Diversions

Why Mallorca Is Europe’s Overlooked Adventure Destination

For many travelers, the idea of escaping to an idyllic island setting is the perfect getaway. It represents the right recipe for rest and relaxation: the warm sun radiating off a white-sand beach tuned to lapping waves that lull weary bodies to sleep, cool drinks in hand. For many adventurers, however, more than a day or two spent horizontal quickly yields to serious cabin fever, even if on a beach. To scratch that restless itch, many will opt for a well-known thrill-seeking destination like New Zealand or the surf-friendly islands of the South Pacific. Or closer still, the Hawaiian islands have always offered an active playground with warm water and world-class hiking, though even some of Hawaii’s most remote reaches have been cataloged and geotagged — begging for a return to the expired ‘three’s a crowd’ mantra.

Europeans are lucky with their close proximity to boundless archipelagos and islands, like Andros in Greece, serving as a heralded hiking destination. Sweden’s coastline shares a similar draw for sailors and kayakers. But just off the coast of Spain, the island of Mallorca is one of the best places to double-dip on plentiful choices for adrenaline junkies and the optional lazy beach day.

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Cycling near Alcudia, Mallorca, Spain Shutterstock – kovop58

Cycling

Though geographically, the Balearic island of Mallorca is a bit higher in latitude than Southern California, it shares a nearly identical Mediterranean climate, where both coastal locations boast over 300 days of sun per year. The clear and typically warm weather, along with endless windy roads, makes Mallorca a mecca for cyclists.

Narrow roads climb from sea level to ragged mountaintops dwarfing the drove of riders of all levels who come here every year. The Cap of Formentor is probably the most well-known route beginning at the northern town of Port de Pollensa and ending at a lighthouse. During the summer months, you’ll have the roads to yourself and won’t have to share them with any motor vehicles; they are banned over the months of July and August. Professional cycling teams also train on Mallorca and frequent the longer hauls like the 68-mile west coast road that climbs a grueling 8,270 feet over the highest point on the island. The route threads together some of the most charming towns, which all cater to the desires of the two-wheel variety. In fact, you can find accommodations and shops all over the island specifically tailored to the needs of the 150,000 riders who visit every year.

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Mallorca5Expansive views of the mountains near Andratx (Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca) Shutterstock / Daniskim

Hiking

The limestone mountains, Roman ruins and medieval villages make Mallorca one of the best islands to explore on foot. In fact, you can even spend a day in towns like Deià, which offer steep climbs from the sea to spectacular views in just about every direction. Along the way, the locals are warm, welcoming and willing to point you to the right trails, tapas or a delicious glass of Spanish wine. As it does with cycling, the island of Mallorca offers trails for every level, and you can’t go wrong whatever waypoint you pick — just remember that the more popular trails are packed with tourists in later summer months.

Avoid that chaos on trails to the ruins of the castle of Alaro, or scramble through deep slot canyons in the Torrent de Pareis Gorge. Hikers can also go the distance and hoof it 104 miles along the GR221 Dry Stone route that stitches together eight stages of ancient pathways and unmarked private property that is best trekked under the watchful eye of a guide.

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Mallorca 3The deep-water solo climbing that’s made Mallorca famous. Shutterstock / Andrii-Vandych

Rock Climbing

Hiking isn’t the only way to get better acquainted with the magic of Mallorca’s terra firma. The island is known as one of Europe’s prime climbing destinations, mainly due to the abundance of natural limestone crags concentrated in relative close proximity to each other.

Right outside of Palma where you’re likely to land, there are over 17 spots to wield a rope and chalk bag with over 660-plus routes. It’s also a magnet for deep-water soloing, a white-knuckle method of climbing that relies on the ocean below to break your fall if your grip slips.

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Mallorca4SUP paddlers and sea kayakers exploring Mallorca’s unique geological formations from the water. Shutterstock / Marina-Kryuchina

Ocean Paddling

Like many European islands, Mallorca is proud of its seafaring roots. Case in point: the tiny village of Valldemossa, that looks like the setting for a swashbuckling scene straight out of a pirate movie. Sea caves are also abundant, adding to the island’s allure with a number of outfitters offering kayak or standup paddleboard ocean tours to explore the unique formations, plus a number of other remote beaches only accessible from watercraft.

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