After an analysis of thousands of different data points, MONEY magazine has identified the 14 best beaches in the world. It narrowed down a list of more than 250 popular destinations. The beaches of the island of Mallorca, Spain, came out to be among the world's very best, according to MONEY's analysis.
Mallorca: A Holiday Destination
Mallorca, also spelled Mallorca, is the largest of Spain's Balearic Islands, a destination for anyone who loves clear, blue water and golden sand. In 2016, more than 26 million visitors flew into and out of Palma de Mallorca Airport. Other islands in the area are Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, all of them about 200 kilometers off the coast of Valencia.
There are 24 ferry crossings every day from the mainland of the Iberian Peninsula leaving from Barcelona, Valencia, and Dénia in Alicante. This makes Mallorca a magnificent getaway for anyone visiting Spain. Best of all, though, is that Mallorca offers not just beautiful beaches but fabulous cuisine and a long, rich cultural history.
And while this is a highly popular destination, don't let the crowds deter you. According to TIME:
Famed largely for its beach clubs and nightlife, this Spanish island also offers sheltered beach coves and peaceful hill towns. “Even among the tourist swarms of mid-August you can find pockets of silence,” says Tom Stainer, a Lonely Planet destination editor.
Beaches for Rest and Relaxation
Bahía de Alcudia: This is the longest beach in Mallorca and is perfect for families because of the variety of available activities. The nearby town of Alcúdia offers up shopping and great eateries, and is considered by many to be the island's most beautiful village.
Cala Mondragó: This environmentally protected area features a bright green double bay and white sand. Shelter from the waves makes the area safe for children and families, who will also have easy access to beachside snacks.
Formentor: This beach is located near Cap de Formentor at the northern end of the island's Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. The Serra de Tamuntana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Formentor beach is lined with pine trees and features clear blue waters on a quiet peninsula. Stay at the Barceló Hotel Formentor. You can reach this area by boat.
Playa de Palma: Located in the capital of Palma de Mallorca, this beach is ideal for those who'd prefer not to rent a car but are looking for a bright, sloping beach to relax and take a dip.
Beaches for Water Sports and Activities
Cala Estellencs: This beach is ideal for those who like diving and snorkelling. It's a rocky spot flanked by caves, and offers up a great sunset.
Cala Llamp: There's no sand here but there's a wealth of snorkeling. Relax at the seaside bar after a dip.
Cala Mesquida: This is one of the only beaches that's optimal for surfing on the island. It's also ideal for long walks and a relaxing picnic.
Historical and Cultural Sites
The entrance to the Ses Païsses talaiotic settlement on Mallorca island in Spain.
The first settlements on Mallorca date from as early as 6000–4000 BCE. The Talaiotic Culture thrived here during prehistoric times and ruins can still be seen in Puig de sa Morisca, an archaeological park.
Tumuli structures, built for funerary purposes, date from the second millennium BCE while talaiots date from the first millennium BCE. There are at least 274 talaiots on the island, but their purpose is not yet clearly understood. Some argue they were defensive in nature, and perhaps served as lookout points. Various tombs also date from this period.
Perhaps one of the best-known archaeological sites on Mallorca is the Taula, a table-shaped arrangement of stones. Visit the Taula of Talatí de Dalt near the town of Mahón.
The Phoenicians arrived around the eighth century BCE (when they were also active in the area around modern-day Cádiz). Carthage had control over the island for a time before the Romans took hold. Alcúdia, considered the oldest town on the island, was founded during the Roman period. Roman remains are still visible in this charming town in the northern region.
In more recent history, the Polish composer Frederic Chopin loved to visit the island with French writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, known by the pseudonym George Sand. Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío was so inspired by his visit that he wrote several poems and began a novel called El oro de Mallorca. Artist Joan Miró settled in Mallorca in 1954, and you can see a collection of his work at the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Palma. For fans of Agatha Christie, stay at the Hotel Illa d'Or in Puerto Pollensa, a small fishing village in Mallorca's fertile northern region. The site was a favorite of Christie's and inspired her novel, Problems at Pollensa Bay—which, incidentally, makes for fabulous beach reading.
There are at least 2,400 restaurants on the island, including Michelin-starred Marc Fosh. Even a three-course meal here shouldn't cost more than about $40. Here's where to find it: