Boating, Floating and Gloating
Majorca has a mixed reputation. On one hand, the beautiful Balearic island is known for its natural beauty (aqua blue coves, citrus plantations, lush mountains, and spectacular beaches). On the other hand, you’ve got debauchery in Magaluf, the party hotspot in Palma for young Brits that gives it a reputation in itself. The good news, spending a long weekend in Port de Sóller, a small horseshoe bay on the island’s west coast, was the perfect adult holiday for me and my two friends in which we fell in love with the Spanish island of Majorca.
Let’s face it, when you’re planning a surprise trip in the middle of July there are basically only two rules. Sun and beach. The only clues we had leading up to it were that it was an island with sun every day with a high of 37°C (98°F), we’d need aqua socks to protect our feet in the water, we’d need sneakers as there was some sort of hike, a metal water bottle, a good book, and swimmers. Oh, and we were renting a car as the place where we were going was a bit off the beaten path. I can live with all those things. Intrigued, to say the least…
My mind was racing with ideas such as Madeira or Sardinia. No, wait, what about Sicily? So when Penny gave us a crossword puzzle and a big clue, ‘Balearic’ hidden right down the middle, Sophie and I were still miffed. We had no idea where that was or what it meant. When she finally explained it’s an archipelago of islands off of Spain and announced our final destination, I was ecstatic. I’d never been to Majorca, and knowing only as much as the clues I was given was enough to get pumped.
Hiking in Majorca
Majorca is a hiker’s dream, especially during the off-season. Well signed and maintained paths are all over the large island. Even better, our quiet cove of Port de Sóller is a key area for hiking and there are trails leading directly from the town and the port. One of the most famous takes you from Sóller to Fornalutz, voted one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit.
We did, however, brave the heat for a 4-hour hike from Port de Sóller to Cala Deia, a beautiful secluded beach featured in the BBC series The Night Manager. The plan was to go halfway to Son Mico, a lovely Finca set up in the hills of the Serra de Tramuntana, which serve homemade quiche and orange cake, refill our water bottles and decide whether we had the energy to keep going. But when we got there it was disappointedly closed for the holidays, our water bottles were nearly empty and there was no point in turning back, it was so hot we needed the sea, asap! 2 more hours to go…
Throughout the hike we were mesmerized by the sounds, we were alone and it was quiet other than the crickets chirping away. We covered various terrain, from very dry red dirt, shiny silver rocks, orange mud. We went from windy paths deep in the mountain to open roads; crossed areas where goat and wild horses roamed, welcomed the shade under olive groves and counted the boats out at sea as the coast came back into view.
The heat was overwhelming, and we were warned that lots of injuries happen on the trails when hikers are not well hydrated. We were sweating profusely, shocked by how swollen our fingers were. Luckily we had pre-made sandwiches which we cheekily put together from the morning’s breakfast bar at the hotel, they were vital in keeping our energy going. It’s recommended to hike first thing in the morning, not midday like us when it was 32°C (90°F).
When we finally made it to Cala Deia after four hours of hiking in extreme heat, no water and thoughts about our survival, it was such a welcome relief. Staring down at the little alcove with turquoise water, two restaurants where you can buy beer and food, and families splashing about, we were in heaven. It was beautiful, and we were also quite smug we had our aqua socks with us to clamber over the rocks with ease. Beer in hand, bum in the water, I was proud of our accomplishments and relieved to finally be able to relax and enjoy the beautiful Balearic Sea.
Getting back was an adventure in itself, as we certainly were not walking. The road out of Cala Deia to the bus stop is quite long, and steep, and winding. As a joke, Penny stuck her thumb out, and before we knew it we were thankful to be in the back of an old French/Brazillian couple’s green Mini, they were shocked that we had walked there to begin with. “In Majorca, you need a car,” they lectured. We had a car we told them, we just chose not to use it! We were so grateful, we were exhausted and it would have taken us forever to get up there. Luckily when the bus finally came it was air-conditioned. Everyone shut their eyes and had a nice little nap during the 30 minutes back to the port.
Things to do in Port de Sóller
Port de Sóller is a destination in itself. There’s plenty to do, here are a few ideas.
Go for a Hike – see above
Hire a boat – we recommend Mezzo Magic, it cost 75 Euro cash (91 Euros if paying by card) for 3 hours at sea including snacks and drinks. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours in the beautiful Balearic Sea. The boat company is lush and top quality. During our time at sea we visited the blue lagoon, snorkelled, and paddle boarded. The girls went into a sea cave and Sophie jumped from the top of the rocks. We snagged the bean bags at the front of the boat and thoroughly enjoyed the sun, sea and drinks.
Beach – The port offers the only sandy beaches on the west coast of the island, there are two beaches, one at the end of each bay. Loungers and umbrella rentals are affordable if you’re making a day out of it. The sea is very calm and there is an area with a lifeguard in Platja d’en Repic beach which is most popular with families.
Paddleboard – Sóller SUP is about halfway around the bay and rents paddleboards (15 Euro for the hour) as well as provides lessons.
Sóller town – is beautiful. The streets are made of natural white stone; houses have massive big brown doors with ornate knobs, such as a lion’s head. The tall buildings have the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in the backdrop and the narrow alleyways are an easy way to get lost exploring its charm. Visit the botanical gardens, galleries, or simply come for lunch or dinner, there is plenty to do.
Sóller Market – On Saturdays, this traditional market is frequented by both locals and tourists. It takes up the main square and surrounding areas and is quite big, with local crafts, clothes, jewellery and food available. Open from 8:00 to 14:00, Penny and I walked away with some beautiful yet affordable hand-painted ceramics.
Where to eat in Port de Sóller
We’ve had recommendations from friends that include Sabarca, Kingfisher and Randemar, but here are the ones in Port de Sóller that we tried.
Patiki Beach – hands down our favourite. Fresh food, friendly service and beachfront, you couldn’t ask for more. We sat on the blue and red checkered tables and devoured creamy burrata, fresh tomato salad, locally caught sardines, butter beans, and local bread with tomato puree on top. For the quality, it was super affordable, and the atmosphere was perfect after dinner to just enjoy the sound of the ocean and to have a post-dinner drink playing cards. Goblets of gin in Spain, this is what I had been practising for all year.
El Sabor – is a lovely tapas restaurant just across from a tram stop. They do an excellent Aperol Spritz, a good variety of tapas with great views of the ocean – plus service was friendly and attentive. This was perfect for a midday snack.
Restaurant Las Olas – Although it didn’t come recommended from friends, we greatly enjoyed Las Olas, centrally located on the main promenade. The sea bass, lamb and vegetable paella were all very good quality, not to mention the atmosphere of seafront views.
Villa Louisa – is absolutely beautiful with stunning stonework, fresh flowers and a lovely setting but slightly overrated for the price. They had a fantastic French rose and a great selection of fresh fish (monkfish was divine), as was the seafood pasta. Unfortunately, it’s not very vegetarian-friendly.
Where we stayed
Our hotel, Citric Hotels, was great value for money and well situated close to the beach. In fact, I can’t really complain about our stay at all. What I especially liked was waking up to views over the port and the sun shimmering on the water.
We had a basic budget room for the 3 of us, two single beds and a pull out which they had pre-made. We upgraded in advance to ensure we had a balcony and air conditioning, both definitely worth it. Their breakfast buffet was standard Spanish continental, but that didn’t stop us from making sandwiches each morning from the cheese and meat platters to bring to the beach. More importantly, their bar was cheap and open late, and overall the service was fantastic – with recommendations each morning on how to get around. When our car was towed, they were there to help, and when asked for a late check out so we could shower after a full day at the beach, they only charged a reasonable 20 Euro.
Getting around Port de Sóller
Tram – The scenic tram, Tren de Sóller, the island’s first electric tram which takes you from Port de Sóller to Sóller town is a must-do. A steep 7 Euro, the slow yet picturesque journey is a relaxing way to get between the two towns and is quite useful if you are staying outside of these central areas.
Bus – There are regular bus routes to get between the west coast towns and to the capital Palma. Most hotels can provide a timetable. The bus stop in Port de Sóller is a short walk from the port.
Car – They say the best way to see the island is to hire a car. So that’s exactly what we did. Only to check out of our hotel on our final day and find our car missing. Confused, we quickly realized we had parked it on a hill in a no parking zone. An orange triangle-shaped sticker was found on the ground which indicated it had been towed. Luckily our hotel was very nice and called us a taxi to take us to the police station in Sóller. We paid the fine of 207 Euro (exact change only), walked 10 minutes to the salvage yard only to find the car wasn’t there. Let’s not fret, we only need to fly out in a few hours….
The police met us at the salvage yard and realized that it must be in a different location. Don’t panic. They could only accommodate one passenger so Sophie bravely jumped into the back of the police car (yes!) whilst Penny and I sat waiting in the scorching heat, at least we were left in pleasant surroundings with views of mountains and lemon groves. Sophie returned 20 minutes later with our car, followed by the police who kindly give us an escort out of the tiny narrow and winding streets to the highway. We got to the airport relieved only to find out our flight was annoyingly delayed.
Until next time, Majorca
What I loved about this Port de Sóller was that it was a true blend of mountain and sea. At night we commented on the revelation of seeing the stars, something that’s not too common in London. It was serene, peaceful and delicious. I spent 9 hours in the sun one day relaxing by the sea and I was in my happy place, no work, the sound of the ocean, and just…the clear blue ocean! There are definitely other beautiful, Instagram famous spots on Majorca but the small bit of paradise that we touched was just perfect. I definitely want to come back, both to Port de Sóller and to explore other parts of what Majorca has to offer.