About Sailing in Mallorca
The sheltered bays, dramatic coastlines of the West, and the tranquil calas and coves of the East make Mallorca a beautiful spot to spend time on a boat in the Mediterranean sea.
The position of the Balearic islands is such that they create a ‘Mediterranean front’ and so local winds are very favourable for sailing. Conditions are usually only bad when other weather fronts prevail which can happen during the winter months. The natural nooks and crannies around the coastline of Mallorca are ideal places for dropping anchor in the calm waters of bays and calas dotted around the island.
There are sailing schools in most of the marinas around Mallorca. Enroll for a course or a single session. Sailing schools can be found in our Watersports Guide. Or contact a specific marina to find out more about sailing in that area in our Marinas Guide.
When to come
The ideal sailing months are between May and October and this is of course when the seas are most busy with charter boats and privately owned vessels. You can experience good calm weather in December and January, making the sailing in Mallorca very enjoyable.
The sea breeze around the coast of Mallorca is normally very reliable and the summer thermal winds provide a steady breeze throughout the day. Even during the winter months there are bays in Mallorca that remain protected by the mountains such as Puerto Pollenca and Port d’Alcudia. Larger vessels can harness the stronger winds further from shore and travel around Mallorca's 554km long coastline.
The ideal wind conditions allow beginner sailors to learn the ropes in a safe environment. The protected bays and calas also offer great conditions for beginners to learn how to sail without having to deal with strong and intimidating winds or waves. During the summer months, thermal winds provide a calm sea breeze from morning till afternoon and many of the bays are well protected, ensuring dangerous swells are kept awat from the shore. Puerto Pollenca is a popular destination for sea sports such as sailing and kite surfing. The protection from the Formentor point reduces the impact of swells in the bay which can cause unpredictable sea conditions that might be difficult for beginners.
The bays and calas all around Mallorca can offer protection from swells, as the long and infrequent waves pass the coastline but do not navigate easily into the sheltered bays. However, this is not the case for all calas as some are very open, allowing waves and swells to pass in easily. In winter months or times of adverse weather and storms, the channel of water between Mallorca and Menorca can get quite rough, and swells can often hit the North coast of Mallorca and then bend round to the East.
Charter costs & taxes
Spain operates differently to other European countries in that it levies a tax on charter yachts greater than 15m in length that are used commercially. This is known as the matriculation (registration) tax and costs the owner of the vessel 12% of the value of his boat every year that he sails in Spanish waters. This applies to yachts that are registered in all countries, not just Spain. The Spanish yachting industry has long campained for this tax to be scrapped as they argue the nautical industry suffers due to yacht owners avoiding Spanish waters in favour of other cheaper Mediterranean destinations.
Spain is the only country in Europe to use this tax, which many other member states consider to be discriminatory. The EU Court of Justice has looked at the tax and declared it as a breach of ‘freedom of people and movement within the Union’ which can be construed as illegal. The EU have made a request to Spain to change the way in which it taxes vessels from another member state to ensure it complies with EU legislation. A way for Spain to comply with this is to levy a regsitration tax for only the days boats from EU member states actually spend in Spanish waters.
In June 2012, Mallorca's yachting and nautical industry had a boost from the Balearic President, Jose Ramon Bauza who said that he was against the tax and would be lobbying the central government in Madrid for its elimination. WIth Spains current economic woes, it will be a hard ask to get Madrid to abolish this tax.
In 2013, the Spanish government relented and is no longer applying matriculation tax to boat charters greater than 15 metres. Whoop!
Mallorca is big on sailing and for good reason. Beautiful aquamarine seas, and hundreds of beaches and coves that are only accessible by sea. For those of us without a boat, there are many companies on Majorca that offer yacht charter. You can hire a boat for days, weeks or even months!
There are two kinds of yacht charter - bareboat or crewed. Bareboat charter is for those who have a qualified skipper in their group, who can sail the boat and instruct others to act as crew. He/She will need to produce an International Certificate of Competence - an equivalent to the RYA Day Skipper qualification. You can obtain this certificate from the RYA (if you are a member), and some charter companies will issue you a certificate once they have evaluated your ability.
Sailing lessons, there are sailing schools in most of the marinas around Mallorca. Enroll for a course or a single session. Sailing schools can be found in our Watersports Guide or contact a specific marina to find out more about sailing in that area in our Marinas Guide.
If no one in your group knows how to sail, you will need to take a skippered yacht (and crewed depending on the size of the boat). The advantage of taking a skippered vessel is the local knowledge that they will have. There is such a lot of choice in places to sail to in Mallorca that it does help to have a guide. Your choice of itinerary may depend on the weather & sea conditions, and remember to schedule in some relaxation time as well as sailing time!
Chartering a boat or a yacht in Mallorca is pretty straight-forward. All you need to know is the number of people you plan on taking on the boat, whether you want a skipper or not (and if you do not have a qualified captain amongst your party, you will need one), and plenty of cash! Boat charter does not come cheap (expect to pay at least €100 per person per day), but it really is the best way to see the island. And for a special occasion, it's a really wonderful treat.
Read about our experience of Yacht Charter in Mallorca.
Going by boat is one way to ensure that you can easily get to the quieter destinations in Mallorca. All along the 554km coast of Mallorca you'll find calas and coves offering tranquil areas where you can throw in the anchor for the day and have a swim in the clear blue seas.
Some larger coves also allow night anchorage during good weather conditions. Conditions can change quickly during night anchoring in coves and so when doing this you must be aware that you may need to move during the night if weather and sea conditions change.
Some of the most popular calas, coves and bays in Mallorca include:
- Formentor Beach This popular beach is one of the most northerly points in Mallorca just up from Puerto Pollenca. Ideal for swimming, the crystal blue seas and natural sand beaches here are stunning. Be aware when anchoring here as the sandy ground has a depth of around five to three meters, although between the small island of Illa de Formentor the depth is only one meter. The stunning 5-star Formentor Hotel nestles in the pine trees in Formentor and has many terrace restaurants for evening drinks or a meal.
- Coll Baix This open cove is located 7km north-east from Alcudia. The cala is surrounded by spectacular rocky cliffs and high headland. The 445m high La Victoria with it’s hermitage and 16th century defence tower can be seen from this cala. Be aware that the bay here in not very deep and it is advised to take caution when anchoring. This cala can be difficult to get to by land and so is very quiet and is suitable for snorkelling.
- Porto Cristo Just north of the purpose built resort of ‘Calas de Mallorca’, this east coast cala along with Porto Colom provides the largest natural marinas in this part of Mallorca. Anchoring here is fairly easy in the sandy seafloor and the water here is very clear and good for swimming. The weather conditions can change rapidly here as the cala is quite exposed to the wind. This port has the famous Caves of Drach where you can take a guided tour of one of the largest underground cave systems with its lakes.
- Cala Molto A beach ideal for sunbathing without tan lines, this clothing-optional beach in the north east near Cala Ratjada coast of Mallorca offers quiet and undisturbed spot in the sun. The cala is looked over by the 300m Son Jaumell mountain. This cala allows night anchorage during the right conditions.
- Colonia Sant Jordi Located in the calm waters of the south-east, this area boasts some of the best beaches in Mallorca such as Ets Estanys, Es Trenc, Es Dolc and Es Carbo. The original fishing harbour still exists here and this is where you can get a ferry service to the islands of Cabrera. Overnight anchorage is possible here as the cala is protected from winds. Most areas of the sea floor here are quite rocky but there are also areas of sand and rock banks which must be negotiated around.
- Port d'Andratx Located in the south west corner of Mallorca, Port Andratx was originally a small traditional fishing harbour. There is a good nautical scene here with a number of bars and restaurants looking on to the marina. A touch up the coast you'll find the cute resort of Sant Elm which has good restauarnts and views over to the Natural Park of Sa Dragonera. This island is protected from development and there are a number of hikes you can try. You can book anchorages on this website.
- Portal Vells Portals Vells is found in the south west just a few kilometres down the coast from Magaluf & Palma Nova. It is fairly remote but still very popular thanks to it's natural beauty. There is a restaurant and bar on the beach and is great for swimming. The inlet is a popular spot for day tripping charters from Palma and overnight mooring is available and charged at a day rate
- Cala Santanyi Located in the southeast of Mallorca, the most famous ‘es pontas’ stone arch can be seen here, the rock has been eroded by waves to carve a large hole in the rock that locals have named ‘the bridge’. The water depth ranges here from five to eight meters and depending on the wind you may need to find shelter closer to shore. The water here is calm and clear, ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
- Cala Boquer Nestled in the north west coast of Mallorca, near the town of Puerto Pollenca, Cala Boquer is only accessible by either foot or by boat and therefore is a very quiet and peaceful cala. The clear waters are ideal for swimming and snorkelling with fish and crabs hiding within the nooks and crannies of the rocks. Be aware that some areas can be very shallow and there are areas of rocks around the cala. Take care with this and do not anchor too close to the shore.
- Port de Soller On the west side of Mallorca, Port de Soller is a popular destination for hikers and sailors. The waters here are calm during still weather but waves can pick up and be quite treacherous during high winds as there is little protection past the lighthouse. The marina is largely unaffected by large waves as the marina is tucked round the corner from the large black and white lighthouse in a large horseshoe bay. Swimming here is fine but there are many boats around that you must be aware of. Swimming is better in nearby calas such as Cala Calobra or Cala Deia.
- Cabrera National Park An archipelago of protected, beautiful small islands off the south east coast of Mallorca, Cabrera is a Martime-Terrestrial National Park with untouched flora and fauna. Unauthorised anchoring is forbidden here and there are only 50 permits for boats to visit the island at any one time. Permits must be requested between 20 and 2 days before the visit and are only valid for 1 night during July and August, 2 during June and September with the rest of the year allowing 7 days boat permit. Diving is also restricted and divers must have a permit and dive in certain locations in order to preserve and protect seaweed and seagrass. To request a permit, you have to go to the Balearic Government website.
A project has been launched to preserve seagrass and seaweed in certain areas in Mallorca and this has resulted in ‘reserves’ being set up which restrict visiting boats from anchoring. In some parts of the island that therefore means mooring buoys must be booked in advanced of your visit.
Protected areas: Cala Blava (Bay of Palma), Punta de l’Avancada (Bay of Pollenca), Sa Dragonera/Sant Elm (south west tip).
Due to budget cuts many buoys have been removed and therefore are allowed for anchoring in restricted areas. It is best to check on the Posidonia website before anchoring anywhere that is protected as boats can be fined for unauthorised anchoring.
Moorings & marinas
Whilst out chartering your boat in Mallorca you will undoubtedly need to stop and make use of the local moorings and marinas in Mallorca, which have berths available for small fishing boats, right up to the growing sector of the superyacht category and of course your yacht.