Charter the Balearics on board ASTRA
There are four primary islands in the Balearics Islands chain – the Gymnesian Islands (Mallorca and Menorca) and the Pitusan Islands (Ibiza and Formentera). The archipelago runs roughly parallel to the east coast of Spain and enjoys a superb yacht charter climate with more than 300 days of sun each year. The thriving tourist industry often sees Mallorca and Ibiza dismissed as nothing but pretty beaches, raucous nightlife and youthful excess, but with poise and rusticity in equal measure, there is much more to their shores than that. Head for Menorca in the east or the compact isle of Formentera in the far west and the serenity quotient reaches a new level, with secluded coves, ancient monuments, protected marine parks and an altogether slower, more gentle form of yacht charter experience.
Mahon clings to a ridge above a saltwater inlet at the apex of a natural port that is not just the largest in the Balearics but one of the largest in the whole of Europe. It remains, however, a very charming, small-scale and intimate city, with indisputably elegant Georgian-style architecture and a relaxed alfresco food culture that quickly salves the mind. Though it enjoys a pleasant seasonal buzz, it’s rarely overcrowded outside of the riotous Nuestra Señora de Gràcia Festival in September.
With its commercial fishing fleet and its yacht charter luxury, its ancient charm and its modern energy, the west coast town of Ciutadella is every bit the equal of Menorca’s capital city. The port is lined with colourful waterfront restaurants and the romantic town square of Placa d’es Born is a fine base for exploration. The beaches of Sa Caleta and Cala Santandria will satisfy those in need of a sunbathing fix and Placa dels Pins is a top spot for street food.
Alcudia is northern Mallorca’s biggest holiday resort and it’s easy to see why. While much of this region features thin, shingly stretches of beach, butted up against immovable rock, Alcudia offers plenty of white, sandy bays with easy gradients and warm shallow waters. Up in the old town, heaped up within the vast peripheral ramparts, a mix of boutique shops, lively markets and quality restaurants adds some mature continental chic to the region’s family-friendly offering.
Like most Balearic ports, Puerto de Sóller is home to a harbour that divides its attentions equally between the fishing fleet and the recreational yachts. Having been the recipient of vast investment over the past decade, the port also happens to be one of the island’s most lavish charter hubs. The generous arc of the bay creates a nicely sheltered playground for a picturesque anchorage and the half-mile beach is tailor-made for watersports.
If nearby Magaluf is a hotbed of hedonism, Palma de Mallorca is at the heart of elegant alfresco entertainment and suave cosmopolitanism. Here in the Balearics’ capital, the glittering marina is full of outrageously high-end yachts and the local cruising grounds are all set against the backdrop of Palma’s huge gothic cathedral. Home to more than half of Mallorca’s population, Palma is a thriving year-round bastion of artistic and cultural vivacity, with buzzing bars and cafes, lovely walks, beautiful beaches and complex networks of backstreets to explore.
Formentera is a rocky little island around seven miles south of Ibiza. The absence of an airport here has hindered its development as a tourist hub, leading to a burgeoning reputation as a wildlife watching destination and making it a fine stopover for the charter yacht Skipper. The two main sections of the island are joined in the middle by the Migjorn, a three-mile expanse of unspoiled sandy beaches and the island’s exposed position makes it a great spot for windsurfing and sailing.
Ibiza Town might be famous for Café del Mar, Pacha and the Sunset Strip, but this 24-hour party destination is now as much about the superyacht charter crowd as the all-night clubbers. Down at the marina, Lio and Heart combine a club vibe with upmarket food, artisan shopping and dramatic stage performances – and with 2,700 years of history encompassing both Roman and Moorish influences, the crass neon glitz is well matched by high-end sophistication and cultural authenticity.