There are tourist traps galore on the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. But each also has enticing hidden sides – and this tome will show you how to find them.
Wild Guide Balearic Islands (Wild Things Publishing) reveals ‘deserted beaches, plunging cliffs, emerald coves, mountain peaks, caves and ancient ruins’.
To keep your wanderlust fired up there are 350 images included in the guide, along with GPS coordinates of every location so you can precisely pinpoint the tucked-away spots that are unveiled. Plunge in and you’ll find images of a ‘magical’ bay in west Menorca; an Iron Age necropolis on the east side of the island; a unique restaurant on an islet in west Mallorca serving up ‘delicious paella’, and a secluded sandy cove in south Ibiza.
The authors (and as it happens the photographers too) – sisters Anna Deacon and Lizzie Graham – say in the introduction: ‘We fell in love with the Balearic islands on our first visit two decades ago, when we discovered a side to them that we hadn’t heard or read about, entirely at odds with their touristy reputation.
‘We were entranced by the ever-changing landscapes, the olive groves, vineyards, dry-stone walls, breathtaking turquoise water, luscious green forests and limestone cliffs, by the smell of jasmine on the air and the jingling of distant goat bells.’
Scroll down for MailOnline Travel’s pick of the stunning locations detailed in the tome…
CALO DES MARMOLS, SANTANYI, MALLORCA: ‘Deep in the “marble bay” this is a rugged, remote beach backed by dramatic, high cliffs [that’s] accessible only on foot by a tough hike in on a scrambly coastal path,’ the book reveals. The authors say ‘that there are steps cut into the cliff leading down to this hidden gem, which is never over-crowded’. Better still, they note that ‘the crystal-clear water shimmers in blues and turquoise over the sandy beach and there is a really great cave to swim into’. Coordinates: 39.2886,3.0896
PLAYA DE CALA PI, SOUTH MALLORCA: ‘A flight of 147 cliff-hugging stone steps takes you down from a stunning view to a gorgeous, narrow, sheltered beach with fishing huts at the outlet of the Torrent de Cala Pi,’ the book says of this spot. The authors say that the ‘turquoise water… is ideal for easy snorkelling with lots of fish and sometimes hermit crabs’. They advise that it’s best to take a picnic, as the cafes are located all the way back up the stairs, and note that the 17th-century watchtower Torre de Cala Pi is a short walk away. Coordinates: 39.3639, 2.8362
ES CASTELLAS DES CAPARROT DE FORMA, EAST MENORCA: This ancient site lies next to Es Canutells, ‘a sleepy fishing village’, the book reveals. The authors say: ‘Atop a small promontory are fascinating ruins of a late Bronze Age settlement, with a defensive wall, houses and cistern. Even more exciting are the Iron Age necropolis of 23 hypogea [an underground temple or tomb] in the cliffs below and opposite.’ Pictured above is the interior of one of the tombs. The book explains: ‘You can enter the tombs and look down into the sea and along the coastline, but be careful.’ Coordinates: 39.844, 4.1748
CALA MASTELLA, NORTH IBIZA: This cove is described as a ‘little gem’, complete with ‘a laid-back vibe, a chiringuito [beach bar] under the trees and plenty of shady areas to lay a towel down’. The authors say that it’s a great spot for snorkelling but there are rocks underfoot so it’s best to wear water shoes. ‘You can scramble or swim around to the next cove to discover the wonderful El Bigotes restaurant,’ they add. Coordinates: 39.0248, 1.5956
CALO DES MORO, SOUTH MALLORCA: The tome says of this picturesque spot: ‘Situated deep inside a beautiful bay with sheer limestone cliffs, the little beach here is fine-grained, bright sand, and the shallow shelf means the whole bay has stunning, clear turquoise water.’ The authors note that the beach can be accessed via ‘a walk along quiet roads and down steep cliffside steps’. ‘There are no facilities, but this bay is still very popular in summer, sometimes with queues: go early or late or enjoy it as a paradise out of season,’ the book suggests. Coordinates: 39.3136, 3.1214
ULLAL DE NA COLOMS, CENTRAL IBIZA: ‘This incredible sea cave – also called the Cave of Light – is the ultimate adventure,’ the authors enthuse. ‘You enter from land, with light streaming down around you to illuminate the cave walls and make the water glow.’ However, the authors warn, getting in it should only be attempted with an experienced local guide. They explain: ‘Once you take the six-metre (19.6ft) jump into the beautiful bright turquoise pool, almost the only way out is through an underwater tunnel to the sea – the alternative rope climb is extremely tough.’ Coordinates: 39.0717, 1.3822
PORROIG, IBIZA SOUTH: This little cove is simply described in the book as a ‘very quiet’ spot, with ‘beautiful, clear water to swim in and stunning views’. Coordinates: 38.8667, 1.3052
RESTAURANT ILLETA, CAMP DE MAR, MALLORCA WEST: ‘This priceless little seasonal restaurant on an islet in the bay has crisp white tablecloths and a local menu with delicious paella and a fresh seafood platter to die for,’ the book reveals, adding: ‘You can even jump into the sea between courses at sunset, which is just magical.’ You can choose to arrive by boat or via a wooden walkway from the beach, with the book recommending you book ahead. It adds that the eatery is ‘an excellent place to relax’ after tackling the nearby Mirador de Cap Andritxol hiking trail. Coordinates: 39.5369, 2.4223
SA FIGUERA BORDA, IBIZA SOUTH: This ‘cavernous tunnel through a tawny headland over a blue bay’ is ‘brilliant to explore’, the authors declare, revealing that you can ‘enter the sea from rocks on either side of the arch, which contains fishing huts’. ‘Sometimes known as the rave cave, it has in the past hosted pop-up club nights that are part of Ibiza legend,’ they add. Coordinates: 38.9551, 1.2185
PLAYA DE S’ILLOT, ALCUDIA, MALLORCA NORTH: The tome says of this rocky outcrop: ‘An idyllic little pine-tufted island that you can swim to – or walk when water is low.’ When it comes to the sandy bay, it’s described as a ‘gorgeous’ spot with a ‘scattering of boulders, very safe and shallow, with rich marine life, so perfect for rock jumping, nervous swimmers and snorkelling’. The book adds that the ‘views over to the rugged Formentor peninsula are spectacular’. After expending some energy, the authors recommend refuelling at nearby Restaurant S’Illot which serves up ‘great seafood’ in ‘a relaxed setting with fabulous views’. Coordinates: 39.8730, 3.1620
MACARELLETA, WEST MENORCA: ‘Magical’ and ‘quiet’ are the words the authors use to describe this beach. While walking to this bay on a marked trail, the authors say that you should ‘keep an eye out for wild goats’ en route. ‘The colour of the sea revealed as you turn the corner towards the beach is simply breathtaking,’ they say, adding that the trek is ‘best enjoyed first thing in the morning’. Coordinates: 39.9361, 3.9348
PLATJA DE SES ILLETES, NORTHERN FORMENTERA: The book says that this ‘beautiful, thin strip of sand’ is the ‘most iconic beach’ on Formentera and ‘truly heaven on earth on a quiet day’. Visit and you’ll be greeted by ‘white sand, turquoise water and gentle undulating dunes dotted with flowers’. However, the authors warn: ‘It is busy in high season. At those times, just keep walking north.’ Coordinates: 38.7595, 1.4356
COVA SA NACRA, WEST MENORCA: To beat the Menorcan heat the book recommends this ‘quirky little beach restaurant’ with ‘wonderful views’ that’s ‘set into the rocks, so you can sit inside the cave to eat and cool down, or on the terrace overlooking the sea’. To top things off, ‘there is even a ladder down to take a dip while you wait’. One of the recommended dishes is the ‘terrific’ black paella with squid ink. Coordinates: 39.9790, 3.8381
SA CALOBRA, NORTH MALLORCA: The book says that this ‘truly stunning, remote beach lies at the end of the Torrent de Pareis canyon’. It continues: ‘The 200m [656ft] cliffs almost encircle an expanse of shingle on the river, with a dramatic narrow gateway to the sea. Beyond are steps and a walkway (pictured) that are fantastic for cliff jumping into the open sea.’ The tome exclaims that just getting to the beach ‘is an adventure’, with a drive along ‘the crazy switchback of the Ruta de Sa Calobra down to a rocky little fishing cove that shares its name with this beach, then walking around the cliff and through a tunnel’. You can also hike down the Torrent de Pareis canyon, but the authors advise going with a local guide. The book notes that there have been choral performances held at the canyon since 1964, with the cliffs creating ‘awesome acoustics’. Coordinates: 39.8520, 2.8060
CALA CAP FALCO, WEST MALLORCA: ‘Friendly staff and delicious dishes’ are the hallmarks of this tiny chiringuito (beach bar), which is located on a ‘lovely’ beach of the same name. ‘[It] serves drinks, fresh fish and local food with a relaxed atmosphere,’ the authors reveal, adding that the bar’s ‘skewers of beef are excellent’. Coordinates: 39.4879, 2.5328
CALA LLENTRISCA, IBIZA SOUTH: Behold ‘one of the most isolated beaches on Ibiza’. The book reveals that it’s ‘at the end of a private road and rugged path’, but make the effort and you’ll be rewarded with a beach ‘you’ll have to yourselves and wonderful views’. Features of the beach include rows of traditional fishing huts and a ‘little wooden jetty you can jump off into water [that’s] a breathtaking shade of blue’. Coordinates: 38.8628, 1.2533
CALA CARBO, IBIZA SOUTH: ‘This little cove is protected by a horseshoe of rocky cliffs that perfectly frame the sunset, and there are a couple of lovely restaurants just by the beach so you can have dinner with a beautiful panorama,’ the book reveals. During a visit, the authors recommend climbing ‘around the headland a little for a cracking view of Es Vedra [a rocky island off the coast]’. Coordinates: 38.8948, 1.2182
PLATJA DE CALA GAT, MALLORCA EAST: This ‘lovely little sandy beach’ is located around the coast from the harbour resort of Cala Ratjada, the book says. The authors note that this bay, named after the ‘many stray cats’ that linger there, ‘is great for snorkelling and swimming and has a good bar’. Another of their top tips is to stop at the harbour on your way back for ‘the best homemade ice cream in Mallorca at Gelateria Des Port’. Coordinates: 39.7130, 3.4700
COVA DE PORTALS VELLS, MALLORCA WEST: The book says that the history of these caves is ‘full of mystery’. ‘They are generally said to have been cut by Moorish slaves, quarrying rock for the cathedral in Palma; others claim a Phoenician origin, giving an ancient sunken ship nearby as evidence,’ the tome reveals. It continues: ‘Local history says that the carvings were made by seafarers in the 15th century who placed a statue of the Virgin Mary in an alcove there after surviving a storm, and the cave is also known as Cova de la Mare de Deu. There is no statue today, but you can still see a chiselled sun, moon, solar wheels and a head, and some enthusiasts say these signify a Templar history.’ According to the authors, the cave looks down over the nearby cove of Cala de Portals Vell, which offers ‘great swimming and snorkelling off the rocks’. Coordinates: 39.4718, 2.5223
CALA BINIDALI, MENORCA EAST: If you’re in the market for an ‘unspoilt cove’, Cala Binidali could be for you. It’s accessed via ‘a steep hike down from [a] car park’, with ‘great snorkelling and rock jumping’ available around the headland at a little boathouse opposite Som Sis beach bar that you can reach by descending a set of steps. Coordinates: 39.8342, 4.1979
CALA BANYALBUFAR, MALLORCA WEST: If you like a challenge, then the authors suggest venturing to this ‘quirky’ place that they say is ‘quite tricky to find’. ‘Steep, winding stone steps lead down the cliffside to enormous concrete columns and a waterfall on one side of the quaint little harbour, where a broad concrete shelf popular with the locals leads to traditional fishing huts and boats pulled up on rails,’ the book reveals, adding that the ‘wildness of the rugged rocky shore of the bay to the north is quite a contrast’. According to the authors, the water is ‘great for snorkelling’. Coordinates: 39.6916, 2.5172
ARC NATURAL DE LA COVA DES PONT, MALLORCA SOUTH: The authors say of this dramatic spot: ‘Cut through the headland between the little beaches of Cala Falco and Calo Blanc [and] this enormous sea arch seems to appear out of nowhere on the point of the headland – you simply can’t see it until it is right in front of you.’ The authors note that it is possible to ‘carefully’ walk over the bridge. Coordinates: 39.5002, 3.2999
Wild Guide Balearic Islands: Hidden Adventures in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza & Formentera is priced at £18.99 and available from Wild Things Publishing