Finding a perfect summer getaway is quite a challenge this year. I've got higher expectations when it comes to beaches by now since I laid my eyes on the blue waters of the paradise islands — Ibiza and Formentera. Blue waters. Swathes of white sand. Secluded. Pristine. Virgin.
It would be easier to top that if I'm in the islands of the Philippines and there's no doubt about it. Oh, well. I guess I got lucky. Just less than an hour flight from Barcelona, my desperate search led me to the Mediterranean Sea to conquer yet another paradise of the Balearics — the island of Menorca.
We arrived at the Menorca International Airport, about four kilometers southwest of Mahon or Maó (in Menorquí), the island's capital city. We headed straight to the western end of the island which is more wild and natural, less populated, and home to many coves and unspoiled beaches. We spent a good 3-day escapade discovering from the coasts of Ciutadella de Menorca up north and then head back south to Mahon to spend the remaining 2 days, which is closer to the airport.
Cami de Cavalls
An ancient path of 185 km long accurately surrounding the Menorcan coast, Cami de Cavalls or Bridle Paths is our friendly trail to reach some of the most inaccessible, pristine beaches of the island. Hiking and trekking have never been this enjoyable as we passed rocky zones, cliffs, gullies, lush valleys, trenches and farming areas plus the unique scent of the vegetation like rosemary myrtle and lavender fields.
Some of the trails are lined up along the famous ancestral dry stone walls of Menorca. It was estimated that around 70,000 kilometers of these dry stone wall can be found in the Menorcan countryside. These were built by local farmers mainly to shelter pasturing livestock and to protect vegetation and crops from the island's prevailing winds.
We've combined public bus and long walks to a good number of the stages of the Cami de Cavalls to reach plenty of coves. An unparalleled experience.
Trail 1: Cala en Turqueta — Cala es Talaier — Son Saura
The plan for the day was to take the public bus to Cala en Turqueta, follow the trail to reach the virgin beaches of Talaier up until Som Saura where the next available bus pick up point is. The trail is about 5 kilometers in total which took more than an hour.
From the town of Ciutadella, we took Bus 68 from the main bus station at Plaza Pinos to reach our first destination. The beach lies about 10 to 15 minutes walk beyond the bus drop-off point. It was a good walking distance into the thick woodlands dominated by holm oak, pines and wild olive with a well-marked trail along the Menorcan dry stone walls. Quite an enjoyable walk in the deep silence and tranquil atmosphere of the forest, not a sound to be heard except for the crickets and birds. Such a peaceful forest setting. By the end of the trail lies the beautiful blue waters of the cove called Cala en Turqueta.
Cala en Turqueta
Probably named for its turquoise water, Cala en Turqueta has a picturesque white sandy beach, shallow clear waters and some nice shade in the pinewood. It is distinguished with the beach separated by some rocks in the middle.
Cala en Turqueta is one of the many virgin beaches in Menorca without any service — no bars nor facilities. There's one young man though selling watermelons and coconuts — just perfect for cooling down the heat of the Mediterranean sun.
At peak summer season, the beach could get really busy so after spending the sunny morning at the cove, we head at the back of beach to start the trek up the Cami de Cavalls. The marked footpath it is 2.2 km distance to the next cove and is an easy walk. It perfectly follows the coast of the island which makes it worth the walk with the most stunning sea views. Next stop, Cala Es Talaier.
Cala Es Talaier
About 2 km from Cala en Turqueta, roughly half an hour walk, is another virgin cove called Cala Es Talaier. Great water, quiet and very nice.
Quite small on its size but still has that bit off the beaten track feeling. Its waters are very clear. It was a real treat to spend few hours before heading to one of the biggest cove in Menorca — Son Saura.
We continued the long but enjoyable walk (it took us about 15 minutes) from Cala es Talaier to reach Son Saura via the good old Cami de Cavalls.
Divided by a rocky headland in the middle, the cove consists of two beaches, Banyuls (eastern part) and Bellavista (facing east) making Son Saura one of the biggest in Menorca. Relatively quiet, the beach boasts a long expanse of soft white sand with shallow calm waters that open out into a large bright blue bay.
There's a strong presence of Posidonia sea grass endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. This tends to give that natural smell but tends to be overwhelming at times. Overall, its exquisite waters with amazing shades of light to dark blue and green plus that off the beaten track make Son Saura well worth a visit.
Day one is just amazing but it gets even better on Day 2. And that deserves a separate blog!