Less known and very different from the famous Mallorca or Ibiza, Menorca is a relatively unspoilt island, loved for its charm and tranquillity. Called “Blue and White” for it’s sparkling white houses and deep blue sea, Menorca is located about 160 miles south of Barcelona and 30 miles north of Mallorca.
The island measures approximately 35 miles long and 10 miles wide with sun bleached villages and pretty countryside. With its 120 coves and sandy beaches, mostly with safe crystal clear waters, Menorca offers 300 days of sunshine and sheltered sailing all year round. The South East of the island is partly flat with fields surrounded by dry stone walls while in the north are pine covered hills with wild flowers and scrubs.
Menorca has noticeably fewer tourist developments than the other Balearic Islands. Mahon is an exception, because for many years it has been an important naval base, and has absorbed the influences and habits of the various occupying forces. Menorca has its own attractions, and has much to offer for those who prefer to avoid major centres of tourism. For example, Menorca has the greatest concentration of prehistoric remains in the entire Mediterranean, including “the oldest building in Europe”. There are also a number of Neolithic caves and villages, and a lot of megalithic monuments all aver the island.
Puerto of Mahon on the east coast is the major port and can be entered under most conditions. The second port is Puerto de Ciudadela on the west coast, but much smaller and often very crowded. The remaining harbours should not been entered with strong onshore winds, that could be dangerous.
Mahon has the second deepest natural harbor in the world: 5 km long and up to 900 m wide. The water is deep but it remains mostly clear due to it being slightly enclosed. The entry in Mahon provides nice views.
Enter Puerto de Mahon on a northwesterly course between the high peninsula of “La Mola” (with a fort of Isabel II on it) to starboard and the low rocky-cliffed Punta de San Carlos to port. Entry is easy, day or night, but if you’re entering just before sunset, make sure you have sunglasses since the long entry is oriented West. La Fortaleza Isabel II is a huge fortress, surrounded by large stonewalls, built 160 years ago to fight off any French or British invaders. These days the fortress is a museum.
Nearly all yacht berthing in the port is controlled by Ribera del Puerto sl, you can contact them in advance to see available places and prices. The town also provides some berths but locally based boats usually reserve them. Finally there are some moorings for the use of which the town charges a fee.
You can anchor in the Cala Taulera just inside the entrance to the harbour; or in the anchorage close west of Isla des Rey; or in the mouth of Cala Llonga, outside the moorings.
There is a tax to anchor in the lagoon under the Mola at the entrance to Mahon harbour. A police boat comes to collect the money twice a day.
All along the marina, there is a never-ending array of restaurants offering all types of cuisine including the more traditional Menorcan dishes.
The town of Mahon, or Mao is a pleasure to visit for some time ashore. There is a lovely Mediterranean atmosphere in the town with bustling pavement cafes, marvellous fruit and fish markets with a maze of narrow cobble streets. Go up to the Plaza de Espana, where market stalls line the arcades of the former Carmelite friary. The town hall and the church of Santa Maria both stand in the Plaza de la Constitucion. Just near this square, you’ll find The Ateneo Cientifico Literario y Artístico – a museum of natural history, archaeology and art. Mahon also offers a myriad of stylish shops and bars.
Mahon keeps a lot of traces of the long British occupation during the 18th century. Many of the older streets and houses with sash windows have a very English appearance, and various English words have gained a place in the Menorquin language. There is even a gin distillery (The Xoriguer Gin Distillery) located near the harbour; it provides samples and the opportunity to purchase their product.
If you decide to make a round of the island, you’ll see a lot of nice places, small fishing villages and well-maintained holiday resorts. There are also many sites of interest inland, as Monte Toro, near the village Es Mercadal, where you’ll find a restored 17th century monastery and a panoramic view to the island. The roads are rarely busy and the landscape is one of rolling farmland, magnificent cliffs and exquisite sands. Some Megalithic remains are also easy to reach from de two main harbours, as the taula of Tapuco or the talayot of Torellonet, situated only 1 or 2 miles from Mahon.
Menorca is also known for its Fiestas. There are a lot of them all over the year and almost in every village. One of the most famous is the Ciudadella fiesta of Saint Joan on 23rd and 24th of June.A great occasion to discover the other city of Menorca.
Menorca Horses, an indigenous breed with a pure black colour are part of the rich tradition and form the focal point of this very lively event – expect to see jousting, racing and spectators attempting to touch the horses heart for luck as they rear up! Menorca horses dance to the airs of Menorcan “jota” tunes, the most famous being the “Saint Joan” jota.
The fiesta season starts in Ciutadella and ends in Mahon.
Menorca is a perfect start for a cruise in Baleares, coming from France or Italy and will offer you great anchorage and quality time ashore.
Have fun and sensations sailing !
Thanks for reading,
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