| Apr 25, 2018
The island of Menorca is the best kept walking holiday secret in the Mediterranean. A combination of deserted golden beaches, lush countryside, timeless villages and ancient history, Menorca has a surprise around every corner. It is also the place that we feel privileged to call home.
My wife Carolyn and I first came to Menorca 18 years ago and were immediately captivated by its unspoiled beauty and timeless charm. So much so, that within 2 years we were living here full time and have never looked back. We initially came here to live with a view to take a rest from, and as an antidote to, our stressful lives a small London advertising agency. One of the things that we enjoyed when our kids went to school was to go for a 6 or 7 mile walk in order to learn more about our new home. Very quickly we discovered that, as tourists, we had barely scratched the surface of what this island had to offer and the diversity on show was amazing. This very quickly lead to us becoming "Menorca outdoor junkies" and ultimately was the beginning of us starting a walking holiday business here, in order to share our passion with kindred spirits from the UK. Since that time, our business has grown to include the organising of walking holidays on our neighbouring islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. Menorca, however, will always be our favourite and we never tire of showing it off to our guests.
The video that accompanies this article is probably the closest that anyone has ever come to expressing our feelings about Menorca on film and is certainly worth a look. (Make sure you have the volume turned up because the commentary is in English, but with Spanish subtitles.) In addition to this short film, here are 5 reasons why you should think about visiting Menorca:
1) The people – Menorcan people are the friendliest, most optimistic and open people that we've ever met. From our earliest days here, we were made to feel totally welcome and when it became clear that we were keen to learn the language and integrate. In many ways, we feel like adopted sons and daughters of Menorca. Largely unchanged by the wealth that tourism has brought to the island, "Els Menorquins" have a disdain for overt shows of wealth and subjects like "How much my house is worth this week" are viewed as tacky and devoid of class. The people here have a "work to live" attitude and it would be fair to say that can be seen at their best over a long boozy lunch or at one of the numerous fiestas that take place during the summer.
2) The beaches – Statistically, Menorca has more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza put together and many of these are completely unspoiled and natural. If you're looking for beaches set against a backdrop of tacky restaurants and accompanied by the dull rhythm of 90's house music, then Menorca is definitely not for you. Whilst not generally recognised as a magnet to beach lovers in the UK, Menorca attracts sun worshippers from all over Europe and is very much the choice of Spanish mainlanders, who flock to Menorca in their thousands every summer.
3) The sense of peace - Menorca has a permanent population of around 90,000 and about 60,000 of these live in one of its 2 major cities, Mahon and Ciutadella. This means that the rest of the island maintains a sense of calmness and it's never difficult to find a quiet corner from which to contemplate life on this island. Menorca is in fact a UNESCO recognised biosphere and is viewed as an example of how to benefit from mainstream tourism, whilst at the same time respecting nature and the general environment.
4) The ancient history - Menorca is about to achieve World Heritage Site status on the basis of its abundance of Neolithic and general pre Christian history. Geographically, the island is situated in the middle of the Med and plays home to the second deepest natural harbour in the world. For this reason, every major civilisation from 500 BC until the beginning of the 18th century have occupied, raided or traded here. Evidence of the Roman, Vandal, Moorish, English and French occupations can be found on the island. The most visible evidence of all, however, are the Talayotic villages that can be found all over Menorca. The Talayots, who originally came from Southern France, occupied Menorca between around 750 BC and the arrival of the Romans some 600 years later. They have left behind Stone Age villages that have more than a hint of Stonehenge about them and attract archaeologists from all over the world trying to find out more about this little known civilisation shrouded in the mists of time.
5) Fiestas – In our opinion, Menorcan horse fiestas are the best excuse for a party that we've ever known. Nearly every weekend between the end of June and the beginning of September each Menorcan village takes its turn to host what can only be described as ‘one hell of a do’. The focus of these events is the traditional Menorcan Jaleo, where grown men push each other out of the way in order to touch the breastplate of the huge black Menorcan horses, whilst the animal is up on its back legs. This lunacy takes place to the backdrop of music played by Menorcan brass bands and is largely fuelled by copious amounts of Menorcan gin and lemon. As we said in point 1, the Menorca people are at their best when having a party and this is probably the best example of this island trait.
We could talk for ever about the joys of Menorca, but why not come and see for yourself. You won't regret it.
Click here to view video.