About Sailing in Mallorca
The natural nooks, crannies, sheltered bays and calas around Mallorca's 554 km of coastline are perfect for exploring from a boat. Their idyllic turquoise waters invite visitors to drop anchor and indulge in a spot of swimming, whilst the more than accommodating marinas make this island a trendy destination for yachting.
Whether you want to charter a boat for a day, a week or even months, you will find you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking one suitable for your individual needs. Mallorca is home to endless charter companies offering sailing yachts, motor yachts, catamarans and speedboats of all different shapes and sizes all around the island.
When to come
The ideal time to be out on Mallorca’s water is between the months of April and October, although it is also possible to experience good calm weather in December and January. The position of the Balearic islands is such that they create a ‘Mediterranean front’, so local winds are particularly favourable for yachting. Conditions are usually only bad when other weather fronts prevail, which can happen during the winter months.
Also see: Climate in Mallorca
The sea breeze around the coast of Mallorca is normally very reliable and the summer thermal winds provide a steady stream throughout the day. Many of the bays are well protected, ensuring dangerous swells are kept away from the shore. During the winter months, some of these bays remain sheltered by the mountains, especially around Port de Pollença and Port d’Alcúdia thanks to the protection from the Formentor point. However, some calas 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 also get quite rough, as swells can often hit the north coast of Mallorca and then bend round to the east.
Also see: Weather in Mallorca
Charter costs & taxes
There are currently no taxes applied to chartering yachts around Mallorca. However, there are additional costs that you need to consider since skipper, crew, fuel and mooring are not usually included in the cost of chartering a yacht.
Many companies on Mallorca offer yacht charters. All you need to know is the number of people you plan on taking on the boat, the amount of time you want it for and whether you require a skipper or not - if you do not have a qualified captain amongst your party, you will need one.
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. It is worth noting that boats with a length of up to 5 metres (16 ft) and a maximum performance of 15 HP can be driven without a skipper license. These boats are not allowed to drive further than 2 NM from the homeport or the coast and can only be chartered for day cruises. For anything larger than this, a boat license is required.
When no one in your group knows how to sail and you want to charter a larger boat, you need to take a skippered yacht - and crewed depending on the size of the boat. Another advantage of taking a skippered vessel is the local knowledge 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 and sea conditions.
Some companies in Mallorca offer fully catered charters, usually you can decide at the time of booking which meals and provisions you would like to include. There are also a number of private chefs and caterers in Mallorca you can book who can prepare your meals for the full trip or just the odd night.
Best places to drop anchor
Travelling by boat means you can explore Mallorca’s hidden treasures, difficult to access by car or even foot. All along the 554km of coastline you'll find coves offering tranquil areas where you can throw in the anchor for the day and have a swim in the clear blue seas. Whilst some larger coves allow night anchorage during good weather conditions please note that conditions can change quickly at night time, so you must be aware that you may need to move.
Portals Vells is found in the south-west of the island, within easy reach of Magaluf, Palma Nova, Puerto Portals and Port Adriano. A fairly remote area, it's very popular year after year thanks to its natural beauty, which includes perfect turquoise waters and caves. The bay is known for day tripping charters from Palma and overnight mooring is available and charged at a daily rate.
Located in the south-west corner of Mallorca, Port d'Andratx was originally a small traditional fishing harbour. There is a great nautical scene here with a number of popular bars and restaurants looking on to its yachting marina.
Just up the coast from Port d'Andratx you'll find the charming resort of Sant Elm where you can also anchor and try some of its wonderful restaurants and views over to the Natural Park of Sa Dragonera, a small island protected from development. From Sant Elm, there are a number of hikes you can try.
Port de Sóller
On the west side of Mallorca, Port de Sóller is a popular destination for hikers and sailors thanks to its unique charms. Waters here are calm during good weather conditions but waves can pick up and be quite treacherous during high winds as there is little protection when you veer past the lighthouse. The main marina, however, is largely unaffected by large waves as it's tucked around the corner from the large black and white lighthouse in a wonderful horseshoe bay.
Nestled on the north-west coast of the island, near Port de Pollença, Cala Bóquer is only accessible by foot or boat making it a very quiet and peaceful spot. It has clear waters which are ideal for swimming and snorkelling, there are also 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, so do not anchor too close to the shore.
This popular beach is one of the most northerly points in Mallorca just up from Port de Pollença. Ideal for swimming, the crystal blue seas and natural sand beaches are stunning. Be aware when anchoring here as the sandy ground has a depth of around five to three metres, while around the small island of Illa de Formentor the depth is only one metre.
This open cove is located 7km north-east of Alcúdia. Spectacular rocky cliffs and high headland surround the cala, while the 445m high La Victoria with its hermitage and 16th-century defence tower can be seen from the bay. Waters are not very deep here, so caution is advised when anchoring. This cala can be difficult to get to by land, so it's very quiet and an ideal spot for snorkelling.
Ideal for sunbathing without tan lines, this clothing-optional beach in the north-east, near Cala Ratjada, offers a quiet and undisturbed spot in the sun. The cala is overlooked by the 300m Son Jaumell hill and allows night anchorage if weather permits.
Porto Cristo & Calas de Mallorca
The resorts of Porto Cristo and Calas de Mallorca provide the largest natural marina in the south-east. Anchoring here is fairly easy, while the sandy seafloor and water are perfect for swimming. It’s worth noting that weather conditions can change rapidly here because the cala is rather exposed to the wind. The famous Cuevas del Drach are within easy reach of Porto Cristo marina.
Located in the south-east of Mallorca, Cala Santanyí is home to the famous Es Pontas (The Bridge) stone arch created by erosion caused by waves. The water here is calm and clear, ideal for swimming and snorkelling, with depths ranging from five to eight metres. Depending on the wind, you may need to find shelter closer to shore.
Colonia de Sant Jordi
Located in the calm waters of the south-east, Colonia de Sant Jordi boasts some of the best beaches in Mallorca. Overnight anchorage is possible because the cala is protected from winds. Most areas of the sea floor here are quite rocky with some areas of sand and rock banks which can be negotiated around. From the original fishing harbour of Colonia de Sant Jordi there are ferry services to the islands of Cabrera.
Cabrera National Park
An archipelago of protected, beautiful small islands off the south-east coast of Mallorca, Cabrera is a Maritime-Terrestrial National Park with untouched flora and fauna. It is one of the most stunning natural areas you can visit in Mallorca by boat, as well as one of the most remote. There are severe regulations to sailing in Cabrera. Around the national park, speed is limited to 10 NM. Unauthorised anchoring is forbidden and limited to 50 permits at any one time. You can request a navigation permit which allows you to anchor from an hour after sunrise to an hour before sunset and lasts for a year. There are also overnight permits (from 18:00), valid for 2 nights during July and August and 7 nights the rest of the year. Permits must be requested between 20 and 2 days before the visit. Diving is also restricted, a permit is required and diving is only allowed in certain locations in order to preserve and protect seaweed and seagrass. To request a permit, go to the Spanish National Parks website.
In certain areas of Mallorca, nature reserves have been set up to restrict visiting boats from anchoring. This is part of the LIFE Posidonia Project, launched to preserve the rare seagrass and seaweed which create the island's unique underwater ecosystem. Mooring buoys must be booked in advance up to 09:00 on the same day of your visit. Protected areas include Cala Blava in the Bay of Palma, Punta de l’Avançada in the Bay of Pollença, Sa Dragonera and Sant Elm in the south west-tip, the coastline near Artà and the Llevant coast. Boats can be fined for unauthorised anchoring.
Also see: Beaches in Mallorca
Moorings & marinas
Most moorings and marinas in Mallorca boast the latest facilities, with berths available for small fishing boats, right up to the growing sector of the superyacht category. There are marinas all along Mallorca's coastline, the largest are located in Palma, while the south coast close to the city boasts some of the swankier ones.
Also see: Marina Mooring in Mallorca
There are sailing schools and watersports centres in most of the marinas around Mallorca, where it is possible to enrol for a course or a single session. A majority of the time, the island has the ideal weather conditions that allow beginner sailors to learn the ropes in a safe environment. The protected bays and calas also offer a great setting for beginners to learn how to sail without having to deal with strong and intimidating winds or waves.