Menorca is a little gem of an island. Safe, tranquil and beautiful, it is protected by Unesco and is part of the Biosphere Reserve which looks after migrating birds and all plant and wildlife. Franco forbade development and so it remains largely unspoilt. Crime is virtually unheard of. All this persuaded me to come in 2000 with my family.
I wanted to give my boys the gift of a magical childhood… snorkelling in crystal clear water, sailing or windsurfing across Fornells to their secret island, camping out in caves, and horse riding along the beach are just a few of our wild and wonderful memories. Glorious winter walks to virgin beaches were always exciting. Cala Pregonda, with its circular stone labyrinth. Building camps and picnicing on the beach until the sun went down. All part of a glorious childhood tapestry.
There’s a distinct sense of timelessness you can experience on this island; Menorca has a wealth of megalithic stone monuments from burial Navetas to Taliotic villages. Just walking around these giant stones fills you with a sense of awe and reverence for their age. Sit against them and feel healing energy pour into your spine. Whenever I took my boys to explore, we were aware of the stone’s resonance with each other and their deep connection with the earth. Truly magical!
For such a small island, there’s an infinite variety of wonderful beaches and coves everywhere you go. From our house – La Villa Isla Bella – we are spoilt for choice, with over 20 beaches within easy reach by foot or by car. It’s a short walk to Calas coves, with its high cliffs dotted with caves, including a Roman monastery cave with lines of Roman writing, and where the sea is turquoise and clear – when we visit, the boys love to drink fresh water from a natural stone bowl, formed by an underground water source. Cala Mesquida, just 5 miles away, always reminds me of Cornwall with its curving cove and tiny fishing houses, while Son Bou beach, famous for its long straight stretch of blue sea and white sandy dunes is also nearby.
Other personal favourites include the lovely little cove of Cala Torret, where some friends opened their restaurant, keeping its original name of Pedros and serving exceptional food with a beautiful view overlooking the water – we visit it often! Another favourite place we enjoy going to is Calas Fonts, a horseshoe-shaped cove with a lively night market on the slopes surrounding the bay. Often graced with street musicians, playing all sorts of music, from classical Spanish guitar to jazz or flamenco, it’s got a lovely atmosphere, again full of magic.
This liveliness extends through the whole island during fiesta season – every town has a fiesta in the summer, with rearing horses at the centre of all the excitement. This picture is of my friend’s daughter on horseback at Mahon’s fiesta – as locals, we naturally tend to get involved with the fiestas – it would be rude not to! They also involve live traditional music, fairground rides and a constant supply of local gin, Xoriguer, mixed with lemon… which all make for fond and sometimes slightly foggy memories…
Menorca has been inhabited for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest building in Europe is near Cuitadella, the old capital of Menorca in the West of the island. The town has a traditional Spanish square and tiny back streets. Mahon, or Mao, on the East side of the island, is now the capital. It has an incredible harbour over looking Cala Llonga and Teatro Principal, the oldest theatre in Europe, which has been exquisitely reformed to it original state of opulence and elegance. Just around the corner is one of my favourite places to take visitors – ‘Madamoiselle Plume’, a french art cafe, where I’ve been teaching yoga for the last few years – upstairs, not in the actual cafe!
There’s always more to discover of course on this beautiful island that I’m lucky enough to call home – these are some of just some of my favourite memories – so far…