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Short hike from Portals Vells to Cala Figuera lighthouse

Easy 2-hour coastal hike in south-west Mallorca

Jose Rains | Mallorca Reporter | Published: 5 Apr 2018

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Short hike from Portals Vells to Cala Figuera lighthouse

Once again, using my trusted hiking book ‘Mallorca, the finest coastal and Mountain walks’ by Rolf Goetz, I found a wonderful coastal hike from Portals Vells to Cala Figuera Lighthouse. A lovely, short and relatively easy hike makes it a contender for the best year-round walk in Mallorca.

In the summertime, Cala Portals Vells is one of the most beautiful coves in the south west. In an isolated location, it brings in a whole host of sun worshippers ‘in the know’ who travel by car or yacht to spend the day soaking up the stunning surroundings. It takes about half an hour to get here from Palma, just hop on the Ma-1 road and take exit 14 towards Magaluf/El Toro, then follow the Cami Cala Figuera road via T-Golf & Country Club Poniente, and then follow the sign posts along the windy road all the way towards Portals Vells.

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On this sunny spring day, the beach was ours when we arrived. An unlikely occurrence in the peak summertime. Being such a beautiful day, we had actually picked up some croissants and ensaimadas on the way and had a little beach picnic breakfast to give us a pre-hike energy boost whilst we soaked up the first rays of sunshine of the day.

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At 09:00, we embarked on our journey. First of all, the book guided us to the caves that sit on the rocky headland in plain sight to the right-hand side of Portals Vells beach. We took the rocky path from the beach over to another smaller beach, which we crossed and, keeping left we took the steps then narrow path across the headland to the caves. They certainly felt a long way up, at one point, I thought we were going to find ourselves above the caves but, sure enough, we got to them and took a moment to take a look inside. I was surprised at how big they were and was particularly intrigued to find sandstone carvings inside. These caves are famous for their chapel inside the ‘Cova de la Mare de Deu’ which dates back to the late Middle Ages, so definitely worth a look if you are in the area. 

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We took the same path back to the beach and sought a metre-high boulder a few metres further inland, which we had been informed by the book would be where we would take the path up the embankment. We found it with ease and followed the coastline northbound whilst ascending. A few minutes later, this beaten path met a wide track and we followed this left towards a turning circle. From this point, we travelled along a coastal plateau before coming across another tarmac road which we crossed over, catching a glimpse of our finish line as the silhouette of a lighthouse could be seen in the distance. 

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At first, we travelled across the light terracotta stony path but were greeted with a variety of terrain as we moved along, keeping very much to the coastal edge. A bit of advice, don’t veer off on any other paths that take you away from the coastline. We got a bit distracted by another explorer, not a hiker but a wild mountain goat, which then led our eye line in the direction of another path which wasn’t a part of the route. We soon realised we had gone wrong so turned back and followed the beaten coastal path as the book states. A little further, according to the book 15 minutes from the caves, we were directed to take a small coastal path on the right, which would take us around an estuary. Here we had our second moment of losing our bearings, as we saw the path but weren’t sure it was the right route as it was quite narrow, so travelled to the water’s edge to realise we had gone wrong and had to retrace our steps.

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The path travelled inland slightly and around the estuary of Cala Beltran. At this point, cairns helped direct us as there were various paths sprouting off in all angles. A few minutes later, we hit a rocky cliff edge reaching the fjord that is Cala Figuera. At this point, it isn’t clear which way you should go, so we had to follow our instincts a little. A little tip - If you aren’t used to hiking or don’t like heights, there are a few moments you might feel a little unsafe here. Just stop in your footsteps and plan your next few steps, you will feel a little more confident about the situation.

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At the cave, it became clear we could descend down onto the pebbled beach and my friend and I were both relieved to be at sea level. We took a moment on the beach to re-compose ourselves and appreciate the absolutely heavenly scenery. It was a quiet cove, with crystalline waters and rocks. A picture-perfect moment!

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The ascent up to the coastal plateau on the other side was made a little easier thanks to steps hewn into the rocks and a clearly trodden path. Once we were back on top, the coastal path travelled a little further before we hit a tarmac road, which we followed down to the old military base. There was nothing but a few derelict buildings here but the views from beyond were absolutely superb. We reached a crossroads where we could spot the old bunkers on the left-hand side and, beyond some trees, the lighthouse and decided to take this route to get a closer look at it as directed by the book. By this point, it was mid-morning and the sun was beaming down on the panoramic view across the Mediterranean Sea, the views were absolutely breathtaking. 

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The lighthouse was fenced off and we couldn’t get too close, so we travelled across the rocky terrain over to the watchtower. Here we were promised to receive the best views over the lighthouse according to my book. I didn’t believe it could get any better but it did. Unfortunately, the tower was falling down, so we couldn’t go up it but the view point certainly did deliver as we got to see the best views over the lighthouse from this angle, with the contrast of the glistening Mediterranean waters in the distance and the waves crashing up into the rocks below.

After a short time admiring the views and, of course, taking a few pictures, we retraced our footsteps back to Portals Vells. It was a much quicker return journey as we knew where we were going on our way back, so didn’t have to refer to the book and didn’t take any wrong turnings like we had done before.

The hike took around 2 hours to complete and I would definitely do it again! Even in the summertime, I think this hike is possible as long as you avoid the heat of the day between 12:00 and 16:00. It’s an easy to moderate hike, but only due to the trickier rocks you need to cross to get down to the pebble beach at Cala Figuera cove.