Longing for limitless blue horizons, the coconut-sweet scent of sun lotion and the soothing murmur of the waves? Tussled over by crusaders and kings, Barbary pirates and beach-loving partygoers, the Balearic Islands are the marvels of the Med, promising platinum-gold sands, emerald landscapes and cerulean waters. Modern-day explorers have four main islands to pick from – Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera – each one ripe with its own brand of Mediterranean magic, and all with hidden treasures and off-the-beaten path adventures to offer.
Refusing to be pigeonholed as the party island (although bedtime remains entirely optional here), Ibiza has shape-shifted into a wellness destination with holistic clout. The island’s split personality makes for multigenerational success: whether your dream beach day involves building sandcastles and counting shells, saluting the sun and standing on your head, sipping green juice by day and cocktails at dusk, or dancing ’til dawn, you’ll find it all here.
EAT Don’t miss heaped plates of saffron-scented paella by the waves, preferably at Es Torrent, set on a tiny pebble-and-sand beach on the island’s south coast. Alternatively, up the ante for dinner with a gourmet feast prepared by your very own chef and served under the stars of a deserted beach.
RECHARGE Unwind with blissful spa treatments on board your yacht or head ashore to Pure Seven Spa on the west coast, near Cala Conta and Cala Codolar. Six Senses Ibiza is another worthy reason to drop anchor and destress.
BEACH It’s near impossible to pick favourites when nature’s been this generous with its idyllic shores but here goes: Aguas Blancas is a long strip of golden sand shaded by rocky cliffs on Ibiza’s unspoiled northeastern coast; Cala Bassa woos with crystalline waters and pale, silky soft sands; enchanting Cala D’Hort surveys the mysterious island of Es Vedrà, which rears triumphantly above the sea.
DISCOVER The fortified, Unesco-listed Dalt Vila, or Old Town, whose tapestried history rolls back 2,500 years.
The Balearics’ largest island still bears fascinating imprints of its Roman and Moorish past. Rich rewards for visitors include ravishing beach resorts, jagged mountains and the cultured capital, Palma: a sparkling seaside playground with an A-list following, including the Obamas, Boris Becker, Michael Douglas and home-grown hero Rafael Nadal. Glamour aside, there’s a quieter side to the island, too, especially with a superyacht at your disposal.
RECHARGE Treat tired muscles to Arabian-inspired indulgence at Hammam Al Ándalus Palma. Boutique hotels with spa treasures in store include Hospes Maricel in Palma and Son Brull, perched in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains.
BEACH Start with Porto Cristo’s white-sand beach, backed by steep cliffs, on the east coast of Mallorca – and enjoy lunch in one of the seafront restaurants. For something more wild at heart, try Cala Murta, a pebbly cove ringed by pine forests and cliffs.
DISCOVER From pretty Porto Cristo, sail to the nearby Cuevas del Drach, ‘Dragon Caves’. At their deepest, the caves stretch 25m below ground level; they are also home to a shimmering underground lake, which you can explore by boat.
At heart, mellow Menorca is as green as its unspoiled countryside: the island has been a Unesco Biosphere Reserve for nearly three decades. Despite its diminutive size, more than 120km of coastline invite discovery. Flourishing vineyards, irresistible beaches and historic Ciutadella are additional cues to visit.
EAT With a stint at José Pizarro’s lauded London restaurants under his belt, Zoltan Polgar now helms a power-couple of restaurants in Cala Torret in Sant Lluís: Salitre and CalaMar. Sip local gin mixed with cloudy lemonade in the capital, Mahón, and the ancient capital, Ciutadella, on the west coast.
RECHARGE Swing by Santa Ponsa Fontenille Menorca hotel, home to a trio of treatment rooms, a sauna, hammam, baths and a subterranean pool set in an ancient cistern. Treatments feature home-grown plants and herbs, plucked from the bucolic estate.
BEACH If you’ve seen photos of Menorca’s beaches, they were likely taken at Macarella or Macarelleta, two of the island’s most winsome stretches of sand. Also on the south coast, family-friendly Cala en Porter has a beachside promenade dotted with bars and restaurants.
DISCOVER Spend some time on dry land strolling through the picturesque town of Binibeca, whose labyrinthine streets are fringed by pretty, whitewashed houses. See why the historic port town of Ciutadella earned its nickname, ‘Vella i Bella’ – aka ‘the old and beautiful’.
The smallest of the Balearic Islands is arguably the loveliest, thanks to its relatively off-the-radar charm. Formentera’s bohemian feel harks back to the island’s emerging popularity during the 1970s. Coastal eye-candy comes in the form of pine-tree-fringed beaches with pristine sands and voluptuous dunes.
EAT Es Pujols, on the island’s north coast, is abrim with bars, cafés and outdoor dining spots. Eat overlooking Migjorn Beach at Gecko Hotel & Beach Club; in summer, Tuesday and Thursday evenings are for fish and seafood barbecues. End meals with potent tots of hierbas Ibicencas, a local herbal liqueur.
RECHARGE Gecko Beach Club Hotel has its own resident wellness guru, and offers a fleet of doctor-approved activities, including sun-drenched yoga classes.
BEACH While away the hours in a languid, blue-and-gold haze of sunbathing, swimming and watersports at ivory-and-turquoise Ses Illetes beach. Neighbouring Llevant is also lovely and how about a long languid beach barbecue for a blissful afternoon.
DISCOVER Swap your yacht for a wooden llaut, a traditional boat from the Balearic Islands. Go below the water at Ses Salines d’Eivissa i Formentera Natural Park, whose marine area accounts for 75% of its surface. Yomira will organise a local dive specialist to explore underwater caves and flit above the free-floating Posidonia meadows, waving at somnolent octopus, lobsters and groupers.
To charter the perfect yacht to enjoy the best of the Balearics please get in touch, we would be delighted to help.