Ditch south Mallorca for the rugged landscapes of the north

Mallorca continues to be a popular holiday destination catering to all sorts of tourists. While the south of the island is home to the infamous party resort of Magaluf, as well as to the crystal blue waters of beaches such as Es Trenc, Cala Mondragó, and Es Caragol, I want to make the case for the mountainous north region, unpolished and home to equally stunning beaches and spectacular hikes.

Breathtakingly beautiful, north Mallorca is the land of car adverts and cycle races, encompassing the most dramatic hairpin bends of Sa Calobra and the Formentor peninsula.

If you fancy a hike but aren’t sure where to go, look no further than my small but mighty list of walks which I have paired with nearby beaches for a refreshing – and no doubt rewarding – swim.

What better way to explore this fertile landscape than on foot?

Just a warning though; the midday heat can be stultifying in summer and especially in August, so
make sure to set off early in the morning or late in the evening and bring plenty of water.

Cala Figuera

On the north side of the Formentor peninsula

This path is a short 20 minutes and brings you to the charming Cala Figuera (not to be confused with the town in the south of Mallorca) which sits between a dramatic vertical stone cliff on one side and a sandstone slope on the other. Tranquil and relatively unspoiled, this beach is great for those looking to get away from the crowds.

Follow signs to Formentor (a winding and narrow road) and then to the Cala Figuera junction where there is a small free car park. If you don’t fancy a walk, Formentor beach is a must-do and a short drive away; the Aleppo pine provides much needed shade and there are pedalos to rent and plenty of beachside restaurants and bars to quench your thirst.

However, it can get very busy, so make sure to go early.

Puig de Maria

Near Pollenca

Approximately 50 minutes up, this shaded walk follows a winding path up to a monastery which has panoramic views of Puerto Pollenca and Pollenca bay. Look around the monastery which includes a beautiful chapel, monastic eating and washing rooms and a small museum. You can also refresh yourself with a drink from the bar and café.

Once down, take a short drive (15 mins) to Playa dels Tamarells beach in Pollenca Bay, or if you only fancy a quick dip head to Llenaire (also 15-minute drive).

The view from atop Torre de Sa Mola (Photo courtesy of Amelia Anderson)

Torre de Sa Mola

Park by the San Lorrenc church which sits at the road fork between the two coves Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent and head to the overgrown-looking path to the church’s left. Hike up through dense undergrowth with the chapel and tower in your sights (the path is marked by cairns – mounds of rough stones used as landmarks – and long grasses tied in knots) to the small chapel and tower at the top of the hill. From there you can see azure views and, if you’re brave, climb up the iron rungs of the tower to enjoy an even more spectacular panorama of the UNESCO world heritage landscape.

For the most part, this hike is very accessible but note that one part has a cable attached to the rock to help you pull yourself up. Afterwards, head down to Cala Tuent, a small stony beach boasting crystal blue waters and great snorkeling opportunities around the rocks. Perhaps also grab a bite to eat at the local restaurant (Restaurante Es Vergeret) or take the ferry round to Port de Soller.

Mirador de Penya des Migdia

Accompanied by hordes of goats there are stunning views from this hike round the headland to see the bay of Pollenca and the Cap Formentor Penninsula. The walk gets very exciting at the end where you have to walk through narrow and steep passages carved through the rock. Park at the Restaurant Ermita de la Victoria and follow the sign “Penya des Migda.” Pair with S’Illot beach (also known as Cala Moreya) on the east coast of the island. It is a charming cove, but parking is limited so make sure to go early.

Torrent des Pareis

Sa Calobra

Photo courtesy of Amelia Anderson

Taking about six hours one way, this is one of the longest and most difficult of the hikes on the island and not one for the faint hearted. I have to confess I only managed a meagre two hours.

Torrent des Pareis is an exciting hike through a deep canyon over polished rocks, awkward boulders and past stagnant pools of water. Partially shaded even in the middle of the day, the walk is surprisingly cool but be careful not to lose your footing as the smooth rocks are like marble and can be extremely slippery due to the water that gushes down the gulley during the rainy season.

It is for this reason that it is important to note here that Torrent des Pareis, as the name suggests, is prone to flash flooding so be sure to only hike during the dry season and check before you start that it is
safe to do so.

To get here, park at Sa Calobra port but don’t be disheartened with the tiny beach straight ahead. Instead, follow the path on the right (it can be very busy) and walk past the touristy cafes until you come to the tunnels carved through the rock. Walk through these and out on the other side is a charming stony beach sandwiched between two huge rocks. The back end of the beach spills out to form the beginning of the trek so no need to get in the car before you cool down, simply wade into the sea.

Long hike

Hike from L’Ermita de Victoria and then over to Cala Retjada. Or drive to Cala Retjada and hike down to the beach through the pines and then over rocks. This hike takes about one hour down to the beach. but it’s well worth the trouble.


Read more about Spain here in Dispatches’ archives.

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Amelia Anderson is London born and raised and has never stopped exploring the city. Having moved to Oxford for her bachelor’s degree in History of Art, she has now moved back to study Gender Studies at University College London.

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