On Saturday we hired bikes and set off on a hot afternoon to explore the beaches of Palma Bay. A shoreline cycle path runs from the northern end of Palma docks all the way to the resort S’Arenal in the south.
It was a sunny day and Hannah and I were on our way to the beach, our go-to activity, when we happened upon ‘Segway Palma’ at midday. I had discreetly done my homework and the mission was set: to combine bikes and beaches to make Hannah happy.
Segway Palma is based on Calle J.Ferrer, just off Placa Drassana. Their main product is Segway Tours but they also offer a range of bicycles to hire including a lock and a tyre pump. It is €12 for the first day you hire a hybrid bike with a comfortable saddle, €10 for the second day. This just beats the €14 per day at ‘Palma on Bike’. Although interestingly at Playa de Palma you can hire them for €5 per day, but this would mean hopping on a bus to the beach and doing the trip in reverse. The choice is yours…
I quickly convince Hannah that cycling to the beach is easier than walking and within a matter of minutes we had fiddled with saddle heights and were peddling past the ever-glorious gothic Cathedral. Negotiating the weekend tourists we dodged our way to the cycle path at the sea front. By this point I was getting used to my back pedal coaster brakes, pedalling backwards to slow down. Fear not, I also had hand operated brakes which felt more ordinary!
“It’s the range of coastal settings that make the 10 mile or so bike ride as interesting as it is,” I explained to a yawning Hannah. Once past the City beach Ca'n Pere Antoni, frequented by locals, you cycle through Portixol, a quaint fishing village with a port full of smaller boats. You then round another headland to El Molinar, by far the prettiest and most chic backdrops to the route. At each end of the clean, sandy bay there is a small collection of attractive places to rest, eat and drink. This beach then runs into Ciudad Jardin, a fantastic spot for a swim and an ice-cream. There is no need to cycle too hard.
From here the surroundings briefly get more rugged. Departing planes fly close overhead and we encountered one of the few insignificant inclinations en route – only made difficult by 30 degrees sun shine and peddling backwards by mistake…
Actually the main selling point, to any beach worshipper, is that the ride is easy going and flat (and of course there is a different beach around every corner). The only dangers are the various modes of traffic – cyclists, tandems, roller skates, dog walkers, ferret walkers (!), joggers, power walkers and Segways. Don’t be put off, for the most part you can ride just to the side of the cycle lane where there is more freedom. Do watch out for people aimlessly wandering onto the track! A loud bell is a must...
After almost running over a ferret and negotiating the Club Maritim de Can Pastilla, the bay opens up into Playa de Palma - a spectacle in itself. Stretching 5km from Can Pastilla to S’Arenal - a vast, wonderful expanse of sand that has not been allowed to ruin. With oodles of low cost holidays and 50,000 hotel beds in the area, the bay somehow still holds onto some character and natural beauty.
Admittedly we had chosen to explore through the heat of the day. Overheating and our skin turning an unnatural pink colour, we needed shade. Up close, restaurants and bars are squeezed in next to and on top of each other; inflatable toys fill doorways; “Wurst” takeaways lure in the strong German contingent; pizza, pasta and paella is all bizarrely as cheap as the other. Against our better judgement and in desperation we stopped for a 5 euro pizza and coke. It was awful. You would be much better investing in the chic establishments of El Molinar or Portixol.
However, the sea and beach vistas at Playa de Palma are fantastic. With no shortage of entertainment, the beach is a hub of activity and it appeared the conditions were ripe for kitesurfing – a sport exciting to watch whilst I persuaded Hannah that “I could do that”.
Full of cheap pizza, it was back on the bikes for the home leg. Thankfully the sea breeze was in full force to help cool us down. In the heat it’s a good hour back from Playa de Palma to the City. A customary sea dip at Ciudad Jardin and a cocktail at El Molinar were all too tempting!
Bikes and beaches (and booze) = happy Hannah. Mission accomplished!