The weather in Spain has begun to warm up a bit! March temperatures in Catalunya are now in the 60s Fahrenheit (15-19C) and although we're still getting sprinkled with rain here and there, buds are flowering on many of the trees I pass by during my daily morning walks. The sun is shining nearly every day and the massive swarm of green parrots that have made Barcelona their special home chirp away ecstatically for hours as if to shout, "We've made it! Winter is over!"
Semana Santa is fast approaching... that special week before Easter each year when schools close, we give prayerful thanks, and many people take off for vacation! Almost every conversation I have with friends right now revolves in some way around Spring Break: where we are going; where they are going; where we all went last year... where we'd love to go in the future!
One great place to head during Semana Santa in Spain is Mallorca!
Mallorca is the largest island of the Balearic Island chain, which has been a self-governing region of Spain since 1983. Along with the other islands in the group including Menorca and Formentera, Mallorca is an incredibly popular tourist spot... and has been so for literally thousands of years! The island has been settled in one way or another since 6000BCE!
Over the millennia Mallorca has been inhabited by Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines and Moors. It even played a major role in the Spanish Civil War, when it was a major seat of Republican power until Franco's Nationalists (assisted by the Italian air force) forced them out completely in the Battle of Mallorca.
These days, Mallorca is known worldwide for its exquisite beaches, warm summers and mild winters. Celebrities and artists continue to flock to this lovely island in search of inspiration, rest and relaxation.
Mallorca is such a popular destination for European tourists that it is sometimes jokingly referred to an extra German state (since there are so many German tourists that visit each year)!
To our family, Mallorca seems to provide Spain with the same kind of paradise-like vacation spot that Hawaii represents for the United States. Mallorca is a truly wonderful place to get away, unwind and enjoy the beach! In fact, there are over 30 fantastic beaches to check out in Mallorca!
In this week's Taste of Travel we'd like to recommend two of our favorite beaches for your Semana Santa or spring vacation!
Cala de Deià
My husband and I first glimpsed Cala de Deià while watching a TV miniseries based on John Le Carré's suspenseful novel... "The Night Manager." In one scene an intense confrontation takes place at an outdoor family luncheon held right above the sea. This scene is particularly scary because it juxtaposes the insanely idyllic backdrop with a brutal armed invasion. As a viewer, you feel taken off guard and vulnerable while watching!
Not long after we watched the miniseries Señor Aventura explained to me that the scary scene had been filmed at a Mallorca beach he'd like to visit someday, the Cala de Deià.
So, on our first family trip to Mallorca we made this beach a family priority!
Thickly wooded pine trees overlook it and you actually have to take quite a hike down a long paved road to reach this secluded spot.
As it turns out there is no sand at Cala de Deià. It's a tiny beach made of shingles, pebbles, rocks and gravel - all of which are surrounded by high cliffs.
There are really two main attractions at this beach. First, the water is extremely clear! Visibility is great and you can see fish swimming around even in the shallow areas. We noticed plenty of people with snorkeling gear at Cala de Deià.
The other attraction is the restaurant to the left of the beach "Ca's Patro March" which hovers above the water on the side of the cliff. With luck you can enjoy a wonderful afternoon there feasting on fresh seafood and traditional Mallorcan dishes, along with wine, gelato and homemade dessert. (Reservations recommended.)
Honestly, this is an exceptionally romantic spot! If you happen to be there without three children, that is...
"Someday we should come back here, just the two of us!" smiled Señor Aventura.
Worth it for the views alone, the food is also quite tasty at the oceanfront restaurant and we found the service to be very friendly and accepting... even though we arrived at sunset with cranky, tired kids who were 'starving!' after their swim in the sea. Two hours later our family left with full tummies and everyone smiling!!!
You won't soon forget your day trip to Cala de Deià and Ca's Patro March! What a magical combination!
Caló des Moro
Visiting Caló des Moro involved quite a trek from the little village of Biniarix where we were staying in Mallorca. In fact this superb beach is located on the exact opposite end of the island - near the town of Santanyí! We learned that it would require a 90 minute drive in each direction for us to visit the beach in our car... which is quite a bit more time than we'd typically spend driving to reach any California beach!
Which underlines with emphasis just how FANTASTIC and special the Caló des Moro is... not only was it worth every second of our 3 hour total drive from Biniarix but we would have made the trip again and again - eagerly! - if we'd had more time in Mallorca.
The Caló des Moro is one of Mallorca's most priceless hidden gems. With crystal clear, turquoise blue waters and a pristine, private location it's worth every bit of the real effort required to reach this stunning cove.
All of the parking near the beach itself is limited to residents only, which undoubtedly helps to control the number of tourists who flock in warmer months to experience this treasure. The locals are pretty serious about "No Parking" and there are a lot of signs posted emphasizing that you will be towed. We've also heard unsubstantiated tales about punctured tires... they're pretty serious about not parking there.
So, we found free parking about a mile away and hiked toward the water.
The trail we took was very uneven - in fact, I'm not sure it was a real trail at all! We later learned that there was a much easier path... which is a good thing because the route we took was on loosely packed dirt up a staggeringly high cliff that took real focus to navigate with three children. I would not recommend it to families with young kids.
"Don't get too close to the edge! Stay on the trail! Watch where you step!" I called anxiously as I followed behind Little Angel, Soccer Dude and The Scientist.
"I'm more worried about you!" smiled my husband with care, thinking about my longstanding back injury.
After a rigorous, sweaty hike we at last reached the edge of the beach and our jaws collectively dropped open in total awe. It was even better than we'd imagined it could be!
Honestly, who needs to go to the Caribbean when you can find a heavenly beach like this just a 26 minute flight from Barcelona? The azure water and pale sand - both pristinely clean - look as though they've popped right out of a tropical fairytale!
It would be so easy to pass an entire perfect day in a place like this... although by the time we arrived in the afternoon there were only a few more hours of light. Little Angel and I waded and splashed along coast while Señor Aventura and our boys swamfurther out in the water to explore hidden caves where they found frogs and baby octopi!
The sandy part of the beach is very small with some large rocks dividing it into sections. During summer months the beach can become so crowded that there is literally nowhere left to sit! For this reason we recommend experiencing the Caló des Moro in the Spring (Semana Santa) or during the Fall (October) to fully enjoy the exquisite beauty of the place without the hassle of big crowds.
We smiled to hear so many different languages being spoken along the beach... German, French, Spanish, English, Dutch and even Portuguese! Everyone together, just chilling out and enjoying the day!
Later during our dusky walk back to the car we discovered that there is another nearby beach (Cala S'Almunia) very nearby... but it is more of a beach for divers and less for swimmers. Much less beautiful!
A word of caution - nude bathing is allowed at both of these beaches and our children got a good giggle out of seeing an elderly couple walking without clothing on the beach.
"Look Mommy! That old lady is naked!" laughed Little Angel before I could shush her.
"Oh my gosh! Look away!" shrieked her brothers who were simultaneously horrified and delighted.
Also, it's a good idea to keep in mind that neither of these wild beaches have facilities (e.g. no bathrooms or restaurants) as they are both well off of the beaten path. We recommend bringing in your lunch along with anything you may need for personal hygiene. Sadly, neither Caló des Moro or Cala S'Almunia is wheelchair accessible.
However if you're okay with these realities and still looking for a great outdoor adventure, we give the Caló des Moro top marks! It's one of the top three most beautiful beaches I've ever visited in person!
Life is short. Get out there and choose your own adventure! :)
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