Spain’s Balearic Islands have long been beautiful to visit, but historically, only smaller, older yachts have been available for luxury yacht charter vacations. Thankfully, recent changes in local regulations are encouraging the owners of larger, newer yachts to visit the Balearics each summer, giving charter clients more choices than ever for cruising in this Mediterranean paradise.
"Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Balearics are only about party-seeking teenagers packing out raves on concrete-surrounded beaches"
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Balearics are only about party-seeking teenagers packing out raves on concrete-surrounded beaches,” explains YPI Charter Broker Anna Franciszkiewicz. “That’s a very small corner of what is a largely unexplored and stunningly beautiful part of the world, with some of the most exclusive moorings, spectacular seascapes, restaurants and nightlife for a very exclusive clientele.
“Any itinerary in this area should include the Amante Beach Club on the east coast of Ibiza, and a visit to the sublime Ibiza old town (a Unesco World Heritage site),” continues Anna. “Not to mention the stunning sunsets on the west side of the island, a stop-off around the uninhabited lee of Espalmador (with some amazing diving), before heading on to the beautiful island of Formentera for the most spectacular beaches, crystal-clear waters and great cycling.”
Formentera is south of Ibiza, easily reachable during a one-weekyacht charter that begins in Palma de Mallorca. The island is just 19 kilometres long and home to fewer than 10,000 people, which is one reason its white-sand beaches have remained so welcoming over the years. Nude sunbathing is allowed in many spots, but you can expect to see far more families than partygoers. Several villages offer terrific waterfront dining if you want to spend a few hours off the yacht touring on foot before indulging in a seafood paella.
Another lesser-known option is Valldemossa, a walled town with narrow streets, surrounded by forested hills and lush countryside on the main island of Mallorca. It’s just far enough away from the bustle to remain off most tourists’ maps. The composer Frédéric Chopin and the writer George Sand found Valldemossa welcoming; a natural tonic to soothe away the rough edges.
Luxury travel expert Tracy Grix at Kuoni, who knows the Balearic Islands very well, says: “One of the lesser known highlights of Mallorca is the beautiful Puerto de Sóller village, which combines old-world charm with modern cafes and restaurants and a stunning marina to sail into. Up on the hillside is the restaurant Ca’s Xorc, which is held in great esteem by locals. It is a bit difficult to get to, being a mile uphill off the main road, but the views over Sóller and the amazing food, including a six-course tasting menu, make the journey well worth your while.”
BEST TIME TO VISIT May-October
PEDALLING PARADISE If your charter yacht does not carry bicycles, you can rent them (or mopeds) on Formentera, which has a good number of cycling tracks that are closed to other types of traffic and run along white sandy beaches and past ancient towers.
SHOP CREATIVELY Forget about the chic boutiques on Formentera. Instead, seek out handmade jewellery at souvenir stalls in Sant Francesc, the capital, or visit the artisans’ market at El Pilar de la Mola on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons for unique keepsakes.
WALK IN CHOPIN’S FOOTSTEPS Visit Valldemossa Charterhouse, originally a royal residence, then a monastery, and today a museum where you can see the rooms where Chopin stayed during the 1830s