"My love affair with the Balearic Islands began in 1981 on my first holiday to Ibiza, where I immersed myself in the local culture. Such was my infatuation that I packed up my UK job in 1982 to travel to Mallorca and seek work. When I did return to the UK to settle, my ties to the Balearics weren't cut. I later found work at James Villas, with the enviable job of visiting and selecting each of our villas in the Balearics. I'm delighted to wax lyrical about these gems to you now."
Menorca's accents, flavours and fashions may seem similar to Mallorca, but there's an easier going charm to the place and the people revel in their laid back way of life. It's not all siestas and "mañana" attitudes though – during the summer months every village bounces in celebration of its annual fiesta. The liveliest, the San Joan fiesta of Ciutadella, opens the fiesta season with a bang! Three days of eating, drinking, dancing and spectacular shows of horsemanship are a privilege to experience. Of course, Menorca has other attractions too! Xoriguer Gin, a popular tipple when mixed with bitter lemon and frozen to a slush puppy consistency, is made in the capital, Mahon, and fuels the locals throughout the fiestas!
But let's not forget the real attraction of Menorca, as with all the Balearic Islands – the sun! Hidden coves with azure waters and golden sands entice holidaymakers back year after year.
The largest of the Balearic Islands, over 200 beaches line the coast with intimate rocky 'calas' and long white sand 'playas' lapped by the aquamarine sea. On the east coast, Cala d'Or (or 'Bay of Gold') offers pavement cafés and a variety of beaches, while the Cala Mondrago natural park has beautiful, unspoilt coves. It's the north eastern towns of Pollensa, Puerto Pollensa and Alcudia though, that boast the longest stretches of sand. The drive to Alcudia from Puerto Pollensa offers great views of the bay – one of the best sights I've seen. Further round the bay you can often see a colourful display of wind surfers and kite surfers gliding across the water.
Away from the coast, the Tramuntana Mountains and inland villages offer fascinating sights and experiences. Walking and hiking are popular here, particularly in spring when the almond trees are blossoming.
Meanwhile, local restaurants and bistros are serving up fantastic Mallorcan dishes with recipes passed down through generations. Dining in Pollensa is my personal favourite. The tapas bars are a great post-siesta pick-me-up, and there are lovely delis that offer ready cooked dishes to take back to your villa and enjoy with a glass of vino.
So which Balearic beauty tickles your fancy - Mallorca or Menorca? With over 350 handpicked villas spread across both idyllic islands, there's plenty to choose from!