The secret islands of the Balearics
Small, hidden and offbeat!
Nearly everyone knows about the clubby Ibiza and its more cosmopolitan sibling, Mallorca. Maybe Formentera and Menorca also ring a bell for their beaches with crystal-clear waters.
But there’s so much more to the Balearic Islands than its most popular spots. To truly get away from it all, even just for a day, all you have to do is hop on a boat and sail away to the nearby lesser known islands.
On Ferryhopper, we have created a list with the secret islands of the Balearics that you can explore. Take a look at our suggestions and get ready for an unforgettable experience.
Cabrera is the best kept secret of the Balearic Islands. Located to the south of Mallorca, it is where locals go to unwind during the peak season.
Since the island is part of the Cabrera Archipelago National Park, there is a natural abundance of seabirds, rich marine life and an indigenous flora and fauna. There are also some historic sites on the island, sucha as the Castle of Cabrera, the lighthouse at Cape Punta de Anciola and a naval cemetery.
As in any other coastal area, snorkeling is one of the most popular activities. You can observe fish and marine species that are hard to spot elsewhere in the Balearics. Make sure to visit the 160m long Blue Cave (Cova Blava) in the mid-afternoon, named after the electric blue hue that its water acquires.
The easiest way to access the island is on a boat trip. Most of the ferries depart from Porto Petro and Colonia Sant Jordi, and the crossing takes between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
Lilford's wall lizard, a charming creature found in Cabrera National Park
2. Sa Dragonera
Sa Dragonera (takes its name from its shape, said to look like a dragon) is also part of the Balearic archipelago. It is an uninhabited 6 km long island, situated in the south-west of Mallorca and separated from the island by a small channel. It is easily reachable by ferry from Sant Elm or Port Andratx.
Sa Dragonera Nature Reserve possesses a great biological wealth. It’s home to 361 different plant species, an indigenous population of the wall lizard and a colony of marine birds.
It’s a great excursion for history lovers too. Keep an eye out for the ancient Roman necropolis and the 18th-century defensive watchtowers in the Es Lladó area. Before you leave, make sure to take in the breathtaking views from the Es Pareto mirador viewpoint.
Good to know: you need to obtain special permission from Consell Insular (the island's Council) in order to visit the park.
View of the dragon island of Sa Dragonera from the coast of Mallorca
Located at a stone’s throw from Formentera, the tiny unspoilt island of S’Espalmador is an exquisite hideaway in Spain’s Balearic Islands. It’s privately owned (it was sold for a cool €18m), but people are allowed to visit for day trips.
S'Espalmador has numerous beaches with sparkling blue water and fine white sand. The most beautiful is undoubtedly Playa de S'Alga. The island also houses 2 dwellings, a chapel, a lighthouse, and an ancient watch tower. There are no facilities such as toilets and restaurants, so it’s best to come prepared with food, water and sunscreen.
The simplest way to get to S’Espalmador is via the Barca Bahia ferry that leaves from La Savina, the port in Formentera. Alternatively, you can head to Ses Illetes beach and board the ferry at the dock just up the coast from the Es Minister restaurant. Since it’s just 150 m from Formentera, it can almost be reached by foot at low tide, although it’s not recommended due to strong currents.
Tip: feeling adventurous? Check out our complete guide to diving and water sports to try in Formentera.
Boats and yachts docked on both sides of S'Espalmador island
4. Es Vedrà
The magical and legendary rock of Es Vedrà is located just off the south-west coast of Ibiza. Es Vedrà and its younger sister Es Vedranell have become one of the must-see sights when coming to Ibiza, despite its challenging access.
Almost 400 m high, it is part of the Cala d’Hort nature reserve and is mainly inhabited by wild goats, blue lizards and very rare species of coral gulls. In fact, it is a must-visit destination for bird watchers to observe the endangered bird of prey called Eleonora’s falcon.
Watching the sunset over Es Verda, whether from a boat, the Cala d'Hort beach, its cliffs or the Torre des Savinar defense tower in Ibiza, is a breathtaking-experience.
Fun Fact: there are many myths and legends surrounding Es Vedrà, the most popular of which is that it is the 3rd most magnetic spot on earth. It was even thought to be home to the Sirens of Greek mythology.
Sunset over the magical rock of Es Vedra off the coast of Ibiza
Ready to discover less busy but gorgeous off-the-track islands of the Balearics? Check our complete guide to island hopping in the Balearic Islands and book ferry tickets on Ferryhopper, without any hidden fees!