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Balearic bliss: Discovering stunning southern Mallorca beach by beach

Sara Darling explores the natural wonders of the jewel of the Mediterranean.

By LLM Reporters  |  July 16, 2022
Cala Mondrago

Words by Sara Darling

Mallorca and its discreet, hidden coves have many happy memories for me, and that’s not just as a child, learning to snorkel! The nooks and crannies are perfect for teenage dreamers and romantic adults. The south east coast of Mallorca is particularly blessed with caves and islets , making the coastline a paradise for beach lovers; and every dusting of shoreline is punctuated with powdery white sand, and, although sand does indeed get everywhere, that doesn’t deter visitors from clambering across rocks to claim their piece of the action.

Anyone with sea legs will already know about the turquoise waters which envelop Mallorca as it’s long been a popular stopping point for the yachting fraternity, but it is equally convenient for flyers with plenty of airlines landing in Palma from all over the UK.

Cala Figuera
Visit Cala Figuera for a slice of authentic Mallorcan life

Once on Mallorcan soil, you can easily head south along a convenient motorway which zips you past the rugged mountain backdrop. Hiring a car will also give you access to exploring and finding your own slice of paradise in the authentic villages which you will find along the way.

Returning to Mallorca after a pandemic-induced hiatus, I was elated to find that the shoreline was still as sumptuous and the water still as ice-crystal clear as I remembered. Although I have spent plenty of time exploring the island, I was open to new adventures and was excited to see what the fuss about the south eastern side of Mallorca was all about. Bypassing the popular tourist hotspot, Cala D’or with it’s packed-like-sardine sands, Colònia de Sant Jordi, is like a different world with its window-shuttered apartments, shady restaurant terraces, a pedestrian promenade and lighthouse which gives it an authentic island ambience.

hotel honucai mallorca
Hotel Honucai overlooks the harbour of Colònia de Sant Jordi

My hotel for the duration was the recently refurbished four-star Hotel Honucai, named after the Hawaiian word honu-kai which means sea turtle (in tribute to the native turtle species that is reclaiming its habitat on the island). With a prime beachfront position, this airy hotel has a Miami vibe, with it’s white washed walls and rooftop pool, and perfect location just footsteps to the sand. Many of the 78 spacious rooms offer sea views and all come with balconies, and are tastefully decorated to evoke the crystalline blue waters of the Mediterranean.

With a choice of two restaurants, Dinner at the Top is an inventive raw food concept, serving a menu which boasts a no-cooking philosophy resulting in delicious healthy food that is prepared in a fireless kitchen; this is complemented by Japanese grilled Robatayaki cuisine which only uses local produce that maintains the essence of the island, such as flame grilled mackerel and Yakitori chicken with peanuts.

hotel honucai bar
Hotel guests can enjoy the sunsets with cocktail in hand at the rooftop bar

The sizable rooftop also serves cocktails, and has live music every Saturday and is the ideal place to watch the sun set over Es Dolç and Es Carbó beaches.

While on ground level, the Salicornia restaurant opens out so guests have a choice of overlooking the bobbing boats in the working harbour that has remained in use since the Roman era. The menu serves fish and Mediterranean delights from an open kitchen, as well as an extensive buffet breakfast.

I also witnessed the island’s custom ”Art of Ronquero’ which consisted of the chef butchering a freshly caught tuna, in a ritual for a select few. Not for the squeamish, but resulted in sampling the freshest sashimi straight off the bone.

The beach is steps away from the hotel, and I took advantage of rolling out of bed for an early morning dip in the soup-like sea. Life is laid back here, with a few joggers pounding the sidewalk before the midday sun, as I embraced my inner mermaid, and watched the parade of parasol laden restaurants lay their tables for the day from the comfort of the calm ocean.

salt flats Mallorca
The salt flats at nearby Salinas d’Es Trenc have been producing salt since the mid-20th century

Although Palma has the culture with its galleries and music scene, islanders love visiting the south coast, and it doesn’t mean it is lacking sophistication elsewhere. Along with water sports and fishing, salt plays an important role in the region and the salt flats at nearby Salinas d’Es Trenc have been producing salt for the region since the mid-20th century. Visitors are able to visit the farm and experience salt skimming for themselves, and it’s a treasure trove for bird watchers who can spot rare birds and flamingos when they are in season.

No holiday would be complete without exploring Mallorca’s coastline, and the best way to do this is with a locally chartered boat. There are a range of vessels available and you can go as a couple or a group. Ask your skipper to show you some hidden beaches and they will transport you to some of the most utopian calas you can imagine. Swerve the popular resorts such as Santanyi, Cala Figuera and Botanicactus which will be packed with burnt bodies, ice cream parlours and loud music, and explore the natural beauty that makes up the south coast, which consists of enchanting sea inlets, flanked by mystical pine-covered cliffs.

mallorca boat hire
Charter a boat for the best way to explore the stunning coastline

You could easily spend a day exploring an intriguing archipelago that makes up Cabrera Island. Boasting a national park, caves, a small castle and museum, it draws tourists who flock to see the remnants of the prisoners quarters during the Napoleanic wars. Or if you don’t have time to stop off, you can view it from the ocean as it makes a perfect jumping off point for a dip, and you can explore the colourful schools of frolicing fish.

Fans of white sandy beaches will love Playa d’Es Trenc. Offering a 3km stretch of gently-sloped white sand, backed by dunes, and seemingly endless turquoise sea, this is perfect for families, friends and couples, and at just 6km from Colonia de Sant Jordi it makes a great sunset stop as there are several chiringuitos (bars) which offer sundowner happy hours.

Whereas Santanyí is a prime example of what happens when you take an unpretentious town and a creative mix of residents. Unofficially the island’s Art Quarter, you can explore numerous galleries within its maze of pretty streets. It is also close to the Blue Flag beach Cala Mondragó, which is located within the natural park of Mondragó, and adjacent to the bigger bay of Playa S’Amarador which offers hammocks, showers and a bar.

Cala Mondragó
Cala Mondragó is a slice of paradise

If you just want to explore and mingle with the locals over a cappuccino or a fish lunch, the small villages that punctuate the area have weekly market days which offer an authentic slice of life. With easy access to the surrounding villages, Colònia de Sant Jordi is an ideal base, and you should not miss the eponymous village of Cala Figuera.

This picturesque fjord-like bay houses small boats and is the launching point for local fishermen. Named after the fig trees which pepper the skyline along with the traditional fisherman’s houses and boat sheds, you will feel like you’re in a movie as you explore the harbour and soak up the heady scent of hibiscus, pine and almond trees and amaze at the colours of the azure sky and turquoise sea.

In a nutshell

Offering a plethora of activities, south Mallorca is the perfect fusion of relaxation and adventure and without a doubt, the ideal location to discover the natural wonders of the jewel of the Mediterranean and the Honucai Hotel is the ideal base to chill at the spa or rooftop plunge pool after you have exerted yourself; and if you’re worried about indulging in too much delicious food, it is even has a gym! With the friendly locals and impeccable service, there’s no doubt that you’ll be wooed by what’s on offer and be planning your return visit. 

Factbox

For details of the featured hotel and restaurant visit hotelhonucai.com and salicorniarestaurant.com