Cruising Grounds

The Balearic Islands

Island by Island
Diving and Spearfishing
Winds and Weather
Balearics Photogallery

The Moorings base is at Palma on the southwest coast of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands. The cruising grounds include all of the Balearics: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and the smaller islands of Formentera and Cabrera.


Floating between Spain and the North African coast, the Balearic Islands are invaded every summer by a massive multinational force of hedonistic party animals and sun seekers (and a few sailors). This is hardly surprising considering what's on offer: fine beaches, relentless sunshine, good food and wild nightlife.

During ancient times, these strategically located islands were the sailing crossroads of the Mediterranean, conquered in turn by the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, and Aragonese, and finally absorbed into Spain in the early 18th century.  There are cathedrals, castles, fortresses, 12th-century streets, and picturesque ports. The culture is Spanish, and the history is rich.

The latitude is about the same as Wilmington, Delaware. The population is 796,000 (about the same as Delaware) and the land area is 1935 square miles (also about the same as Delaware). Half the population lives in the capitol city of Palma, on the main island of Mallorca (making Palma 5 times larger than Wilmington). Our charter begins and ends in Palma, but we won't stay there long.

The Balearics offer calm but varied sailing along pine-clad rocky coastlines carved with quiet inlets, steep mountains and sparkling beaches. There are cosmopolitan cities (at least one) and quaint fishing villages, all graced with 300 days a year of dazzling sunshine. In recent years, these islands have become Europe's favorite vacation spot, for ordinary tourists as well as the rich and famous. Britain's Prince William and girlfriend Kate Middleton have vacationed in Ibiza, spending a week at la Maison de Bang Bang, a luxury private villa on the party island. During their break, the youngsters visited a number of clubs including the world-famous Pacha. Sounds like our kind of place.

Island by Island

The best known and most visited of the four main islands are Mallorca and Ibiza which are two of Europe’s top holiday spots.

Ibiza is world renowned for its sizzling nightlife whilst Mallorca is all things to all people – princes and poets are drawn to the island along with pop idols and package holidaymakers. Having said that, however, we're not likely to take the boat there, as it is 70 nautical miles from Palma and the logistics just don't work out.

Menorca is popular with those who want sunshine and breathtaking scenery without the crowds and fast pace of top resorts such as Mallorca’s manic Magaluf (where the clubs are open from 10pm until 6am, which gives you some idea). Holidaymakers seeking total tranquility head for the beautiful, unspoiled island of Formentera which is a mecca for nature lovers (and nudists) from all over Europe.

Cabrera, to the south of Mallorca, is an archipelago of 19 small islands. It is a national park, so tourists are allowed only day trips and even an overnight stay in a private boat requires a permit. (We'll see if we can go there.)

Together the islands form one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities. Different versions of the Catalan language predominate on all of the islands though English is widely spoken in the resort areas.

Both Ibiza and Mallorca are ideal destinations for party people as well as families with teenagers or other groups of individuals who may have very different expectations when it comes to a Mediterranean holiday. It’s a common misconception that Ibiza is only for round-the-clock razzlers. It certainly boasts some of the world’s biggest and best nightclubs but they’re largely confined to the two main resorts of Ibiza Town and San Antonio. There are plenty of relaxed resort areas and the northern end of the island is a delight to explore with its lush, green countryside, rugged cliffs and hidden coves.

Similarly, Mallorca offers both action-packed seaside resorts along with wild, mountainous areas, traditional villages untainted by tourism and remote beaches only accessible by boat or on foot. Magaluf, in the south west corner of the island, is the main magnet for British package holidaymakers and has become notorious for attracting the most hardened revelers. Meanwhile neighboring Palma, the cosmopolitan capital of the Balearics, lures millionaires and movie moguls to its sumptuous five-star hotels. Elsewhere on the island, serenity seekers spend their holidays in converted castles, medieval monasteries and rural farmhouses which seem a million miles away from Magaluf.

Menorca’s attractions include more than 100 beaches, a wealth of historic sites to explore, some of the finest seafood restaurants in the archipelago, and a good range of family-oriented sports and leisure facilities.

In contrast, Formentera is as quiet as it gets. There’s not much action on the island but there are some lovely unspoiled beaches and good quality restaurants serving up traditional local fare.

Diving and Spearfishing

Diving is available on all three islands and it is very similar around all of them. The Mediterranean water is moderately warm year round. The visibility is very good, and this combined with an abundance of marine life and interesting underwater scenery such as caves and rocky outcrops make the Balearics an ideal diving destination. The underwater visibility exceeds 100 feet. Marine life include Barracuda, octopus, moray eels, jacks, grouper, wrasse, goatfish, cardinal fish, damsel fish, blennies, gobies, starfish, sea urchins, sponges, soft coral. Diving equipment can be rented from The Moorings (prior reservation).

Spearfishing is allowed in the Balearics (even, strangely enough, in the Cabrera National Park).

Winds and Weather

We have chosen our charter dates to avoid the summer's oppressive crowds and heat. When we'll be there, the average maximum and minimum air temperatures will be 82oF and 68oF. The water will still be warm from the summer sun, at 78oF.


Balearics Photogallery

Below are selected photographs from the Balearics Islands, to give a sense of the ambience.