Photographed by Heide Van Doren Betz

The beautiful coast of the Balearic Islands


A private yacht trip from Spain to the Balearic Islands must have been designed in heaven.  Warm sunshine and soft breezes accompany the magnificent sailing on “Jesus water”, as our captain called the smooth azure sea, from the harbor in Valencia to the seaport in Ibiza.  We glided along on the open sea until the most stunning group of rock formations suddenly appeared in the distance.  As the boulders came closer, what at first seemed like a heap of rocks, became a lush oasis with powder white beaches, olive and almond tree-covered terraces, and cliffs jutting in and out of the sea.


Salinas Beach, Ibiza . A bathing suit top has not been sold in 20 years here.


These Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca, and Formentera off the coast of southeastern Spain, have a diverse historical past dating to prehistoric times. Ancient coins and artifacts discovered in gravesites have dated as far back as 5,000BC.


The terraced old town of Dia seen from the Orient Express Hotel


Conquests and rule over the islands included the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantine Empire and the Moors. In the 13th century, King James I of Aragon set in motion the foundation, which eventually allowed the islands to become part of Spain, even though invasions by pirates and Ottoman generals continued into the 16th century.


Old Town, Majorca where shopping becomes sport


The first island reached from Valencia is Ibiza, a haven for tourists from Northern Europe, who worship the sandy, free spirited beaches, artistic communities, and entertainment at all night discos and restaurants. It is said that at Ibiza’s Salinas Beach a bathing suit top has not been sold in over 20 years. A historic and picturesque ancient fort, about an hour’s climb uphill from the yacht harbor, overlooks the city and the Mediterranean.


Sunset at Palma’s most famous “sunset The main street of Patara. cafe” Cafe del Sol.


Sailing from Ibiza to the largest island, Majorca is a feast for the eyes. The extensive yacht harbors, filled to capacity by yachts flying flags from around the world, provide a welcome for the entry maneuver of the yacht into its reserved space.  The capital of Majorca is Palma, which is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. Palma is a bustling seaport with high end shopping, art galleries, churches and restaurants.  Villages in the mountains are accessible via miles of picturesque narrow, windy roads that date back hundreds of years. Old stone houses built on terraced hillsides lined with century old olive trees, are accessible only by foot and offer exquisite local crafts, especially ceramics and leather.  The historic Cathusian Monastery in Valldemossa is a popular destination.  Frederic Chopin and George Sand spent the winter of 1838 there creating quite a scandal at the time.  Sand then wrote her book A Winter in Majorca.

A fortunate indulgence aboard a luxurious private yacht, great climate, calm open sea, beautiful beaches, historic villages, ancient sites, all enjoyed with good friends is certainly a highlight in any lifestyle.

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