The Spanish island of Menorca is well positioned in the Mediterranean to offer a relaxed holiday destination for beach lovers, water-sports enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys the sunny side of life.
The glorious climate provides up to eleven hours of sunshine a day and temperatures of around 29 degrees Celsius in the peak summer months. Even in October, temperatures can reach 22 degrees, making the island an ideal holiday spot for breaks later in the year.
Menorca is one the Balearic Islands, which also include Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera and is the second-biggest island in the group (but still only 48 km long and 19 km wide). It is also the most northerly, which helps keep it a few degrees cooler thanks to its sea breezes. The peaceful atmosphere and unspoiled coastline make Menorca a favourite for families.
Despite its small size, the island packs has lots of great attractions if you want to do more than just lie on the beach. Two fantastic water parks are a big draw for kids big and small.
The Los Delfines AquaPark in Cala en Blanes has a feast of water-based fun rides, some with names such as Kamikaze and the Black Hole. Spread across a large site, the park also has a special children’s area. The AquaRock Water Park in Cala n Bosch is smaller but still good, especially if your children are younger. As well as a range of water slides, there are also three swimming pools and trampolines.
If you prefer to stay dry, then choose a glass-bottom boat trip. These gentle cruises close to shore around Mao Harbour, the world’s second-deepest natural harbour, allow you to see plenty of sea life below the waves while taking in some of the island’s interesting sights such as the Fortress of La Mola.
Away from the more obvious holiday-style things to do Menorca also has a rich array of ancient buildings and sites to explore. The Fortress of La Mola dates from between 1850 and 1875 and was built on behalf of the British by the Spanish as a defence against the French when they occupied nearby Algeria. It is considered to be a masterpiece and is well worth visiting.
It’s also a good idea to venture from the beach towns and resorts to visit Ciutadella, a former capital of Menorca. It’s busy, winding and atmospheric streets contain many 17th-century Italian-style buildings. The town is also on the part of the island that’s nearest to its neighbouring island of Majorca and on a clear day (of which there are many), it’s possible to see its mountains and coastline.
The modern-day capital of Menorca is Mahon (known also as Mao). The stunning harbour has many cafes and restaurants where you can relax and watch the yachts and boats go by. The thriving port town is on the east of the island and contains a lot of Georgian architecture dating from the British colonial period, as well as narrow lanes and shady squares.
Menorca’s landscape is unspoilt and has a variety of habitats and landscapes. In 1993, the island was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in recognition of the diversity of its flora and fauna.
Beautiful beaches and dunes on the coast nestle against the island’s canyons, woodlands, caves and wildflower pastures. The S’Albufera d’es Grau Park is in the north east and contains Menorca’s largest wetland. It’s popular with birdwatchers, who come here for the rare breeds that are hard to see elsewhere in Spain.
If you enjoy active holidays, there is a huge range of water-sports facilities dotted around the island. Popular choices include windsurfing, kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing. The more sedate can hire a pedalo.
Menorca’s warm waters also have nearly 50 dive sites and visibility of around 100 feet (30 metres), which means it’s easy to spot the variety of sea life around you. Cave, cavern and wreck dives will challenge the more experienced divers but there are plenty of straightforward options for novice divers too.
The island is very easy to get to, with an international airport near Mahon and plenty of connecting flights to other parts of Spain.
Menorca’s small size makes it manageable in terms of getting around and car hire is a good option if you want to explore independently. There’s an excellent variety of hotel, self-catering and bed-and-breakfast accommodation catering for all budgets and wherever you stay you’ll never be far from a beach.
As you would expect from an island, there’s also great seafood and plenty of traditional food and wines to sample.