Monday, August 31, 2015

Trails, Caves, and Beaches in Mallorca

After a great week with friends we flew to Mallorca from the airport in Alicante, about 2-hours from the house in Turre. We landed in Palma, picked up our rental car and had a 40-minute scenic drive north through the mountains to Soller.

If you stay in Palma you will be crushed by German and British holiday-goers, huge resorts, lots of traffic, etc. But Soller is a charming town nestled in the mountains, once known mainly for its olive oil production. We stayed at the Finca Ca Quatra which is a restored farmhouse about a 10 minute walk from town. Our room had a balcony which allowed for fantastic views of the Tramuntana Mountains. It is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful location.
The town is divided into two sections, Soller which is the main part, and Porto Soller which is at the port. The two are connected by road or streetcar.
The hills of northwestern Mallorca are a hiker's paradise. We set out the morning of our first full day to hike to the tiny towns of Biniaraix and Fornalutx. Our hiking trail was a road at times, dirt paths at others, and sometimes we just had to do a little train blazing.

We walked through groves of orange, lemon, lime, fig, prickly pear, and olives. We passed thru villages and the backyards of farm houses. We crossed paths with lazy dogs, curious cats, and hungry goats.

In Fornalutx we had lunch of fresh grilled fish while taking in the amazing views of the valley at the restaurant Ca N'Antuna which our hotel host had recommended. She also recommended their lemon pie which was delicious!
Our round trip hike took about 4 hours, including lunch and time for a quick olive oil tasting. It was one of the prettiest hikes I've ever done and would highly recommend.

On the far east side of the island in Porto Cristo are the Cuevas del Drach. These highly touristy caves are also really incredible to tour, so you just have to grin and bear it! The tour takes about an hour.
Near the end of the tour there is a large lake in the cave. The tour includes a classical music concert on the lake, which sounds a little hokey but is pretty cool. The acoustics are amazing. Afterwards we boarded a boat and were rowed to the other end near the exit.
As Mallorca is an island there are some really gorgeous beaches to suss out. On the way back from the Cuevas del Drach we stopped at Le Truc for a bit of sun. First off you get to drive past the salt producers/farms! Anyone who knows me knows I love good salt! We didn't do it but you can sign up for a tour. I was happy to buy bags for myself and friends from this salt vending machine!!
If you keep driving past the salt you'll get to this gorgeous beach which has lounge chairs and a bar!
Another popular and stunning beach destination is the area of Puerto Pollença. About an hour and a half from Soller there are lovely resort towns with bars, cafes, shops, and restaurants. After a nice lunch we just explored the area, driving past coastlines overrun with beautiful windsurfer sails, and finally parked and spent the afternoon sunbathing on white sugar sand with clear warm blue ocean to dip in.
Of course close to home the Porto Soller has a lovely if a bit boring shoreline. You can absolutely sunbathe, swim, rent water-toys, etc. But my favorite thing about this area was sitting outside at the gin bar Albatross with its selection of over 60 gins all paired with complementary boutique tonics and special garnishes. Now that's a beach cocktail!



Not all the beaches are white sand and calm surf. Near Soller there are numerous coves offering incredible vistas but also some steep hikes in and out. The town of Deia has an absolutely amazing cove which is not easily found, but worth it if you have some patience. We braved the warm but very strong winds to have lunch at a wooden shack built into the rocks one afternoon. We were rewarded by an amazing lunch of some of the largest langoustines I've ever encountered, along with amazing scenery.
After lunch we carefully picked out way thru the rocky beach and found a large smooth boulder to soak up some rays on. Sometimes a great experience isn't always the easiest.

Mallorca photos here

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