About Sailing in Mallorca
The beauty of sailing around Mallorca's 554 km of coastline is that you will experience a wonderful variety of landscapes and a wide choice of places to moor, depending on your interests. You'll be able to admire dramatic mountains that plunge into the sea, sparkling turquoise waters, beautiful long natural beaches backed by sand dunes, glitzy marinas and beach clubs, historical sites inland, and many coves and caves with their small secluded beaches. Setting sail is one of the best ways of escaping the crowds during the summer so you can find your own idyllic spot.
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. The coast receives an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, with prevailing winds coming from the north-west, so south-east regions tend to be warmer and drier. 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.
First things first, you need to decide whether you would like to go for the sailing or motor yacht experience. There is a significant difference in the operation and experience of a yacht charter depending on whether you opt for one or the other.
Sailing is more of a sport and operating a sailboat is a part of the experience with a sailing yacht. Therefore, they are the preferred choice for those who are interested in an authentic sailing experience. Whilst these boats have motors to aid them, there is nothing quite as romantic as gliding through the water with the sails up and the engines off. Sailing yacht charters tend to be cheaper choice and fuel costs are also lower than when chartering a motor yacht.
Motor yachts are the more glamorous option for holidaymakers keen to explore the island in comfort. It’s more about space, luxury and speed on motor yachts and they are definitely preferred by those who want to discover as much of Mallorca's coastline as possible.
Many companies on the island offer yacht charters. Before making enquiries, you need to know 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 don't have a qualified captain amongst your party, you will need one.
Mallorca also offers a host of inexpensive boat trips around the island if you're keen to get out on the island's waters at a more cost effective price.
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.
Crewed or skippered charter
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.
Catered or self-catered charter
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 down 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. This bay is extremely popular for yachting each year thanks to its natural beauty, which includes perfect turquoise waters and caves. There are three sandy beaches in close proximity with sun loungers and a couple of restaurants to choose from that serve up traditional beach-side fare like paella and seafood. The bay can get busy in the summer months, buoys are charged at a daily rate and overnight mooring is also an option. It's also possible to anchor away from the buoys in the deeper area of the water, but be warned there are large patches of weed which can make holding poor here, so make sure your anchor is in well.
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. A few designer clothing boutiques, jewellery and interior design shops can be found in the town too. There are overnight moorings in the harbour and buoys in the bay charged at a daily rate. Unfortunately, no anchoring is permitted in the outer harbour in order to protect the Posidonia Oceanica seagrass that grows underwater. The only anchorage is outside the breakwater. It's worth booking a spot 24 hours in advance here in the summer months to avoid disappointment.
Just up the coast from Port d'Andratx lies the charming, quieter resort of Sant Elm. There are a few restaurants and some of the island's best hiking trails with some amazing views over to the Natural Park of Sa Dragonera, a small island protected from development. It's possible to drop anchor around Sant Elm and mooring buoys can be found opposite Es Geperut, which one of the largest beaches in the area and partially sheltered by Pantaleu islet. The waters here are fairly deep which allows bigger yachts to moor here too but it is recommended to reserve a buoy in advance. There are several anchorages on Sa Dragonera, if the weather is stable you can anchor in Cala Llado and visit the island by tender. The visitors centre located here has some interesting displays about the island’s history, vegetation and wildlife.
Port de Sóller
On the west side of Mallorca, Port de Sóller a charismatic port town which offers a fantastic atmosphere in the summer months with crowds of people gathering along the beach-side bars and restaurants overlooking its large horseshoe bay. Other popular attractions include the bohemian boutique shops and a traditional vintage train with wooden carriages which travels between the town of Sóller and Palma. It's possible to book a mooring in the port or mooring buoys in the bay for a fee but many are private, and you can also anchor a little further out in the designated area. 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.
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. Other attractions in this area include historical sites like the Roman city of ‘Bochoris’ where traces of the Roman town wall and its entrance gates remain. It's well worth dropping anchor here but 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. The natural sandy beach is lined with luxury hotels, bars and restaurants whilst the water is ideal for swimming thanks to the crystal clear blue seas. There are plenty of mooring buoys in this area due to its popularity but there is also space to anchor in the neighbouring area. The sandy ground has a depth of around five to three metres except for the area around the small island of Illa de Formentor where it 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 hill with its hermitage and 16th-century defence tower can be seen from the bay. This cove can be difficult to get to by land meaning that it doesn’t get too crowded, making it an ideal spot for snorkelling. Waters are not very deep here, so caution is advised when anchoring.
Cala Moltó & Cala Agulla
Cala Moltó and Cala Agulla are two bays in the north-east, near Cala Ratjada. Cala Moltó is the favourite place to anchor, overlooked by the 300m Son Jaumell hill, it allows night anchorage if weather permits. It's ideal for sunbathing without tan lines as this clothing-optional beach offers a quiet and undisturbed spot in the sun. There is also a horse riding centre nearby where people travel from all over the island to go for a hack along some of the amazing trails this area has to offer. Cala Agulla has some beach bars, hotels and evening concerts which offer the perfect excuse to stretch the legs for an evening away from the boat. Anchoring in these bays is easy as the water is clear and the bottom mostly sand.
Porto Cristo & Calas de Mallorca
The resorts of Porto Cristo and Calas de Mallorca provide the largest natural marina in the south-east. The famous Cuevas del Drach are within easy reach of Porto Cristo marina. Anchoring here is fairly easy, while the sandy seafloor and clear waters are perfect for swimming. It’s worth noting that weather conditions can change rapidly here because the cala is rather exposed to the wind so keep an eye on the forecast and stay aware at all times.
Located in the south-east of Mallorca, Cala Santanyí, a small sheltered cove, 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 and there is even a diving school nearby. With depths ranging from five to eight metres, it's the perfect spot for larger yachts to anchor although, depending on the wind conditions, 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. The beach of Es Trenc is one of the most famous places to anchor in the area thanks to its long stretch of sand and perfect turquoise waters, whilst the Port de Sant Jordi offers temporary moorings, nautical-recreational and fishing activities. 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 on 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 it's 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. Charges vary from bay to bay and often according to the length of the boat.
Also see: Beaches in Mallorca
Moorings & marinas
There are marinas all along Mallorca's coastline. The largest ones are located in Palma and the south coast possesses the swankiest ones along with some of the island's most exclusive restaurants and bars. Lively port destinations include Palma, Puerto Portals, Port Adriano, Port d’Andratx, Port de Sóller, Port de Pollença, Port d’Alcúdia and Cala d’Or. These marinas are equipped with the latest facilities, including berths available for small fishing boats right up to the growing superyacht category.
Most marinas in Mallorca also allocate a selection of ‘temporary moorings’ to allow passing boats travelling around the island to stay a night or more. The ports offer daily and overnight rates for yacht charters so it’s important to factor these additional costs into your yacht charter. It is highly recommended to book these moorings in advance, especially in peak season because the ports often get booked up.
Also see: Marina Mooring in Mallorca
There are sailing schools and watersports centres in Palma and most of the marinas around Mallorca. These are the places to go for sailing training, yacht master training, motor yacht licenses, jet ski licenses and much more. A majority of the time, the island has the ideal weather conditions that allow beginner sailors to learn the ropes in a safe environment. Sheltered bays provide a great setting for beginners to learn how to sail without having to deal with strong and intimidating winds or waves.