Menorca (population 90, 240) is the least overrun and most tranquil of the Balearics. In 1993 Unesco declared it a Biosphere Reserve, aiming to preserve environmental areas, such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands and the island’s unique archaeological sites.
The untouched beaches, coves and ravines around its 216km coastline allow the more adventurous the occasional sense of discovery! This must be one of the few places in the Mediterranean where it is possible to have a beautiful beach largely to yourself in summer. Some say the island owes much to Franco for not being overrun with tourist development. While neighbouring Mallorca went over to the Nationalists almost at the outset of the civil war, Menorca resisted. Franco later ‘rewarded’ Mallorca with a construction free-for-all and penalised Menorca by blocking development!
The second-largest and northernmost of the Balearics, Menorca also has a wetter climate and is usually a few degrees cooler than the other islands. Particularly in the low season, the ‘windy island’ is relentlessly buffeted by tramuntana winds from the north.
The capital, Maó (Castilian: Mahón), is at the eastern end of the island. Ferries from the mainland and Palma de Mallorca arrive at Maó’s busy port, and Menorca’s airport is 7km southwest of the city. The main road (ME1) runs along the middle of the island to Ciutadella, Menorca’s second town, with secondary roads leading north and south to the resorts and beaches.
The northern half of Menorca is an undulating area of green rolling hills, with a rugged and rocky coastline. The southern half of the island is flatter and drier, with a smoother coastline and sandy beaches between high cliffs.
Last updated: Dec 9, 2009
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