Menorca’s beautiful unspoiled beaches surrounded by clean crystal clear waters are one of the island’s main attractions, providing an ideal destination for sun worshippers and watersports enthusiasts of all ages. From its coastline of only 216 kilometres, Menorca claims more beaches than Ibiza and Majorca put together – some say there is a beach for every day of the year while other reports state 120, although not all are accessible. However, with around 70 coves and beaches that can be reached (some only by sea) you can be assured there is something for everyone – and what’s more, you will never be more than 8km away from the nearest one!
Each beach has its own personality, with a huge diversity of landscapes and distinctive characteristics between the northern beaches and those along the south coast. On the north coast which has the highest cliffs, the beaches tend to be smaller with red sand and backed by woodland, while on the south coast which is sheltered from the northerly prevailing wind called the Tramuntana, the beaches have fine white sand and some of the longest stretches of sand on the island.
Although many beaches offer all the facilities you’d expect from an established resort, including bars, shops and watersports, there are still many that are completely undeveloped. Being more difficult to access, they provide an idyllic setting in pretty rocky coves backed by woodlands or high cliffs and mean that even in high summer there are always secluded places to relax in the sun and enjoy a picnic.
See our Beach Guide for detailed information on the most popular beaches.
Blessed with outstanding environmental diversity, Menorca became a protected UNESCO biosphere zone in 1993, with the aim of conserving its natural beauty whilst supporting sustainable tourism. Spectacular features include gullies, land and underwater caves, lagoons and dune systems, plus an abundance of flora and fauna and many wildlife species that are unique to the island. Menorca’s protected status means building is restricted and commercial properties and domestic dwellings are limited to no more than two floors.
There are two main towns that feature prominently in Menorca’s history. Mahon or Mao to the locals is the capital of Menorca and home to the second deepest natural harbor in the world, the largest being pearl harbor in Hawaii! The second town, Ciutadella, was in fact Menorca’s original capital and is located on the southern tip of the island.
Mahon is a beautiful historic town perched above a large and very busy port, enabling even the largest cruise ships to dock right by the harbour side. The town has a wonderful cosmopolitan atmosphere with its pavement cafes and bars located in a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, main pedestrian area lined with stylish shops and attractive architecture reminiscent of its Georgian past, where sash windows, and elaborate balconies feature prominently in the 18th century townhouses.
The strategic naval positioning of the harbour has meant Mahon has had more than its fair share of foreign occupiers throughout its turbulent history. However, it is the French and in particular the British, who established Mahon as the capital in 1722, that have probably had the most impact on the town during their occupation in the 18th century. Such buildings of interest include the Town Hall, built in 1631 and then restored around 1789 and still displaying the clock given to the Menorcan’s by the English Governor, Richard Kane, The Placa de s’Esplanada with its original British barracks, the Church of Santa Maria rebuilt between 1748 and 1772 and home to an impressive organ with over 3000 pipes and, overlooking the harbour, the town’s market which was originally a convent built in 1751 and has since been beautifully restored.? The harbour is also steeped in history and has some fascinating attractions such as Fort Marlborough and Fort La Mola (where Hornblower was filmed), both of which are well worth a visit for history lovers young and old.
Ciutadella is completely different in style and layout and remains an important cultural and religious centre. With its charming old quarter, pretty squares with hidden shops and restaurants and wonderful cathedral right in the centre, not to mention its distinctive architecture, with influences of its Roman, Moor and Aragonese occupation still in evidence, Ciutadella has a lot to offer. The main square, the Plaça d’es Born, is a former Moor parade ground surrounded by impressive buildings and is one of the most attractive squares in Spain. In the centre stands an obelisk in memory of the Turkish invasion of 1558. A small picturesque harbour lies beneath the town lined with bars and restaurants and is from where ferries to neighboring islands operate. A main road links the two towns.