In this part Emily Bamber looks at active holidays in Majorca. Read Chris Coplans on relaxing holidays in part two.
Majorca may be best known for its beaches, but if you’re paying attention as you fly in to Palma Airport you can’t miss the Tramuntana Mountains, which fringe the north and west of the island with peaks reaching 1,455 metres.
Among them hides a Majorca little seen by the hordes of sunseekers – one of monasteries and sandstone villages, windmills and donkey-drawn carts.
The roads through the Tramuntana are narrow and windy, but not a patch on the goat tracks and smugglers’ paths which make up the Cami de Son Castello, running along the island’s north coast from Deia to Puerto Soller.
These mountain paths attract active holidaymakers – hikers, rock-climbers, abseilers – in spring and autumn, and in April and May you even pass cyclists preparing for the Tour de France.
Fortunately there is plenty of Rural Majorca to go around. There are literally hundreds of paths dissecting the Tramuntana, and we pass few other walkers when I explore it on a four-hour, 11km group hike with guests from the Es Moli hotel in Deia.
The paths lead through shady fragrant forests, into silent valleys, past crumbling stone farmhouses with tethered goats and barking dogs, and up towards the monasteries that crown each mountain peak.
Below us, the Mediterranean Sea twinkles in the warm sunlight, framed by the steep cliffs of the island and the clear blue horizon.
All the way I am reminded of the region’s other great forte: food. We wind past fig orchards, olive groves and whole banks of wild herbs that bring back welcome memories of last night’s herb-crusted lamb.
We eventually approach Puerto Soller through a valley of citrus orchards, and press on to a headland monastery where lunch is served – a warming stew with hard Majorcan bread and soft red wine.
After sipping coffee outside in the sunshine and admiring the sea far below, it’s onto a private coach for the 20-minute drive back to Deia. My cheeks are glowing, my legs aching happily, and I’m ready to put in some hard time by the pool in preparation for the next excellent meal.
Other ways to get active in Majorca
Diving: El Toro island off the southwest coast is a marine reserve rich with sea life. In spring expect to see octopus, cardinal fish, bream, shrimp and rockfish in a five-metre cave. British-run MAD Divers offers single tank dives with equipment hire from €65 per person.
Cycling: Majorca is perfect cycling country: smooth mountain roads plus plenty of country tracks. It suits a variety of fitness levels too – there are plenty of low-level rides accessible from western resorts such as Puerto Pollensa, and the Tramuntana range offers high peaks for the super fit.
For rental bikes try Pro Cycle Hire in Puerto Pollensa; keen cyclists can take their own steed for free with British Airways – the airline permits one piece of sports luggage per passenger. For dedicated cycling holidays, try Inntravel, or Saddle Skedaddle.
Golf: Wherever you are on Majorca you won’t be far from a golf course, but there are two main areas – the southwest and the east of the island. An 18-hole round at the mountainous Andratx Golf Course in the west costs from £65, or £49 at coastal Canyamel Golf Course in the east. See Simplymajorcagolf.com.
Es Moli, Deia, Majorca
This elegant and friendly hotel is centred around a 17th century manor house on the edge of the Tramuntana Mountains, with stunning views of Deia, the sea and the churchyard where poet Robert Graves lies buried.
Rooms have terraces or balconies that open to vistas of terraced mountains and are spacious and conservatively furnished.
Between April 1 and May 13, and September 24 and October 28, the hotel operates four escorted walks a week. It also has a tennis court and a new gym. The well-kept gardens feature a gentle stream which provides water for the swimming pool.
Facilities: 87 rooms, two restaurants, two bars, swimming pool, tennis court, private sea-bathing area (free minibus transfer), gym and car hire desk.
Verdict: 4 / 5
Get there: Palma Airport is 40 minutes’ drive, private transfers available.
Walks: cost €55 per person per walk or €180 for four, including a mid-morning snack, lunch and transfer back to the hotel.
Sample package:Castaways has seven nights’ bed and breakfast at £919 per person in April, including return flights and transfers. Call 0870 402 0126, or book direct by calling +34 971 63 93 33, or e-mail email@example.com.
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