In 1950 the first charter flight landed on a small airstrip on Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands (3640 sq km). The number of annual visitors today hovers around 10 million – most in search of the three S’s: Sun, Sand and Sea, and swamping the local island populace of some 781, 600 people (nearly half of whom live in the capital, Palma de Mallorca).
However, there’s much more to Mallorca than the beach. Palma de Mallorca (or simply Palma) is the main centre and a charming stop. The northwest coast, dominated by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, is a beautiful region of olive groves, pine forests and ochre villages, with a spectacularly rugged coastline.
Most of Mallorca’s best beaches are on the north and east coasts and, although many have been swallowed up by tourist developments, you can still find the occasional exception. There is also a scattering of fine beaches along parts of the south coast.
Check out websites like www.illesbalears.es, www.baleares.com, www.abcmallorca.com and www.newsmallorca.com.
The capital, Palma de Mallorca, is on the south side of the island, on a bay famous for its brilliant sunsets.
Locals refer to what lies beyond the capital as the part forana, the ‘part outside’. A series of rocky coves and harbours punctuate the short southwest coastline. Offshore from the island’s westernmost point is the large, uninhabited Illa de Sa Dragonera.
The spectacular Serra de Tramuntana mountain range runs parallel with the northwest coast and Puig Major (1445m) is its highest point. The northeast coast is largely made up of two bays, the Badia de Pollença and the larger Badia d’Alcúdia.
The east coast is an almost continuous string of sandy bays and open beaches, which explains the densely packed tourist developments. Most of the south coast is lined with rocky cliffs interrupted by beaches and coves, and the interior is largely made up of the fertile plain known as Es Pla.
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