“Mallorca? But it’s full of hen parties and 18-30’s holidays?” This was the reaction from my partner when I told him I’d booked us flights to the Spanish island for a five-night getaway in the middle of July. It’s true, Mallorca does have a bad reputation; renowned for sunburnt British tourists knocking back shots and dancing on bars. If you know where to go, however it’s easy to escape the resorts and find a tranquil part of the island to get away from it all.
We stayed in Cala Figuera, a small traditional fishing harbour located in the south-east of the island. The lack of a beach keeps the majority of the tourists away, although there did seem to be quite a few German hikers passing through the town on a daily basis. Contrary to the resorts full of British holidaymakers elsewhere on the island, English wasn’t widely spoken and we relied on my tentative German vocabulary when ordering in restaurants.
Life was slow there, stepping back several paces to a routine that centred on eating, swimming and lazing in the sun. The lack of a beach didn’t stop us enjoying the crystal clear water that the area boasts. We swam in the harbour every day, and lounged on the rocks that looked out to sea, leaping off them into the depths to cool off. Every afternoon, the local fishermen returned to the harbour with their catch of the day, attracting crowds of locals eager to purchase fish for their supper or for the restaurants up on the cliff. It felt like we were the only outsiders invading their daily routine.
One day we took a cab up the coast to Portopetro to hire a motorboat for the afternoon. Although this involved briefly encountering a busy town, we barely encountered another soul once we’d taken to the water, speeding down the coast of Mondrago National Park. We stopped in secluded coves to dive into the turquoise sea, briefly visiting the busy bay of Calo des Moro for a short swim to shore, the only time that we shared the water with others during the trip.
In the evenings, Cala Figuera was a far cry from the bright lights and busy streets of more famous towns on the island. A scattering of restaurants offered menus predominantly focusing on fresh seafood, the nightlife founded around good food and a few glasses of wine while watching the sun set, rather than dancing the night away. For the best views in the village, we headed to the cliffs that look out to sea to sit on the precipice and watch boats sail past in the distance.
The harbour itself was the highlight of our trip, its two inlets lined with fishing boats and traditional houses. During the day we’d head here to swim among the boats, spotting small schools of fish below us in the clear water and delighting in not having to share a beach with hordes of tourists. In the evening, after dinner, the harbour provided the perfect place for a lazy stroll and people watching. Sitting by the water, we would watch locals return on their boats after a day at sea, packing away for the night and unloading boxes of fish that they’d caught for supper.
Rather than being a place to simply soak up the sun, Cala Figuera allowed us to get a glimpse into the life of the locals. This isn’t the destination for anyone seeking flashy hotels, infinity pools, white sand beaches and a strip of lively bars, but it is the perfect place for those seeking a tranquil getaway where they can get to grips with the real Mallorca.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.