Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Visited July 2014

Mallorca is the largest of the Balaeric islands situated about 200km SSE of Barcelona. Its most important island neighbours are Ibiza and Minorca (Menorca).


This largish island has too many beaches for me to visit during my short stay, but the nicest section of coast I saw was just south of hell-hole Megaluf.

The bay at Portals (Portas) Vells abt 5km by road south of Megaluf. This is one sweet bay with several tiny inlets each with its own beach. The place was a magnet for leisure craft. This shot should click-expand nicely.

Looks lilke fun. For some reason I didn't get an invite aboard.

One of the tiny beaches in the inlets of Portals Vell  is Playa del Mago, Mallorca's original official nudist beach
Catch a #107 bus from Palma city or places along the way like Megaluf. This terminates at the Casino. Walk down the road and take the 2nd right - a dirt road that heads downhill. This turns into a track which drops thru the bush to the sea. Second inlet is Playa del Mago. Maybe a 10+ minute stroll from bus to beach.
I walked in from Megaluf - it has way more buses from Palma. On account I kinda got lost in the bush south of Cala de Cap Falco it took the best part of 2 hours.

Playa del Mago is a very compact beach. When I arrived it was super crowded - an overflow of people had spread along the rocks at the side of the inlet. About a quarter of the beach goers were "textiles" but nudists aren't offended by this in Spain, unlike some hard-core naturist destinations. There is a nice restaurant/bar just behind the beach, very crowded. Note the beach had some shade on the southern side after about 1300 for mean dudes like me not prepared to pay for a sun lounge/umbrella. Water was clear despite the boat traffic. The inlet shelves gradually which makes this a good beach for kids.
I haven't got any pix: naturists get nervous abt single males taking photos at their beach. Okay, I could have hiked along the headland and got a distant shot - but I was tired from my "lost in the bush" routine.

Cala Vinyes (Vinas), about 10 minutes walk south of Megaluf. This is a sweet little family resort beach and somewhat of a contrast to its brash northern neighbour. The #107 bus calls in here.

Cala de Cap Falco is the next south. A very compact, tight little bay and surprisingly crowded for an out of the way beach. 
Getting further south from here by road involves a lot of back-tracking, so bush-meister tezza took off along one of the dirt tracks on the far side. I thought I knew where I was going (there are many cross-tracks along the way) but when I eventually popped out at a road and asked a tradesmen loading a van to check his phone's GPS (tezza's phone is a MK 1 and doesn't even have a camera, and I'm too mean to buy an overseas sim card. Hell didn't need a phone in the old days - don't need one now. Except maybe when I get lost) it turned out I was a km or so short and west of where I thought. Duh!

This area is infamous as party central for hedonistic Brit lads and ladettes on package holidays. Wasted people and bad behaviour are not in short supply. However my visits mid morning and late afternoon didn't reflect this - things were pretty quiet. Most of the l+lts around were showing signs of wear and tear and were relaxiing on the beach or in beachside restaurant/bars in preparation for another night's revelry. No doubt I'd form a different impression if I visited after mid-night when the clubs and bars hit top gear.
I kinda like Brit package holiday destinations: you can always find really good deals on English breakfasts, other meals and pints of beer. Brits always seem in good humour and people watching is good value if you are not put off by lotsa ink and the occasional display of too much pink skin. I was struck by the number of guys who obviously hit the gym, although the emphasis seemed to be on chests/shoulders which was enhanced by the no-body hair thing: I personally think they should spend more time on back and leg definition. There were some very attractive girls but maybe the cut-offs zipped open at the front to show the low-riding bikini is a bit last decade. And ladies over 40 - this look just doesn't cut it.
Spanish girls are very edgy fashion-wise and tend to wear short tight shorts with a finished leg-hem. Zipped.
You may be thinking: who am I to appoint myself a fashion critic? Hell I'm an Olympic-class people watcher (comes with the territiory of doing so much single travel) and have impeccable taste. This doesn't apply to my own casual wear - $3 Bali Billabong knock-off board shorts; oversized long sleeve business shirt to keep the sun off, big Aussie bush hat and a pair of elcheapo K-Mart joggers. Okay, I look a total dag but it's inexpensive, sun-protective, and to tell the truth I don't give a damn what people think. Which is maybe the case for those over-40s babes.

Megaluf beach mid morning - not particularly crowded but I figure many people are still in bed nursing hangovers. Maybe double the crowd when I returned at 1700. But all is not lost for 24/7 party people - even at the time of this shot there was a DJ in a beach-club to left of camera and a bunch of cool people bopping around a nice pool. They didn't invite me in.
Megaluf is fact is a pretty nice beach - clean sand, calm (at least in summer) fairly clean water and with a walking promenade in back with lotsa competitive restaurant/bars. No shortage of water sport activities if water skiing, banana boating and wind surfing floats your boat. Some day trip party boats were cruising the bay.
An interesting point is that there were way fewer topless bikini babes here than any other beach I visited in Spain. Lady tezza reckons this is because of the Anglo Saxon males' dodgy habit of snapping such ladies on their phone cameras, then posting to mates, social media and voyeur sites. This begs the question: why are so many Spanish girls on beaches they frequent topless or naked? I reckon it's partly because they don't give a damn having done this all their life and partly because Spanish guys are so used to naked/semi naked women they too don't give a damn; and can't be bothered wasting time snapping and posting.

Megaluf and neighbour Palmanova. The more northern area, which seems a quieter version of Megaluf, is split by 2 small headlands: I think each section has its own local name. The whole 3 areas looked pretty nice to me. btw I heard that Megaluf/Palmanova because of an abundance of accommodation is a favoured haunt of older Brit package holiday makers in off season when very good value deals abound.
I noticed the headland road between Megaluf and Palmanova had a concentration of  competitive bar/restaurants and seedy looking clubs offering all sorts of inducements to high season travelers (no doubt there are similar backstreets behind Megaluf beach). Wonder if they are still open for the oldies?
There are very frequent buses into Palma city from this area - look for #106 from Megaluf and a whole bunch of others from elsewhere on the south-west peninsula. 

This area towards the south west corner of Mallorca about 40km by road from Palma city is described by many as the nicest beach region on the island. Certainly if long sandy beaches fronted by clear shallow water with heaps of picturesque boats anchored offshore is your thing, this could be true. The fact that a considerable section of long Es Trenc and some of the other beaches are long time unofficial nude areas (some sources say Es Trenc is now an official nude beach) adds to the attraction for many. The beaches sure are popular - on a nice Sunday in July I reckon there were several thousand people scattered over the area. Scattered may not be the best term - in many places beachgoers were quite closely packed. Note Ses Roquetes is often refered to as Es Dolc.
The major access to Es Trenc is via the resort town of Colonia de Sant Jordi in the south or small Ses Covetes at the north end. There is also a big car-park behind beach-central. 
People walk from Sant Jordi to the southern beaches of Ses Roquetes E sDolc) and Es Carbo. I believe quite a few people park therir cars along the bush tracks behind these beaches and a lot of boaties moore in the shelter of that small islet and come ashore for some beach time.
At top of frame the start of a  similar in appearance to Es trenc but quieter 1km long beach can be seen. I extends north from Ses Covetes to the slightly bigger settlement of Sa Rapita.

Es Trenc from the Ses Covetes end. Might be a good pic to click-expand. This 4km stretch of sand is whiter and finer grained than most Spanish beaches, but no Whitehaven (wait if clicked). For such a busy beach the sand had little trash. The water was clear and shelved gently making this a good beach for kids. Tidal range seemed tiny meaning if you park in my favourite location close to the water you don't have to keep moving yer towel/sarong. That dark stuff in the water was finely ground sea weed, probably a remnant of winter storms. I don't like weedy beaches but overall this was no problem.
The beach has life-guard towers, change facilities, a number of beach bar/restaurants, lotsa beach chair/umbrella hire areas although there is no lack of space for dudes like me to spread a towel or sarong. Sometimes a bit close to others if privacy is yer thing - I personally don't give a damn.
Nudists can be found most places along here but are concentrated from about 20% on from the camera to the 50% mark. Once again, plenty of "textiles" in the mainly nude area, and nobody cares. As nobody cares abt nudists in the mainly textile areas. I wish people in Oz were as cool as the Spanish in this respect.

One of the half dozen or so beach bars spread along El Trenc

Es Trenc from the opposite southern Sant Jordi end. I think technically this area is called Playa Estanys and mightn't be Es Trenc until you hit the rocks at the far end, then walk the next small bay. Maybe 1.5km. I thought the above section of beach was pretty nice particularly for an area easily reached from the many accommodation options in Sant Jordi. Didn't see any nudists until the far small bay.

Colonia de Sant Jordi
Seen above from the south, this long-time fishing town has been developing its tourist facilities since the '60s.It has an old section near the harbour and quite a few new areas. There is no shortage of accommodation options in all types and prices plus plenty of restaurants and bars. Overall it's a pretty nice place - given the choice of beaches nearby I'd be tempted to stay here if closeness to the airport and Palma city was not important. I read that price-savvy holiday-makers look for apartments etc in some of the nearby inland towns such as Campos. Campos is an okay looking place.
#502 buses run up to Sant Jordi every 60 to 90 minutes weekdays in high season. The trip takes about 80 minutes except if traffic is bad - I got the impression half the population of Palma city head to this area on Sundays.
Details of this image will be clearer if you click expand.

Beaches to the south of Sant Jordi
On the southern edge of town, the port beach aint exactly shabby. There is a wide boulevarde behind camera with a good range of restaurants and bars. Nice place to sit at a pavement table with a carafe of wine and check the passing parade.

Take the concrete walkway south of the port beach and you soon come to Es Dolc. Sand, water and a bit of weed similar to Es Trenc. No beach bars or lifeguards. Popular.

Walk across a couple of rocky area and small bay for about 10 minutes and you come to this first section of Es Carbo which recurves around the far corner to make the total length something like 1500m. Similar conditions to Es Trenc - distance from town meant fewer people but still pretty popular. References suggested this was also popular with naturists but there was only a few couples at the very far end.

Soller is a lovely regional town a few km inland of the central north-west coast of Mallorca, on the far side of the Tramuntana mountain range from Palma city. Originally a service town for the region's agriculture particularly citrus, it is now more important as a tourist destination. Nearby Port de Soller has some okay beaches and also can stand alone as a tourist destination.

Many visitors go to Soller on the historic (1913) train which runs from a building immediately north of Palma city's central Estacio Intermodal transport terminus. This runs thru the streets of Palma, across the lowland plain and then tackles the Tramuntana mtns in a series of steep slopes and 13 tunnels. There is some pretty nice scenery along the way.

First view of Soller comes from a 10minute stop above town. A good shot to click-expand.

One of Soller's old section streets dating from the 16 to 18th century but probably refurbished several times since. This area is only 10 minutes from the railway station and is full of trendy shops, restaurants etc.

The spacious town square ringed with restaurants and impressive buildings like the above church is closer to the station. Great place to sit with a beer or three and watch the passing parade. Here a nice Brit lady and her husband who holiday in Soller twice a year told me the town is even nicer in the off season and is full of accommodation bargains.

Church interior is not shabby.

A tourist favourite is the historic tram which runs every 20m from adjacent the railway station down to Port de Soller - abt 5km. Originally constructed to take citrus down to waiting boat transport, the line passes thru the streets of Soller and the central square above.

Port de Soller is on a classic horse-shoe bay book-ended by two high headlands and closely backed by the imposing  Tramuntana mountains. Note the location of the town bus "station" (just a row of seats on a roundabout) - you can get buses back to Soller, Palma city and other places here - take the widest street from the northern half of the bay promenade and walk abt 10m to the second roundabout. 

Stay on the tram when it first hits the bay. Go another 5 minutes to the final stop at the north end adjacent the harbour. This area probably has the nicest bayside cafes and shops. If you walk straight ahead and head uphill you will come to in abt 5 minutes......

.....to a nice viewpoint overseeing the bay. A short distance down-slope is a section of restaurants overlooking the marina. Seems to be a fair bit of pension-type accommodation in this area.

The northern beach - not real long and a bit skinny but okay for a town beach. Sand seemed clean but note it was renewed in the late 90s after getting muddy from winter discharge of a stream behind the camera. It is not fine grained. For a beach near a harbour, the water was not too bad but not pristine.

Ditto the southern beach which is longer, a bit wider and more popular

The bay side esplanade is lined with cafes and restaurnt/bars. Nice area.



After a pleasant few hours at Port Soller, I jumped on the 1500 (3pm) #354 bus to the far northern beaches. This traverses the wonderful Tramuntana mountains on a kind of Tour de France type mountain section  to Port Pollenca and then works its way south to Can Picafort which is on the bay near the southern-right border of the image. I was a bit short on time and jumped out at Port Alcudia.

The mountain road twists and changes height constantly. Several times we had to stop to allow oncoming vehicles to clear a tight corner. The road seems a favourite training run for serious cyclists on racing road bikes. There are plenty of hiking paths across the area and trekkers were using the bus to transfer locations. Above is the first view of the north coast.

The first beach reached was Port Pollenca. Short of time, I stayed on the bus but this appeared to be very similar to Port Acudia which I detail below. Port Pollenca is apparently popular with Brit families and couples - as such there are sure to be great deals on English breakfasts and pints of beer. The town itself looked pretty relaxed - no Megaluf.
btw - the rugged Formentor peninsula extends north-east from this part of the island and a beach there popularly known as Playa de Formentor is said by some to be the best on the island.

Google Earth gives the impression that Port Pollenca's beach extends the full 6km across the Bay of Pollenca but the middle and southern sections are rather thin an unattractive. But not to kite surfers and similar.

The main road between the Bay of Pollenca and the Bay of Alcudia skirts around the old section of Alcudia town. Originally established by the Romans as a good viewpoint for both bays, the old town has 14th century walls. It has been restored and pedestrianised and is heavily visited - unfortunately I didn't have the time.

Port Alcudia is only a km or so further south, tucked into the northern-most corner of the long bay which runs a further 20km south east. It is bigger than Port Pollenca but still looks a relatively unspoiled place.

The beach at Port Alcudia is fairly wide. Sand is clean and the water deepens slowly making this a good beach for kids. The beach extends down to Can Picaford 10km in the background.
Port Alcudia has been a tourist destination for some time but has experienced rapid recent deveopment. Newish hotels and apartments line the main road in back of the beach for around 6km. I didn't bother walking that 6km, instead.........

....relaxing in one of the beach bars with a beer or three.

In the northern corner of the bay is this section, even more suited to kids. This isn't IN the port which is behind those far tree.

My original intention was to grab a direct bus from Palma city to Port Pollenca, hire a bicycle and tour the Formentor peninsula plus the long section of coast to the south-east, including Can Picafort and the coastline beyond which turns into a series of smaller beaches. Some of these are nudist friendly according to the naturist websites. However a change of schedule by Vueling demanded an earlier flight out of Mallorca to San Sebastian, so I had to give it a miss.

This long beach starts about 6 km south of Palma city and stretches another 5km to the south-east. It was my home beach in Mallorca, not because it is above average, but has closeness to Palma city and the airport plus a big range of good value accommodation - the latter partly because it was one of the first package tourist beaches to be developed on the island and as such has a very big variety of 70s and 80s built hotels and apartments. It reminded me of Australia's Surfers' Paradise during the 90s. I liked Surfers' in the 90s - I like it now with all the snazzy new buildings. So how come Playa de Palma hasn't seen similar redevelopment? I figure so many other areas of Mallorca have been developed in the interim that there was little need for new places on Playa de Palma.
Note that platja is the Catalan version of the Spanish playa. Most signs on Mallorca are in Catalan although many dual (or more) language signs are present.

Various parts of Playa de Palma have local names - the southern area is S'Arenal and the northern section of the beach is part of Can Pastilla which extends further north-west towards Palma city. My Hotel Roc Leo is located at the Can Pastilla place marker, Frequent buses run along the beach to Palma and the airport.

Probably developed in the 80s, Roc Leo is a Ryanair of package hotels. For instance there are no pool towels and you pay for wifi. But the place seemed in good repair even if a bit old-fashioned, the rooms perfectly adequate, the pool nice, the staff good and the buffet breakfasts very satisfying given the price. Location is a plus - 2 minutes walk to nice sand, 1 minute to 2 good value restaurant/bars with plenty more on the beach road, close to the airport and only 15-20 minutes into Palma city by inexpensive, frequent bus from the main road out back of the resort. 
I staggered in from the Ibiza ferry at 0400, 10 hours before check in and the night manager offered me a room immediately plus the buffet breakfast for that morning. True, the room was a single whereas I booked a twin (there were no singles showing at my early time of booking) but it was adequate in size, clean with comfy bed, had a tv, safe, quiet aircon and a spacious bathroom. Despite being in a wing closest to the main road, traffic noise didn't worry me. Neither did aircraft noise. And I'm sensitive to these issues.

This shot from Roc Leo's top floor shows the beach isn't far. The restaurant/bar closest left had good inexpensive food and drinks. There is another just out of frame to the left. I knew at time of booking that S'Arenal at the beach's north end was a German enclave but apparently this has spread south - most guests and staff at Roc Leo were speaking German. I was there the night of the World Cup final - both nearby restaurants were packed by Germans and the commentary was in German. I'm not a soccer fan - I come from a rugby area and think soccer players are sissies/actors/cheats, many refs dodgy and high administrators downright crooks - yet I was caught in the excitement of the crowd and enjoyed the atmosphere and some of the player-skills displayed (particularly when the slo-mo replay showed what the kid who scored the goal did). The restaurant crowd was euphoric at the end of the match - I think they celebrated long into the night because the turnout at Roc Leo's early breakfast next morning was pretty skinny.

The beach at the southern end is probably the best of the whole strip. It tends to be widest and has relatively clean sand for a busy beach. Water was fairly clear. This end is popular with kite surfers and similar, particularly when the wet-season westerlies kick in. Then you will also probably get a bit of surf - in summer the water is pretty benign.

 A  walking promenade backs the beach for the full length. At least 6 chiringuitos-type cafe/bars are located on it. Both the promenade and the beach road widen a few km further north. They are backed with cafes, bars, restaurants, bike/car/surf gear hire, other shops and hotels/apartments.

The very southern most section of Playa de Palma adjacent the marina is probably least attractive. However it had a huge crowd when I passed by earlier in the day - S'Arenal has a bigger area of accommodation places than other Playa de Palma regions. This is a shot very late in the day - probably around 2100. I think most of the young Germans who seem to favour S'Arenal in one of the many bars preparing for the World Cup final. Speaking of which....

....these Argentina supporters were on the nearby promenade having a little pre-match celebration. Just as well - I don't think they did much celebrating post-match.

 Unlike Eivissa (Ibiza town), Palma is a proper city of 400000. Half Mallorca's people live there. It is compact and has a number of attractions for tourists. I figured the best way to see them was by using the open top hop on/off bus similar to Barcelona's Bus Turistic, followed maybe by a wander around the narrow streets of the old town. Unfortunately my exit-flight reschedule made this impossible. 
The most I saw of the town was from the ferry arrival pier at 0330 (note how far from town-central it is: the ferry companies don't run shuttles unlike at the bigger Greek ferry ports) and from wandering the main drag for an hour or so after exiting the underground bus station at Estacio Intermodal at Placa d'Espanya (you can also get trains here which run along two metro and 2 country lines) in the wrong direction. I wanted a bus down near the Cathedral and ended up near the top of the image. From my wanders I learned that the various cafe restaurants/bars are as price competitive as Barcelona.

I came in by ferry from Ibiza. There also ferries from nearby Menorca island and many more from the mainland, particularly Barcelona. Many ferries carry vehicles.
Mallorca's modern airport is extremely busy with flights from all over Spain and plenty of international locations.,