Probably the first thing that comes to mind when we hear about the Balearic islands is a setting with a beach, turquoise waters and great nightlife.
The Balearic Islands, or in Catalan: ‘Illes Balears’, are an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
They form one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain, the Balearic Islands. THe capital city is ‘Palma de Mallorca’.
The largest islands in the archipelago are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Cabrera.
The islands are not just about beaches and nightlife.
In fact, UNESCO has included the island of Ibiza and its culture and the cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (located in Majorca) on its list of World Heritage Sites.
If we add in the perfect climate, tranquil waters, incredible nightlife, especially in Ibiza (where party people enjoy performances from the world’s best DJs), Mediterranean local specialties like Mahón cheese, sobrasada sausage, a fish tumbet ratatouille, who wouldn’t want to visit at least once in their lifetime?
Note that locals on the islands are masters in “slow food”.
Preparation for sailing
To visit and discover the islands by a sailing boat is a great way to experience all the good stuff that the Balearic islands are offering.
You can decide between a crewed charter, cabin charter or bareboat charter in case you have a right sailing licence accepted in Balearic.
As in any other area in Spain you need a sailing licence to sail a recreational craft in the case of sailing vessels more than 6 metres in length, and engine-powered boats over 5 metres long and with over 11.26 kilowatts of power.
In addition, it is necessary to have a sailing licence for the handling of any watercraft (except for rented vessels in certain circuits).
For citizens of countries outside the European Union, a certified copy of their captain’s licence may be required, which must be requested at the consulate.
The biggest of Balearic islands.
Palma de Mallorca has one of the busiest airports in Spain, located just eight kilometres from the city and just two hours from the main airports in Europe.
Main sea ports are Palma and Alcúdia.
When it comes to sailing around Majorca, note that there are few currents and the strongest wind that appears is the NW. It is recommendable to sail anti-clockwise in the summer to have the most favourable winds.
The island has a special summer seabreeze, called Embat. The breeze is formed locally so the daily temperature in summer are not really harsh on the coast.
The wind conditions are ideal for beginner sailors to learn the basics of sailing in a relatively safe environment.
Marinas provide very good yacht support in the summer.
Extra tip: Majorca is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants and try not to miss the beautiful courtyards of Palma.
The second largest Balearic island. Mahón is the international airport on Menorca. The main sea ports are Mahón and Ciutadella.
Menorca is lesser known than either Ibiza or Mallorca but it is a perfect place to explore in a active way.
Stunning beaches, soaring cliffs, tiny islands, natural parks, a rich cultural heritage, delicious local products and cuisine are there for you to discover.
The bay of Fornells and the port of Mahón are recommended for sailing beginners, as they are large areas with a constant breeze and being protected from the high seas.
In general Menorca is an ideal sailing area for beginners and less experienced sailing charter crews.
There are no real navigational challenges around Menorca but you should pay attention to the tide.
Marinas provide good infrastructure and support.
Extra Tip: take a day or two to visit the countryside of Menorca. It is so special that UNESCO declared the island a Biosphere Reserve in 1993.
Ciutadella hosts several cultural events such as the Minorca International Jazz Festival or the Summer Music Festival.
Sant Josep airport is located in the south of the island and has direct flights to the mainland and Europe.
Ibiza has three major ports: Ibiza Town, Santa Eulària and Sant Antoni.
One of the smallest Balearic Islands, Ibiza is home to a rich culture.
Many hidden caves around the islands coastline, crystal clear waters, fine, white, sandy beaches, Ibiza’s famous beach bars and rich night life are welcoming you to watch the worlds most amazing and breathtaking sunsets.
Due to its perfect climate the island of Ibiza and its surrounding sea with another 48 smaller islands, are perfect for sailing holidays.
The sea breeze around the coast of Ibiza is normally very reliable and the summer thermal winds provide a steady breeze throughout the day.
The protected bays and calas also offer great conditions for beginners and less experienced sailing charter crews.
Extra tip: the different towns around Ibiza celebrate traditional festivities. Try and see one of them, such as the Mediaeval Festival in Ibiza Town or the Festes de la Terra.
The smallest of the islands. There is no airport on Formentera and the island can only be reached by boat from Ibiza. There are several ferries that connect Ibiza to La Savina in Formentera every day of the week.
The journey time lasts around 25 minutes. If you start your sailing holidays from Ibiza it is best to include Formentera in your itinerary for 2-3 days.
Formentera has some favourable sailing conditions for beginners, and enough challenging areas to satisfy experienced sailors.
A popular spot for sailing is the northern peninsula, Es Trucadors, as it has something for everyone. In the summer the eastern side has waves, whereas the western side has a calm sea.
If you sail to Formentera then you must observe its rules for anchoring that are quite strict.
The different types of anchoring zone have been established:
- free anchoring areas,
- regulated mooring areas with buoys,
- and restricted anchoring areas.
In the restricted anchoring areas the posidonia beds (seagrass) are being protected and it is only permitted to anchor to sandbars.
The designated buoys where you can anchor are available between the 1st of June and 30th of September, and if you are planning to use one then you need to book in advance by contacting the Department for the Environment (Conselleria de Medi Ambient) reservation centre.
Remember: respect marine life and keep the Seas Clean!