During the peak season even the quietest beaches and most secret bays in Mallorca become busy. Finding a space on the beach in Palma or any of the popular beach resorts can become difficult and the water becomes cloudy as hundreds of people stir up the sand.
Drastic times call for drastic measures and sometimes the only thing to do is to leave Mallorca. Obviously we'd never go too far from our island home, sometimes you just need to find a quieter island and that is when it's time to visit Cabrera.
Cabrera is the largest island and the name of the small archipelago that sits 10 miles off the southern most tip of Mallorca. It's a national park so no one lives here and visitors are only able to come here in boats with permits. The permits don't cost anything and merely need to be applied for but they do mean that fewer people come here than other parts of Mallorca and as such the water is cleaner and clearer than anywhere else I've seen on the island.
We set off from the harbour in Colonia Sant Jordi, the lowest town on the southern peninsula, in our friend's boat. It is possible to take organised tours to Cabrera but we were lucky enough to go with a friend from the island, Julian, who has been going to Cabrera since he was a child.
The journey over was a little rough and our boat, a small RIB, was bouncing and clattering on the waves, "Don't worry" said our skipper, "if the ride out is bumpy the ride home is smooth." The trip across the open sea takes about twenty minutes and although it's not comfortable in a small boat it is exciting. We saw flying fish on our crossing but Julian told us that he had seen dolphins twice already this week and if we were lucky we might see some too. Our clicking, flippered friends did not make an appearance but we did see some cormorants diving for fish.
The islands of Cabrera form a small chain and regardless of the wind direction there are always some coves and bays that are sheltered by the high cliffs offering calm, clear water. This is the real draw of Cabrera. The water here is beautiful, a clear aqua marine colour I have never seen anywhere else in my travels. As the islands are not easily accessed you can always find you own private bay where you can swim in your own private pool. During the bank holiday in the middle of August we found ourselves in calm, clear water with no one else around, snorkelling, swimming and jumping off the boat. Our own private slice of paradise.
After our swim we made our way to the main island for lunch. There is a small cantina on Cabrera but we brought a pic-nic and took it to one of the shaded benches in the main bay. After lunch, which we shared with some inquisitive lizards we took a walk to the castle on the top of the hill. This old fort is really the only building of note on Cabrera and the views from the top are uninterrupted until the sea meets the sky.
After our walk it was time to head home. We fancied a swim and Julian said he knew the perfect place. Just out of the main bay of Cabrera, carved out of the rock there is a cave that opens out into the sea. We drove our boat into the cave, shut off the engine and swam in the bluest water I have ever seen. The cave ceiling is about seven metres high and the water below goes down about twenty metres. If you time your trip here right you can sit in the cave and watch as the sun sets on the horizon. A truly beautiful place and one of the best experiences I have ever had here in Mallorca.
After this last swim we headed back to Colonia Sant Jordi. The ride home was smooth and the sunset over the southern town made the perfect end to a great day out.
Read more about Mallorca's Natural Parks.