The Balearic Islands: discover Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza from the deck of a boat

The Balearic Islands: discover Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza from the deck of a boat

The Balearic Islands are the perfect sailing destination. Inviting seas, dreamy beaches, picturesque towns, UNESCO sites and nature reserves are all you need for an amazing yachting vacation.

The Balearic Islands are truly enchanting and have rightfully earned their place on our 7 best destinations for a romantic sailing getaway. Each of the three main islands has their own distinct atmosphere and reputation — Ibiza is the destination of choice for party-goers, Mallorca for history enthusiasts and Menorca for nature lovers. Yet they all have one thing in common — gorgeous sandy beaches nestled in small sheltered bays bathed in crystal-clear water. The sea is even welcoming to novice crews and families with children. Check out our guide which includes 3 sailing routes for all levels.


Mallorca is the largest island of the Balearic Islands and of Spain, and the main place to start your adventure. For centuries, it has enjoyed the favour of Spanish rulers, nobility and townspeople, whose magnificent palaces and townhouses remain. Somewhat atypical of the Mediterranean tradition, these historical centres tend to be located further inland, on the hillsides, so you have to drive from the harbour to reach them. However, even these harbours are often picturesque.

Mallorca is dotted with magnificent churches and monasteries infamous from the promotional photos. Their style, and this is true of the whole of Mallorca and the Balearics, is a little different to what we know from the Mediterranean mainland. Although it does copy the architectural trends of the time from Europe, the Algerian culture also shows its influence (and we don't just mean that you can enjoy relaxing in an Algerian spa).

Aerial view of the historic cathedral in Palma de Mallorca.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe


Menorca is the second largest island in terms of land area and, interestingly, it is roughly equidistant from the Italian, African and Spanish coasts. Compared to Mallorca, it does not offer as many magnificent architectural sights and resorts. This is because it has long been neglected and undeveloped as a tourist destination. However, it compensates for this with a number of small bays with immaculate beaches and plenty of cosy harbours. Menorca is also much greener and will be enjoyed by hikers and wildlife lovers, being home to endemic species you won't find anywhere else in the world.


The island of Ibiza, and especially its eponymous capital, has a reputation as Europe's top party destination and it's not hard to find a great club or bar. In high season, this is the busiest area of the archipelago and one of the liveliest locations in the Mediterranean. What few people know is that Ibiza has the longest history of settlement of any of the islands, dating back to ancient times.


Sightseers shouldn't miss out on a tour of Ibiza's old town, with its preserved Renaissance architecture and remnants of military fortifications. Then there's the archaeological site of the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta and the Carthaginian necropolis of Puig des Molins. All of these sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On the Natural Heritage List, there are the waters between Ibiza and neighbouring Formentera, where there are extensive underwater grasslands of Posidonia oceanica.

Panorama of the island of Ibiza on a beautiful summer day.


Formentera is well-known for its flat terrain, which is perfect if you don't feel like trekking uphill — on foot or by bike. As a result, it offers magical views of a near-endless horizon, whether lush green or including the expanse of the ocean. The island isn't heavily populated, well-developed or popular with tourists, which makes it all the more enjoyable if you're looking for peace and solitude on your sailing holiday.


Cabrera is a green island just off Menorca. Virtually uninhabited, it mainly attracts visitors for its untouched nature and clean sea. Cabrera and the other ten smaller islands are part of the Cabrera Archipelago National Park.

Weather conditions in the Balearic Islands

If you head to the Balearics, you'll be greeted by typical Mediterranean weather with sunny days and humid nights. Temperatures in the summer season don't drop below 20 °C and hit their peak in August when you can enjoy temperatures in excess of 30 °C on land and around 25 °C in the water. The hot summer days are then followed by the rainy season, which is most intense in October and drenches the islands with regular downpours.

Along the coast, count on encountering breezes, which occur in many places and are difficult to predict in advance. The Balearics are quite typical for this with winds often blowing from different directions and at different speeds. This is nothing terrible, but you'll need to be alert at all times. This provides ideal conditions for practising sail handling — you'll be doing more than in other destinations.

Boats in a beautiful bay, Mallorca Island, Spain.

Boats in the bay of Mallorca

In winter, you can be driven from the north coast of Menorca by the Mistral, a strong cold wind blowing in from France. At this time of year, it's best to avoid Menorca, or at least the northern part of it. The Mistral normally reaches 8 on the Beaufort scale and even if it weakens considerably on the way across the sea, it can still be a nuisance. It produces short but not very high waves that are difficult to manoeuvre in. On the other hand, experienced skippers can use it as a turbo boost for sailing southwards and enjoy a thrilling ride.

YACHTING.COM TIP:  Every year, hundreds of sailors head to the marinas of Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Spain in the Mediterranean to enjoy a relaxing sailing holiday or experience the power of the sea with a good dose of adrenaline. The benefit of the Mediterranean is that there are several predictable wind types that blow regularly. Knowing them means you can predict the weather relatively well and adjust your sailing plan accordingly. So what winds can you expect in the Mediterranean?  Check out our guide to the 7 most common winds you'll encounter in the Mediterranean.

Yachting in the Balearic Islands: 3 sailing routes

From reading about the weather, you probably already know that even beginner sailors can handle and enjoy sailing in this area. Each of the three main islands is so interesting and sizeable that you can simply pick any one of them and sail around it.

1. Sailing route around Mallorca

Mallorca is remarkable enough to spend a whole week there. This itinerary is recommended for an inexperienced crew and those who want to intersperse sailing with holiday fun. You'll find the range of boats in Palma extensive, and you'll also be able to try out a catamaran.

  • Day 1: Palma de Mallorca
    Palma is a popular resort where great beaches, bars and restaurants are elegantly interspersed with magnificent churches and museums. Make the most of every moment you spend here and soak up its charm.
  • Day 2: Palma de Mallorca — Cala Figuera
    Cala Figuera is a picturesque harbour in a quiet and well-protected bay where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of Palma. It is also a stone's throw from the Mondragó National Park.
  • Day 3: Cala Figuera — Porto Cristo/Manacor
    Porto Cristo is a popular resort with nice sandy beaches. In its immediate surroundings, you might be interested in the historic town of Manacor and the Cuevas del Drach — a system of four caves with underground lakes. Incidentally, to the north you'll find the similarly splendid Caves of Artà — just drop anchor at Cala Ratjada, which is the easternmost tip of the island.
  • Day 4: Porto Cristo — Alcúdia/Pollença
    Alcúdia and Pollença are charming historic towns on the northern coast. Their medieval architecture, stunning views of the surrounding hillsides and winding streets are truly inviting.
  • Day 5: Alcúdia/Pollença — Valldemossa/Deià/Sóller
    The towns of Valldemossa, Deià and Sóller are crammed closely together in an area that has retained much of its historic architecture. It is no exaggeration to say that these are the most picturesque towns on the island. Valldemossa, perched on a hillside, looks like the imaginings of a romantic painter.
  • Day 6: Valldemossa/Deià/Sóller — Andratx
    Andratx is a modern resort town with a bustling marina, beaches and everything you need to get acclimatised to Palma again after Valldemossa. But it also has its own old town tucked away inland.
  • Day 7: Andratx — Palma de Mallorca
    Return your boat and make your way around everything in Palma that you missed on the first day.

YACHTING.COM TIP: You can also enjoy great sailing around the other islands belonging to Spain. Enjoy relaxing in the infamous resorts of the Canary Islands, trekking in the national parks and more athletic sailing in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. For everything you need to know about sailing in the Canary Islands, take a look at our article — Ocean sailing: set course for the Canary Islands!. We've also included some tips on sailing routes.

2. Sightseeing sailing trip from Mallorca to Ibiza: for experienced crews

The route takes you to four islands — Mallorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Cabrera. It's ideal for more experienced crews who don't mind longer crossings and would like to enjoy more time at sea than on land. Yet you won't be missing out on the renowned attractions of the local harbours and resorts. The itinerary is planned for six days as we recommend taking an extra day to explore Palma. However, it is quite possible you might need to recover from a sleepless night in Ibiza.

  • Day 1: Palma de Mallorca — Port d`'Andratx
  • Day 2: Sant Antoni de Portmany
  • Day 3: Sant Antoni de Portmany — Ibiza
  • Day 4: Ibiza — La Savina
  • Day 5: La Savina — Cabrera
  • Day 6: Cabrera — Palma Mallorca
Mediterranean beach, Cala Gracioneta, Sant Antoni, island of Ibiza, Spain.

Beach in Ibiza

3. Sightseeing voyage from Mallorca to Menorca

¨The route allows you to circumnavigate the two largest islands, plus the islet of Cabrera and it will take you to one of Mallorca's most beautiful beaches — Es Carbó. You can relax in tranquil harbours like Fornells and Porto Colom as well as experience the bustling Palma de Mallorca. Again, this route is suitable for more advanced crews who like to take longer crossings between islands.

  • Day 1: Palma de Mallorca — Es Carbó
  • Day 2: Es Carbó — Porto Colom
  • Day 3: Porto Colom — Ciutadella
  • Day 4: Ciutadella — Fornells
  • Day 5: Fornells — Mahón
  • Day 6: Mahón — Cabrera
  • Day 7: Cabrera — Palma Mallorca
The famous paradise beach of Cala Macarella with turquoise waters and pine forests on the south coast of Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.

Cala Macarella beach on the south coast of Menorca

Anchoring in the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands have an excellent yachting infrastructure and it's easy to find a marina and harbour. These offer moorings and tend to be well protected from the ocean winds thanks to the slightly indented coastline and numerous bays. This is not entirely true of Menorca's northern harbours during the winter months when the Mistral arrives. Expect also a higher occupancy level in the high season. There are, however, plenty of safe anchorages along the coasts of the islands. What we consider a plus is that at most of these anchorages, you'll probably find a stunning sandy beach with a gradual entry into the azure blue water.   

Getting to the Balearic Islands

The islands are a world-famous holiday destination, so it's perhaps not surprising that they host three international airports — Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. They fall within the Schengen area and their currency is the Euro. Fares from the European mainland tend to be reasonable and often discounted. There are regular ferries from the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Valencia and Dénia, but this journey takes around 7 hours. 

In the case of the Balearics, a tempting option is to sail to them from the mainland on your own yacht. But this is only for more experienced crews who are not put off by such long crossings — around 100 NM from Barcelona and 200 NM from Sicily. As for crossings between the islands, expect about half a day's sailing.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Is it possible to sail to foreign waters with a rented yacht? Find out what you need to know and what to be aware of before crossing the border in our article — Can you cross national borders with a charter boat?

Improve your golfing handicap

As you probably already know, we are big on connecting experiences and there are a number of activities that go great with sailing. We've compiled a list of the most popular ones in our article — Top 12 fun activities to do on a sailing holiday, which includes combining sailing with golf. There are 23 golf courses in Mallorca alone, often with the most fabulous sea views, so be sure to include a round or two in your itinerary.

Interested in sailing among the islands? All you have to do now is choose the right boat. Get in contact.

FAQ about sailing the Balearic Islands