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Balearic Islands - Off the beaten track


Octopus eyes in the Mediterranean off Menorca

Formentera

Formentera is the getaway-from-the-getaway. Folks needing to dry out and have a little down-time away from Ibiza and its disco balls and hectic socialising can head to the tiny island of Formentera. If you aren't too hung over or too wrung out it's a great place for short bicycle treks and long picnic lunches.

The emphasis here is definitely on 'beach'; the sea is visible from just about everywhere on the island and the edges of the island are fringed with numerous great beaches and any number of secluded bays, some of them with invisible grottos. Among the evocatively-named beaches worth vsiting are Cala Saona, Coves d'en Xeroni, Es Caló and Es Pujols.

If a good coffee is the only thing on your agenda, get to the main village of San Francesc Xavier, an attractive white-washed village with some good cafes overlooking a series of small sunny plazas.

A ferry from Ibiza is the only way to get there.

Illa de Cabrera

In the middle of the tourist mayhem that hits the islands every summer, Cabrera is a haven of isolation. The entire island was made a nature preserve in 1991 and access is controlled by the Spanish National Institute for the Conservation of Nature. But if you can finagle a permit to visit the island make the most of the opportunity.

This uninhabited island sits around 20km (12mi) off the south coast of Mallorca. Along with the surrounding islets it's part of the Parc Nacional Archipiélago de Cabrera, and you can only get to it by joining a tour or getting special permission. An island with a strong military history, certain parts of it are off limits due to unexploded armaments. As far as sights go, the castle overlooking the harbour is about it; the real appeal of the island lies in its stunning wildlife and vegetation. If you're lucky, you may see a blue-underbellied Liffords wall lizard, or dolphins indulging in off-shore frolicks. Birds such as shags, herring gulls and peregrine falcons can be spotted flying around the cliffs - be sure to take your binoculars.

Once-a-week boat trips to the island run from Colònia de Sant Jordi harbour. You can get a bus from Palma, Cala d'Or or Cala Figuera to Colònia de Sant Jordi.

La Savina

The island of La Savina, just to the north of Ibiza, is definitely a get-away-from-it-all destination. Favoured by passenger ships, fishing boats and luxury yachts because of its main port, the town is a small and rather sleepy affair which nevertheless runs to a few restaurants, shops and holiday accommodation.



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