Mallorca: About mass tourism

Written by | Car Rides, Spain, Travels, Vacations

.. or what I didn't like in Mallorca

Whenever you open a guide to Mallorca, whether it is offline or online, you will definitely find there in lame letters some objectives that you should not miss. These are Formentor Lighthouse, Sa Calobra and Port de Soller with its train.

Now, of course, we couldn’t miss such places either, since generations of tourists have praised them so much.

So we set off on a route that follows the northwestern coast of the island through the famous Sierra Tramuntana. Here is our route.

In the first part, we bypassed Pollenca Bay with the aim of reaching on foot, if possible, the famous Formentor Lighthouse, displayed in a place of honor on the “cover” of the island.

The golf course has nothing special to mention, the beautiful landscapes starting with the serpentines at the exit from the city. The road climbs in a few tight curves up to the plateau of Cap Formentor .

The road continues through a forest to the famous Formentor Beach. Here we were greeted by a poster as big as the house, as if further traffic would not be allowed. We followed the others and continued on our way, with the idea of following the road as far as possible, and then go on foot.

The landscape is beautiful, and at one point you reach a beautiful viewpoint called Panoramica al Cap de Formentor. Here are some pictures taken from there. The view really takes your breath away.

Next, the road continues to the Formentor Lighthouse, so we continued to climb the series of serpentines that climbs almost close to the mountain slope. After a spectacular tunnel that crosses the western slope and two more curves, I had a surprise. The road ahead was unfortunately closed to cars. We left the car and continued on our way, with our backpacks on our backs.

On the left hand side I had a beautiful view of Cala Figuera Beach, a secluded beach that is difficult to reach on a path through the forest.

We continued our way and to our surprise, but also to the dozens of cyclists and hikers, after a few curves, we met a “cerberus” that was sitting under an umbrella at the end of the road stopping any access to the lighthouse. Even on foot.

I couldn’t help but think of the disappointment of the people who left Formentor Beach on foot and who arrived here after two hours of walking without even being able to reach the final goal: Formentor Lighthouse.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t understand the motivation of the person in question, a wheel in the system of the local town hall, but since we couldn’t do anything, we were satisfied with a few pictures with the lighthouse from where I could climb and we made our way back.

We went on to our ultimate goal, Sa Calobra. After descending from Pollenca Bay, the road climbs steeply through the Sierra de Tramuntana.

It must be said that the landscape is truly unique. This is thanks to the geological specificity of the mountain ridge you are crossing. Due to the erosion of the rocks, they have acquired all some vertical striations that are unique. Here are some pictures below.

We also passed by the road to the Lluc sanctuary, in fact a monastery founded in the 13th century, a place of pilgrimage, considered the holiest place on the island. Honestly Lluc was the second disappointment on the route.

At the entrance you are greeted by a large parking lot, probably tailored for swarms of believers who probably are visiting the monastery at events from their religious calendar.

We quietly parked our car in the parking lot, and, like any Romanian, with respect for the saints, be they Catholics we headed to the information point to find out what and how to pay for parking. There’s the surprise! With our eyes on the clock, about 10 minutes passed in which the lady at the counter spoke over our heads with a local policeman. Although we asked her to give us some attention, nothing, she continued her discussion.

Seeing that we had no chance, we left and noticing that we had lost our patience, he finally took us into account. With an indifference worthy of better causes, he provided us with the few explanations and a leaflet, after which she tactfully continued her conversation with his fellow policeman.

I think that from all the experiences so far, the girl from the monastery broke the record, being surpassed maybe only by the waiters from the cafes in Paris. It is another effect of mass tourism.

The monastery is modest and apart from an altar with a virgin carved in black wood, considered to be part of its founding legend, it has little to offer. We encountered the same air of “let me leave you”, with people bored to give you explanations, so we hurried on to Escorca, the town from which I knew we would go on a spectacular road to Sa Calobra .

And this time Mother Nature has washed away the sins of the locals, because the road from Escorca to Sa Calobra is without a doubt the most spectacular in Mallorca .

The road from Escorca to Sa Calobra has a total of 9.5 km and contains no less than 26 serpentines in a hairpin. With an average ramp of 6.8%, it includes some portions where the ramp is 11%.

From the top of the Ma-10 road to the Colls del Rais pass are about 2.5 km, the rest of the road descending in tight serpentines to the village of Sa Calobra . The last 3 km are the most dangerous, lacking protective parapets.

The road was designed by engineer Antoni Paretti and was built by hand, being put into operation in 1932 .

It is a very narrow road and therefore quite dangerous. You need to pay close attention to the curves, especially if you come across other cars coming from the opposite direction. At the peak of the season, when the traffic is maximum, I think it can be an ordeal to drive on this part.

There are no shelters and you have to be careful with the horns, because the buses honk in time, like on the Amalfi Coast, to stop and make room for them to pass. Especially when they come from around the corner and you don’t see them from distance.

We tried to capture in a movie the most important moments of the descent to Sa Calobra. Here’s what came out.

Sa Calobra means snake in Catalan. Hence the name of the snake road for the road that descends into the village.

Once here, you can park in a parking lot located at the entrance to the village and after a few hundred meters you reach Sa Calobra Port.

Here, unfortunately, you find again the unmistakable signs of mass tourism. “Self service” restaurants, dirty tables, noise and absurd prices.

As it was already lunch time, we made the mistake of entering the only pub titled “a la carte service” in the hope of a special experience due to the beautiful panorama of the bay. What a disappointment… It was probably the most miserable and expensive meal I had on the island.

That is why I do not recommend you to enter a restaurant in the port. Admire the nature, take a run to Sa Calobra Beach and make your way back. There are enough restaurants on the Ma-10 road or in the localities on the main road.

So we took it to Plaja Sa Calobra, on the road that winds through the port, on the right side of the valley.

The access to the beach is made through a tunnel dug by hand in the rock, from where you can see superb panoramas of the bay. I tried a video of the access through the tunnel and here is what came out:

Sa Calobra Beach is actually the end from the sea of a torrent called Torrent de Pareis, which starts in the mountains, somewhere above the town of Escorca and flows into the sea through the narrow opening that forms the “beach”. I put the necessary quotes because, as you can see from the movie, the place is far from a beach.

The whole area is covered with round stones brought by the torrent from the mountain and piled up along the stream to the bay. If you are not careful, you easily twist a leg until you get a bath.

However, filled of commercials and images from perfect angles with the beach, a lot of people come here and try to lie on those rocks. I understand that in the peak months, you have no place to put a needle on the whole beach.

I said to myself, “Your garden is great, my God”, and I marveled at the ease with which people is taking one after another, falling in love with a picture, even though they are sitting on boulders on an island with hundreds of fine sand beaches.

The grandiose landscape, however, fully rewarded us for the road made so far, despite the not very pleasant experience with the locals.

Torrent de Pareis is a temporary stream of water, which flows during rainy periods, taking over the water tank from S’Enterforc.

From what I understand, the descent on the torrent from Escorca is possible, but it requires mountain boots and a good physical condition, because the road, although dry during the summer, is sprinkled with large boulders that you have to cross. It is a route of about 6 hours that I put on the list for a later hike.

Conclusions and recommendations

After the experiences of the road through the Sierra Tramontana I can say with my heart that the area is certainly the most spectacular on the island. The landscape is fabulous, and the winding roads take your breath away.

Unfortunately, the public services from the objectives we visited do not rise to the heights of the beauties of nature. It seemed to me that the people who serve you are actually fed up with so many tourists, hence the feeling of disgust that can be read on their faces. However, the prices are quite high, in fact adapted to the income of Teutonic tourists, present everywhere on the island.

Therefore, I recommend you to avoid the places where many tourists are crowded, praised by leaflets, in order to save you and enjoy the splendid nature of the area. Good luck!

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Last modified: 23 June 2022

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