Toro, 07740 Es Mercadal +34 971 37 50 60
View from Mont Toro © Leon Beckenham