The Menorcan gate is made from the wood of the local olive tree, and is said to last forever. The olive tree itself is a symbol of the people of Menorca. Over the many years its people, much like the olive tree, had to endure to survive. Occupation, war, death; these things have made its people hard, and able to support all this hardship; able to weather the storm.
Menorca is not like other Spanish islands. The tidal flow of hedonistic tourists seeking sun, sand, and DJs don’t even look twice at the Ibiza’s northerly brother. In fact, the lack of high-rise hotels and mass tourism means the island’s true nature is almost a secret to most people. Like the slow cultivation of the olive tree, things here don’t happen fast; and that’s something to be proud of.
Before you think of coming on a visit to this paradise in the Mediterranean however, there are some things you ought to know.
You’ll learn how to slow down
Menorca is a place to disconnect from devices, and reconnect with loved ones. The island is not a place where things happen quickly; the lifestyle is not sedate but tranquil. You take longer to eat a meal; a simple lunch can linger for hours. There’s no need to hurry from place to place. Explore at your leisure, delving into the fascinating history and the culture.
Having lived most of my life in hectic London, I revelled at a chance to turn off my phone and walk out into nature. Slowing down wasn’t easy at first, I blame the slow walkers on Oxford Street for destroying my patience. But, by the end of the trip I understood. We live most of our lives rushing to do something, to get home, to go out, to see something. Menorca taught me that’s its ok to just enjoy being, to enjoy the moment.
It’s a paradise for walkers
The perfect way to experience the bountiful nature of Menorca is to set off on foot. There are numerous walking trails across the island, with the most famous being the 185km Cami de Cavalls that encircles the island. This incredibly varied route is divided into manageable sections and connects up with crumbling watchtowers, fortresses and coastal coves, making it ideal for hikers.
Although we didn’t find time for this classic walk, we did take a stroll through the lush Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau north of Mahon. This nature park is popular with migratory birds from northern Europe, tortoises and even eels; it’s fair to say the whole place feels alive. Wherever you decide the go, the colours, smells and sights are best enjoyed on foot at your own pace.
It has a surprising culinary heritage
Food in Spain is part of the cultural identity, with many dishes boasting a history dating back centuries. So, what you might expect to see on the menu in Menorca? As an island you will, of course, be inundated with fresh seafood dishes, think succulent prawns, breaded white fish and whitebait in a tangy vinegar marinade. Tapas is also widely sold at waterside tavernas, allowing you to gorge on charcuterie and croquetas to your heart’s content.
But none of this is surprising, is it? What is shocking to learn is that Menorca is where mayonnaise was born. The tale goes that during the 1700s the French lay siege to the island, defeating the British at Port Mahon. A local chef was in charge of cooking the commanding duke a victory meal, but realising there was no cream, substituted olive oil; naming his new creation ‘Mahonnaise’. So next time you stop and wonder where mayonnaise comes from, know that you are pronouncing it wrong, and it’s not French, but Menorcan in origin. My top tip for tasting local fare, head to Sa Musclera in the stunning village of Binibeca. Simple, fresh and honest Menorcan food.
It has one of the world’s craziest bars
Ibiza may have a world-renowned party scene, but Menorca has a little Ace of Spades up its sleeve. When the daylight hours start to fade away in this Mediterranean paradise, everyone wants to position themselves with a great view when the sun goes down. There is literally nowhere better on the island to do this than the cave bar Cova d’en Xoroi. This laid-back nightclub is built into the very cliff-face that looks out onto the sparkling waters. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, no doubt.
We were blown away by this bar, taking hundreds of pictures from every angle as the colours changed. The VIP seafront terrace gives you fantastic views, but you can drink this sight in from just about anywhere. The bar is open every day until after sunset.
It’s a photographer’s paradise
There are approximately 130 beaches in Menorca with crystal clear azure waters, and soft sand underfoot. But this isn’t the only landscape you’ll find here. Besides its coastal beauty, the island has wetlands, marshes and ponds where a remarkable array of wildlife can be found. It’s no wonder that Menorca has been a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1993. With all this dramatic natural landscape around, photographers, and bloggers will find plenty to enjoy here. Some of my favourite spots have to be the Cova d’en Xoroi bar, the Illa del Llatzeret (Lazaretto Island) a quarantine island (where people with infectious deceases were held) and absolutely anywhere near THAT water…
Describing Menorca as unspoiled doesn’t do the island justice. If I was to break down Menorca as if it were a cocktail it would be a shot of indulgence, a dash of relaxation – hold the early mornings – instead add a double measure of sunshine and a sprinkling of magic. Make your own plan to discover the Balearic’s secret treasure trove, you owe it to yourself.
Thank you to Visit Spain and Visit Menorca for inviting me to their island, it was awesome. As always though, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.