Most people fly to Majorca or Ibiza. Meanwhile, I consider Formentera to be a real pearl of the Balearic Islands. Read carefully why I went there by bike and what fascinated me there so much. Was it only the influence of a police check? Here you can find plan and practical informations for one-day trip.
Formentera has been and still is the symbol of idyllic relaxation, water sports, paradise beaches in the Mediterranean and snobbery. The island is full of contrasts. On the one hand, it’s the most famous island in the Balearic Islands archipelago inhabited by hippies, where life has a slightly slower pace. On the other hand, however, it’s the most popular location among people bored with loud resorts (especially in July and August)who are ready to pay three times as much for this idyllic peace. Unfortunately, Formentera isn’t cheap. I paid almost 10 EUR for an ordinary baguette with ham (bocadillo con jamon) in a bar. There are no camping sites here as well and a hotel must be booked well in advance. Inhabitants of Formentera say one comes to the island either out of curiosity of sheer snobbery. I went there for two reasons. Firstly, out of curiosity encouraged by the stories I had heard in Ibiza from some married couple I met and secondly, I wanted to see for myself how that paradise island, that Juanma came from, looked like. Namely, the policeman who once helped me come back home when I got lost in a rented car in Minorca.
The easiest and, at the same time, the most popular way to get to the island is by ferry from Ibiza. There used to be only two companies one could choose from, nowadays there are private carriers as well, so instead of travelling for 40 minutes, like in my case, you can shorten your journey up to 25 minutes. For me the most important thing was the possibility to use the discount for the Balearic Islands residents that I had as a hotel employee. It wasn’t offered by all carriers, however, but perhaps something changed. You can buy tickets online, but not always does it come cheaper. However, it’s worth checking prices of individual tickets on site as they can differ considerably. Ferries go very often so don’t worry if you don’t get on the first one.
Travel offices advertise Formentera as an oasis of piece and escape from crowds of tourists. This is not entirely true considering the fact that each ferry was fully packed with people and there are a few of them during a day. The worst period is July – August. The closest to October, the smaller the traffic. Right after we leave the harbour we can already start savouring the emerald sea which here and there sparkles with turquoise. We leave crowded Ibiza far behind us. Delicate breeze forecasts a few-hour relax.
Right after we get to a small seaport in the north of the island, I get to a bicycle rental point. Allegedly the inland ones are a bit cheaper but I don’t have as much time. Some people rented cars. But it doesn’t pay off for one person only. I also think that a bicycle trip is more interesting. Some picturesque bays are very small and there’s no possibility of getting there by car. There’s also a possibility of using a public bus but they run very seldom.
So off I go to a national park Ses Salines where there are miniature oceanic forests creating salt lakes – lagoons with salinas where salt used to be gained from sea water. First of them is Estany de Peix. The bigger one’s name is Estany Pudente and it was ideal for a bicycle round trip. The view was breath-taking. These aren’t my first Salinas but I never saw such beautiful variety of colours. Looking at pink-white lagoon, dunes and piles of salt you get the impression as if you were in some milky land. It’s hard to believe that salt was obtained in such beautiful scenery. As an reminder of it, there is a railway line which used to transport salt to La Savina harbour. It’s hard for me to leave this place but I’m pressed for time.
It would be a sin, of course, not to stop for a small picnic on Iletes beach. A short stop for a sandwich will be good for me. It’s the most frequently visited beach, so if you’re looking for some peace, then you should rather go somewhere else. I forgot to mention that Formentera is a mecca for naturists as all beaches there have a status of “clothing optional”. So it may sometimes happen that a beautiful view over the lagoon and neighbouring islands will be blocked by somebody’s hanging penis. Then you can, if you swim well, move to a little island of Espalmador and there take natural mud baths. When you finally feast your eyes with beautiful views, it’s worth going further along the coast to a beautiful beach of Es Pujois with dunes.
Stonehenge fans are recommended to see Ca na Costa– a stone circle consisting of 2-metre-high standing stones that dates back to 2000 – 1600 B.C. It’s allegedly the most important megalith in the archipelago and the oldest trace of human presence unless you believe in aliens of course. According to a legend, magical power is attributed to these stones. It would account for the fact why I’m still full of energy to have a small trip round a picturesque capital of the island San Francesc Xavier, better known as San Francisco. Besides stands with local products, you can also visit a 18th century defence church and Ethnographic Museum as long as you’re interested in history of the island and the region.
The day is coming to an end so I should be heading towards the port. Before I leave, however, I’d like to enjoy again those heavenly views over Majorca. To do it, I ride to limestone plateau El Pilar de la Mola. You can find here the monument of Julius Verne whose name should ring the bell to every self-respecting traveller. I guess it was the most difficult part of my route. On my way back I turn to a famous beach of Platja Mitjorn, which is the longest beach in Formentera and runs for 8 km. The last glance at the sunset and we’re coming back to the port. I will only drop in a local bar for a sandwich and a glass of sangria to have some energy to cycle some more.