Wild jasmine and orange blossom scent the air and lemon trees are laden with fruit. And, there’s plenty to do, from long walks along coastal tracks and deserted beaches, to more energetic activities such as horse riding, cycling and kayaking or simply taking time to relax and indulge in a leisurely meal and a drink with views over the sparkling Mediterranean sea.
As the island comes to life after the winter months and the resorts start to open, it’s important to note that some local supermarkets and restaurants may remain closed until early May, so it may be advisable to hire a car. However, with Easter being so late this year, many places that usually open for the holiday period will probably stay open while others may open early for the 2011 season.
Getting to Menorca is no problem in spring. In addition to the weekly Monarch flight out of Luton, direct flights out of Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham start at the beginning of April. Alternatively, it’s easy and not too expensive to travel via Barcelona from main UK airports or even to Mallorca where you can pick up a short flight from Palma airport or travel from Alcudia to Ciutadella on the fast ferry.
Here are some great springtime activities:
Walking and Cycling
Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993, over 40% of Menorca is protected by law. This includes 17 areas of special interest and a nature reserve and ensures their natural beauty is preserved for all to enjoy.
Walking: This is one of the best ways to explore the island’s huge diversity of terrain. Suitable for all levels of ability, designated walks take you through some beautiful scenery. Inland walks allow you to discover the amazing prehistoric monuments scattered all over the island or wander along narrow unpaved lanes between the impressive dry stone walls that make up the characteristic landscape, while coastal paths lead you to some of the loveliest undeveloped beaches on the island. In complete contrast, for the more energetic, you can follow trails that require you to climb through deep ravines and valleys, one of which follows part of the old ‘Camí Reial’, the Royal Way, which runs between Ferreries and Ciutadella.
There are now some excellent walking guides and maps available as well as specialist walking holidays, and the routes and paths are now well signposted. Of particular note is the historic Cami de Cavals, an ancient path that circumnavigates the idyllic coastline and the Natural Park of S’Albufera des Grau which has three walks that wind through this stunning area of wetlands.
Cycling: You can also cycle your way around Menorca. This is a fantastic way to enjoy the Mediterranean landscape and discover hidden areas of beauty as you meander through patchworks of fields separated by typical dry stone walls lined with wild flowers.
With its extensive network of cycling routes away from main roads, cyclists have a great choice of rides to challenge and satisfy all levels of experience, some gentle and others much more extreme, offering more than 3,000 kilometres of paths, tracks and roads that are feasible by mountain bike. Well signposted cycle routes have been created along quiet, single track roads which cover a large proportion of the island and include some of the oldest trails, while the larger towns of Maó and Ciutadella now have well organised cycle paths that enable cyclists to visit parts of the older town centres inaccessible by car.
Cycles of all kinds, from the ordinary touring bike to top class road racers and mountain bikes can be hired from activity shops in the resorts around the island or from specialist sports shops in the main towns. A tip is to bring you own helmet for comfort which will also save additional hire charges.
Horses are often referred to as one of the pillars of Menorcan culture. Throughout history, the horse has played a major part in Menorca’s defense systems, as shown by the Cami de Cavalls ancient bridle path which runs around the edge of the island, as well as work hard in the fields and take part at the traditional local fiestas.
The island boasts nine official riding clubs where many equestrian activities can be enjoyed, from experiencing the Menorcan countryside from a new angle on horseback to watching show jumping competitions and trotting races through to marveling at the discipline and spectacular displays of classic and Menorcan dressage.
Menorca’s mostly flat terrain makes it ideal for horse riding whatever your level of experience, from complete novices to experienced riders. Lessons are available from stables such as Menorca a Cavall and the Can Pouny Equestrian Club as is the opportunity to go pony trekking through beautiful woodlands and hidden rural countryside. Horse riding is very popular in spring and summer, so advanced booking is essential.
With over 216km of coastline and over120 beaches, the sea is a constant factor and an important part of daily life in Menorca. Its numerous coves and natural harbours make it ideal for enjoying of all kinds of water sports from the experienced enthusiast to the absolute beginner. With plenty of sea breezes, spring in Menorca is an ideal time to practice your sailing and windsurfing skills and perhaps take a course before the heat and rush of the summer months.
The island is also very well suited to sea kayaking and canoeing which can be enjoyed all year round with warm seas, and plenty of sheltered coves to pull in and take a rest. Many of the virgin beaches can only be accessed from the sea, so kayaking is a great way to discover them. There are centres specialising in kayaking and canoeing courses and equipment hire in most of the main resorts. Two and three day or even round island trips taking up to ten days can also be organised. Due to its excellent waterside position and wide sheltered bay, there are centres in Fornells as well as Es Grau which offer canoes and kayaks for hire as well as guided tours and courses.
For diving enthusiasts, Menorca is popular for its fantastic underwater caves and sheltered clear waters, normally reaching a visibility of 50 meters. It’s a great place to take an spring break and get your diving qualifications or improve your skills at the same time. S’Algar Diving offers a full range of PADI diving courses (Association of Professional Diving Instructors), from the Discover Scuba Diving, which doesn’t require any experience, to more specialised courses including Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver, Emergency and Rescue Diver as well as the Professional Dive Master course.