Few places have been quite as misconstrued as Mallorca, but the craggy northern coast of the island, around Pollensa and the Cape of Formentor, as it plunges dramatically into the Mediterranean Sea, lends itself well to a new interpretation of Mallorca - The other Mallorca!.
This is an island paradise far beyond the apparent; Azure seas and white sandy beaches stretch along its coastline, pine forests reaching the sand and mountains bordering the sea. It is varied for its size and encompasses a wealth of diverse habitats and landscapes, which are now being protected for their natural beauty with zealous pride.
Most people have known this for a while, that Mallorca is much more than sightseeing and sunbathing, more than boozy hen parties and family beach holidays. The other Mallorca is a place of wild natural landscapes, wine regions, mountain ranges and inaccessible virgin coves etched into the rock.
The other Mallorca is also best discovered and explored in the delightful months of spring and autumn, out of season, on the far edges of summer.
Having boarded an international flight somewhere in northern Europe and spent 2, 5 hours leafing through the in-flight magazine, you land in Palma de Mallorca airport and walk off the plane and on to the runway. As soon as you start down the stairs it hits you, the swell of warm tropical air and the startling clarity of the skies overhead. We are on a small Mediterranean rock, a hotspot tourist destination and hugely popular party island, and yet, its quiet, hot and quiet.
Albeit the vast new state-of-the-art airport, with its rows of buses, transfers, taxis and the bustle of humanity, there is an unaccountable feeling of pace. Life ticks at a different rhythm. It may be the heat, warm Saharan winds sweep regularly over the island in the summer months, coating cars, terraces and beach loungers with a fine film of sand and leaving the air dusty and foreign.
On the drive north you cross the central Mallorcan plain, sleepy villages and wine country, a landscape of olive, almond and carob trees, orange and lemon orchards and vineyards, interspersed by the odd hill town or lone country home. On your left the ripple of the Tramuntana Mountains pierces the horizon. Jutting rock shapes overlapping in blue.
After about 45 minutes on the road from Palma you get to Pollensa, a medieval village, grown large by popularity and European residence, nestled into a dip in the foothills looking out over the plains to the sea. This is the other Mallorca, you have arrived!.
6 Km away on the coast is Puerto Pollensa, Pollensa's sister village and port. Once a fishing colony, inhabited only during the summer fishing season, it has grown exponentially over the last century, to become the holiday hub and lively resort it is today. Wildlife sanctuaries abound, as do protected nature reserves, wetlands and whole tracts of mountainside, which, though largely privately owned, are accessible and heavily protected. Puerto Pollensa is not the other Mallorca in itself, not entirely anyway, but it does serve as base camp for a myriad of outdoor sports and activities; cycling, bird watching, hiking and sailing.
On the turquoise waters of the Bay of Pollensa, llaüts, the original Mallorcan fishing boats, bob gently alongside sailing yachts and the occasional gin palace and super yacht. Still used as fishing vessels by Puerto Pollensa’s artisan fishing community, they are also available for day charters and make a great form of transport around the harsh coastline to the more inaccessible coves and beaches on the northern coast, the perfect way to discover the more dramatic side of the island.
Here, on the northern coast of the island and in the mountains, is where you will find that elusive 'other Mallorca'.
The majestic and wild Serra de Tramuntana Mountains run from SW to NE and serve as a weather buffer to the entire island, keeping the climate temperate and the harsh north winds at bay.
From Andratx in the south to Pollensa in the north, the mountains cover a total area of 1000 Km2, with peaks over 1000m and well signposted, clearly marked and lovingly maintained cobbled walking paths and mountain trails which cross the range.
From Pollensa you can access the entire range, explore the walking trails and mountain paths that cross the eastern ridge and reach the villages up on the cliff tops, as well as monasteries and refuges, which offer the intrepid walker safe haven for the night.
Activity and adventure holidays out of season are a growing phenomenon, as is bird watching, cycling and golf. Active tourism is slowly becoming an alternative source of income for an island that has shown it can reinvent itself over and over again.
The beauty of Mallorca is that you have wild natural landscapes on your doorstep without having to give up any of your modern comforts. Return to an elegant boutique hotel in Puerto Pollensa at the end of a long day outdoors and reinvent yourself, as Mallorca does so well. Showered and dressed in fresh clothes, head down to the pavement cafe for a chilled G&T before dinner out in the square.