Walking in MenorcaWalking in Menorca is one of the best ways to explore the island using the innumerable trails, many as old as human settlement here, which are suitable for walkers of all levels of ability. Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1993 with 17 areas of special interest and one natural reserve that covers the whole of the island and has a huge diversity of terrain.
The newly opened Camí de Cavalls, a bridle path which rings the entire island on the old coastal footpath used by smugglers and customs guards alike is a perfect way to explore the coastal zones.
Other paths follow the ravines and gullies from the southern coast, and within minutes of a busy beach the walker can find himself in pristine woodland carpeted with wild flowers and ringing with birdsong.
Even in the height of the season walkers can pass hours without crossing a metalled road without seeing another living soul. Many of the trails wind through the lush pasture of the island’s rich farmland, along narrow unpaved lanes between the lovely dry stone walls which form a characteristic part of the Menorcan landscape.
On the northern half of the island the coastline from Punta Nati to Cala Carbó is one of the most dramatic, with high limestone cliffs interspersed with tiny coves with beaches with red sand.
Further east, the highest cliffs of the island can be seen at the light house of Cavalleria with magnificent views of the coastline both east and west.
The path from Cala Pregonda to the lighthouse has one of the widest diversities of all the northern coast, with the red, black and yellow rocks making powerful contrast with the grey limestone further south. The beaches are a distinctive reddish gold and are wonderful places for a cooling dip in the heat of the day.
The Natural Park of S’Albufera des Grau has three trails which wind through this lovely area of wetlands and old salt pans, which are a favourite nesting place for visiting and resident birds, from ospreys and Egyptian vultures, to peregrines and warblers.
Further south the sheltered coast between Son Bou and Cala Galdana has many small lovely beaches of white sand backed by dense woodlands some of which can only be accessed on foot or by sea.
Continuing west from Cala Galdana the coastal path leads through some of the loveliest undeveloped beaches on the island, from Cala Macarella and its small sister Cala Macarelleta, finishing up at the larger resorts of Son Xoriguer and Cala en Bosc.
In complete contrast the inland walks around Ferreries climb through deep ravines and valleys, one of which follows the Camí Reial, the Royal Way which leads between Ferreries and Ciutadella. The trails run along the bottom of ravines carved into the limestone plateau by thousands of years of rain and wind erosion.
The high cliffs are honeycombed with small caves and holes which make ideal nesting places for birds of all kinds, from the imposing Egyptian Vulture with a wingspan of nearly 2 metres to nightingales and tiny warblers.
The meadows here in the lush moist valley bottoms are carpeted with flowers in spring. Many of the walks are circular, but a bus service which runs to all the principal towns and villages enables walkers to return to their hotels without having to retrace their steps.