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My Menorca: Is this the Mediterranean's best-kept secret?

This Balearic island strikes a quiet contrast with Mallorca and Ibiza, says Deirdre Mullins. Don’t forget your walking boots...

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Cala Mitjana beach in Menorca, Spain

Cala Mitjana beach in Menorca, Spain

Mahon, Menorca

Mahon, Menorca

map of Menorca

map of Menorca

S´Albufera des Grau Natural Park

S´Albufera des Grau Natural Park

Ciutadella Menorca marina Port

Ciutadella Menorca marina Port

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Cala Mitjana beach in Menorca, Spain

Menorca has plenty of sun-drenched sandy beaches, but it couldn't be more different to the clubby beats and post-Leaving Cert parties of its Balearic neighbours, Mallorca and Ibiza.

Thankfully, it held back on becoming a mass market destination and, instead, created a brand of eco-friendly tourism. It's an ideal location for nature lovers and active holidaymakers.

Get your boots on...

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S´Albufera des Grau Natural Park

S´Albufera des Grau Natural Park

S´Albufera des Grau Natural Park

 

Unlike the Camino de Santiago, few have ventured to Menorca's Cami de Cavalls, making its quiet beauty even more enticing. The 185km path circles the island's coast. Follow it on foot, bike or horseback and relish the unspoiled beaches, dramatic ravines, sea-cliffs and pine forests. The less adventurous can take a shorter hike around the Natural Park of S'Albufera des Grau, with 50 sq km of habitats ranging from freshwater lagoons to lunar-like landscapes and wetlands full of birds, tortoises and lizards. For waterborne adventures, the limestone cliffs and caves are ideal for exploring on a kayak. The Artiem Audax Hotel's sports centre does a three-hour trip for €40. artiemhotels.com

Top Tip

The 7km Algendar Gorge hike starts with a narrow passage through curved rock and overhanging trees, opening to a stunning limestone ravine. This path is quiet; the only noises I heard were nesting birds and a bleating goat.

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Ciutadella Menorca marina Port

Ciutadella Menorca marina Port

Ciutadella Menorca marina Port

Eat out

Five years ago Alexi and Teresa, a husband and wife team, chucked in their engineering and fashion careers in Barcelona to follow their dreams. The result is the Passio Mediterrania, a harbor-side restaurant in the capital, Mahon. An innovative menu based on traditional dishes is full of exciting combinations like prawn carpaccio with strawberry ketchup and spirulina (€21). Book in advance for a six-course set lunch menu (€40). See passiomed.com

Glitches

There's little in the way of nightlife, and though many of the resorts cater for families, evening entertainment usually isn't on par with other Spanish family resorts.

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map of Menorca

map of Menorca

map of Menorca

 

Get there

Vueling, Ryanair, and Iberia fly from Dublin to Menorca via Barcelona. Package holidays are also available. Deirdre travelled as a guest of the Spanish Tourist Office. See menorca.es or spain.info for more.

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