Secret coves, beaches and harbours in Minorca
In the previous section, I spoke about the coastline near Fornells. It’s the part that most interests me as I’m based there and I’m not going into as much detail with the all the varied and beautiful coast of Minorca. A few general characteristics:
An imaginary line divides Minorca into two halves, North and South. Even the earth is different on either side of the line; darker, red sandstone with areas of slate to the North and pale limestone to the South. The coastlines are also different. Rugged and wind-beaten in the North, with Fornells as a haven, except in northerly gales. Generally, lower with beaches and long stretches of sand in the South.
Although the entire South coast is a succession of coves and beaches, there are more towards the ends of the island. Most of the early dwellers on Minorca were to be found at the South Easterly point where the caves were most abundant. Today this area is much influenced by the populous capital, Mahon. Es Castell and Sant Lluis, once part of Mahon are now independent towns. The coast here offers a variety of interesting places.
Es Castell, inside the approaches to the port of Mahon, has its own small picturesque harbour, Cales Fonts. Further south we find Alcaufar, an old fishing harbour sheltered in a long narrow cove.
The characteristic Minorcan architecture seems to have served as an example for the more recent buildings which blend respectfully into the environment. At the most South Easterly point of Minorca, facing the Illa de l’Aire is Punta Prima, its beach and holiday village making one of the more conventional and busy holiday spots on the island.
Continuing on the South coast, heading west, the coves surrounding the small fishing village of Torret, whose 17th Century watchtower reminds us of the one at Fornells: stretch from Cala Binibeca -with a pleasant yacht club – to Cala Binissafúller.
After Cap d’en Font and the coves of Biniparratx and Binidali begin the Peñas de Alaior, the less densely populated high cliffs that reach Cala En Porter, a picture book cove with its beach well protected by the towering cliffs and just a short distance from the prehistoric settlement at the lovely Calas Coves.
In one of the cliffs protecting Cala En Porter is the Cova d’en Xoroi, overhanging the sea. It was a prehistoric dwelling, home to a mythical pirate and is now a discotheque and vantage point with a most spectacular view.
The next stretch of coast has excellent, long, sandy beaches followed by a series of coves which are not all easily accessible from inland. Son Bou beach, South of Alaior, is the longest on the island. A little further west is the beautiful beaches of Sant Tomas and Binigaus, to the South of the tiny farming village of Es Migjorn Gran. To get to Cala Escorxada, Cala Fustam or Cala Trebaluger -beaches and cliffs surrounded by pinewoods- you have to cross private farmlands, not always possible, or go by boat. This is a peaceful area far from the busy beaches, even in the height of summer.
Cala Galdana is one of the most attractive tourist centres of the South Coast with a good road running to Ferreries. Nearby are the magnificent coves of Macarella and Turqueta, the former with prehistoric caves.
Both are surrounded by pines and well sheltered by cliffs. Both these bays have been defended against any kind of building whatsoever by public opinion and are now legally protected areas.
After the Punta des Governador and the spacious Arenal de Son Saura, we enter the area of Ciutadella, at the south-western end of Minorca. This is a more densely populated area but has areas, like Son Saura, of great natural beauty, and pretty beaches like Son Xoriguer. Rounding the Cape D’Artrutx we arrive at the Western shore of Minorca. Cala Blanca and Santandria are now tourist centres, although a good many people from Ciutadella still summer here as in the past.
To the North of Ciutadella, after crossing land dedicated to livestock breeding, we reach Punta Nati and lighthouse, the most North Easterly corner of Minorca. The coastline leading to Punta Nati is formed by high cliffs, as in most of the North, there being several caves, Cova des Tabac is a well known one, and promontories like the Cap de Banyos, pleasant coves, Cales Piques, and Cap de Bajoli cove, all on Minorca’s Western coast.
After Punta Nati, we again find ourselves on the North Coast which we left at Cala Pregonda on our circuit of Minorca. Before reaching Pregonda there are still several interesting coves Cala Morell, with its prehistoric cave dwellings and modern holiday accommodation, being one of the most popular tourist centres in the North. Further East, Algaiarens, rather difficult to reach by car, has two beautiful, surprisingly large, beaches. Nestling among the Minorcan Pines, with wetlands inland, the sheltered bay offers perfect examples of the Mediterranean beach.
After Cap Gros, to the East, we find the Sa Falconera area. Rugged cliffs, inhospitable terrain only broken by three small coves, del Pilar, Moragues and d’en Calderer- which brings us to Cala Barril and the Islas Bledas islets. We’re now back in the Cala Pregonda area and can see Cap de Cavalleria a few miles distant sheltering Fornells Bay.
Protected Marine Area
The protected area of the North Coast of Menorca includes the coastal and inland waters between Cape Gros, the Porros Islet and the Morter Point on the Mola headland. There are three levels of protection: Area A which is fully protected, Area B where professional fishing only is authorised, and Area C, designed to reduce the human impact on the area. Sportfishing is also restricted. Since the protected area was created, marine life has increased significantly.