Following a bright and early start on Sunday we set sail to explore our final Balearic Island, Menorca. We sailed the majority of the journey with favourable winds most of the way and which picked up to Force 6 as we approached Menorca, forcing us to change our plan to visit Cala Cova on the south coast, (supposedly “the most spectacular cove in the Balearics”) and anchor in the next Cala for the night, so instead we made for the shelter of Puerto De Mahon.
The Puerto De Mahon bay is a very large natural harbour with a huge fort on the North of the entrance. We berthed in Marina de Mahon, which is in a great central location in front of the restaurants and bars, which being early in the season were still relatively quiet. This was to be the start of a great few days Mark and I spent exploring a beautiful and unspoilt island, our favourite so far. We headed out for dinner on the first night to discover that the top of the marina had been taken over for the week by massive racing yachts in the annual Maxi 72 class, together with a gaggle of even larger Wally yachts weighing in at well over 100ft. I was shocked by the amount of “stuff” that comes with these beasts; they have their own trucks and large shipping containers that follow them around. The racing is a big event for Mahon that was due to start on Wednesday but was delayed a day due to strong winds (F7), although when they did eventually head out, they obligingly raised their sails close in to the marina so we could get a feel for the scale of these incredibly powerful yachts, before they headed out of sight to race in the open sea.
We decided to stay put in Mahon and hire a car to explore the island. We rented a tiny Toyota not much bigger than a Smart car, which turned out to be perfect for some of the very narrow streets of Mahon and out in the country lanes. On day one, we toured the length of the Island (All 25 ish miles of it), which seems to be the least developed of the Balearics and unlike the barren desert-like southern Spanish coast, has lots of trees and shrubs. Our tour took in the following locations:
Cala Coves – this is the Cala described as the “most spectacular in the Balearics”, and it was breath-taking. It was so still and peaceful, we were virtually the only visitors and all you could hear was the song of the birds. The water was an amazing turquoise, the rocky cliffs surround you and are filled with man made cave dwellings, over 150, you can imagine the community of people that used to live in this beautiful location.
Mount Toro – This is the highest point on the island, with great views in all directions of the island, definitely a photo opportunity. Sorry to say we admired the view but did not go around the 16th Century Sanctuary and Church.
Fornells – It is a large natural harbour, but seems quite touristy and unfortunately we picked the cafe where the German hiking group had decided to stop and entertain us with some out of tune German folk music, very um-pam-pa. That sent us heading for the hills. We were a little disappointed.
Ciutadella – This on the other side of the island, it has a small harbour area and a town similar to Mahon, but not as pretty in my opinion. We had a walk around the harbour area and stopped for a lovely lunch, but did not explore further as nothing new to offer.
Calla Morell – Is a small Cala on the northern side of the island. It has a group of fourteen caves artificially carved into the rock, which form the largest necropolis on the island.
Es Grau – A very pretty little village, with a long sandy beach. At this time of year it is lovely, but I can imagine in the summer this village gets packed out. My only criticism is that the bay is pin-cushioned with bright yellow mooring buoys for small boats/dinghy’s, it has ruined the view as these are all you see.
Fortress La Mola – it protects the north side of the Mahon harbour and was built in 1852 by the Spanish, I think to stop the naughty English invading again. It is a massive fort with vast tunnels and gun placements, thousands of soldiers must have been based there, it is so big it is hard to visualise and appreciate the layout of the site when you are walking around it.
We decided to stay until Friday, giving us Thursday to relax and doing any final jobs, plus Mark had the opportunity to go diving in the afternoon. As the only paying guest on the dive with two instructors, Mark had the dubious pleasure of trying not to embarrass himself on his first dive in the Med, I think he did ok. The visibility was amazing, and the dive included a cave, not much fish life though, but I think he managed to sit on a squid.