The Balearic islands of Spain are known worldwide for their beauty, splendor and vibrance. Tourists flock to these islands to embrace the sun and spend their days in ultimate relaxation. The most popular destinations are Formentera and Mallorca, but tourists often forget about Mallorca's little sibling - Menorca, and this forgotten island is considered a natural haven by all who go there.
A small island with a rich history
Unlike its neighbours, the people of Menorca have always put the environment before tourism and thanks to their efforts the entire island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993. Now, Menorca is one of the leading sustainable destinations in the world and it will stay that way because sustainability is at the heart of the local tourism industry.
The story of this untouched beauty goes all the way back to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The former dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco loathed Menorca because they didn't support him during the civil war and consequently the island never got any money from the center which left it undeveloped. Later in the 1950s, tourism started to boom in Mallorca and Ibiza but Menorca chose to prioritize its dairy industry instead. Eventually after the first airport was constructed, the island started to get visitors throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, however there was local movement orchestrated by the Grup Balear d'Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa (GOB) that aimed to protect the island's natural beauty and most of Menorca's land escaped the perils of development. Protecting the land was of the utmost importance and this became the core of the island's culture and way of life.
Tourists who visit Menorca are guaranteed to have an authentic experience that focuses on cherishing the local culture, cuisine and landscape. There is nothing foreign on this island, except for the visitors and in this globalized world, that's what makes Menorca unique.
Explore the land
Menorca is in pristine condition and visitors can spend days exploring the beautiful island. It's coastline is over 216 kilometres long and you can expect to find over a hundred incredible beaches. Visitors are advised to take their time and go looking for the unique coves that are hiding in the corners of the island. Most of the coves are only accessible by foot, and many visitors prefer to spend their days hiking to these prime locations. Speaking of hiking, most of the beaches in Menorca are connected by the Cami de Cavalls pathway. It's a route that goes all the way around the island and it dates back to the 14th century. It was recently restored so that visitors could go hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking through the island with ease.
Sustainability is steeped deep into the cuisine of Menorca, which means the food is fresh, locally sourced and full of natural flavors. The star dishes of the cuisine are, Caldereta de Llagosta - a rich lobster stew, Mahon cheese and Oliagua - a vegetable and oil soup that is served cold for the hot summers. Here is a fun fact, it's said that mayonnaise was actually created in the capital city of Mahon in Menorca! Back when the Brits had taken over Menorca, they brought their beloved gin with them, and when they left, the locals held on to the gin. Now they've made it their own and tourists can have gin-tasting sessions on the island. They can also visit local cheese makers and chefs to see how local produce is made into exquisite dishes.
When you visit Menorca, you can bet that you will be living sustainably as well. Menorca's hotels take full responsibility to make sure they follow sustainable practices and keep their ecological footprint as low as possible. Additionally, all tourist accommodations that are within the Balearic islands have to pay a sustainable tourism tax, and all the money that is collected goes towards funding local environmental projects. Tourists are recommended to stay in the farmhouse hotels, also known as the agrotourismes. Agrotourismes are old traditional buildings that were remodeled for the purpose of tourism and anyone who stays there will experience the quintessential Menorcan life.