A Visual Guide To Exploring Majorca By Bike
Isolated beaches, cliff jumping, flourishing fruit trees and so much seafood.
Photographer SAMUEL DAVISON recently returned from a trip to the Spanish island Majorca; there he opted to tour on two-wheels, embracing the lifestyle, the slow pace and the beauty of the place. Here’s a few words he wrote about his journey.
Majorca’s not all sunburnt British tourists – there’s also plenty of Dutch and German tourists. But leaving the resort towns reveals an island unscathed by modern tourism. Getting on the open road lets you cliff jump on isolated beaches, visit abandoned power stations and devour seafood by the water’s edge.
Seeing the Spanish island by bike means you’re outdoors from sun up to sun down and you’re working off meals so quickly that you’re always ready for that next plate of paella. By the end of the day (or late morning, we’re not here to judge) you really feel like you’ve earned that can of San Miguel beer.
The largest of the Balearics, Majorca’s terrain and culture shifts wildly as you cross the island. Palma, the island’s capital, is a dense and fiery city that rivals the far larger Spanish cities of the mainland. Unless you’re the type to arrive by private yacht, this is where your Majorcan journey will begin. It’s got a casual half-a-million residents and a tacky tourist strip that, until you know which of it’s hundreds of restaurants are worth dining at, is best avoided. But let it be known – among the neon signs, the garish balloons and the swaths of tourists are some of the best seafood restaurants on the continent.
Exploring the rugged west coast and its Tramuntana Mountains reveals tiny villages overlooking the Mediterranean and nary a neon light in sight. The sunburnt heart of the island has echoes of the Wild West – under the noon sun people will actually stop to look at you as you roll down the empty streets. Meanwhile, just a half-day ride away, the rolling hills of the north give way secret rock pools and hidden beaches.
You might be entering a city with half a million residents but outside the city limits you’re in the throngs of Palma’s sunburnt interior. Palma’s International Airport is flanked by hay bails and farming villages.
The tiny mountain village of Deia has hosted Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler and Mike Oldfield over the years, playing some of their most intimate performances. The bohemian enclave has changed a little since the 1980s but it still maintains its rustic charm.
Fruit trees are the saving grace of an exhausted cycling. Most of them were behind farmyard fences but every now and again one would be growing on the right side. Walking through the back streets of Deia we found a woman selling orange juice squeezed from her tree for a cheeky 50 cents a pop.
Find yourself lost in olive groves that outdate European settlement in Australia by centuries. The warped and tortured trunks of olive trees are a staple of the Majorcan landscape and it’s part of the reason the food tastes so good here – because everything is drenched in olive oil.
Like all good southern European towns, the streets of Fornalux are ruled by a band of stealthy feline residents. At the end of the day, the town winds down watching soccer in the town square over a few bottles of local wine, which you can pick up in a plastic flagon from any of Majorca’s markets.
It’s a long, hot, five-hour walk from Sóller, the largest town in this part of the Tramuntana Mountains, but finding this abandoned hydro-electricity factory on a remote stretch of coast is worth the effort. Reach it from the idyllic beach settlement of Cala Tuent by catching the ferry and walking a more manageable hour along a cliff-top path.
While cyclists flock to the Tramuntana Mountains for their winding roads and long descents, you’ll be lucky to find a spare tube in Majorca’s interior. You’ll have a stunning workroom for your makeshift bike maintenance though, like this one in the village of Ruberts.
Riding between the villages north of Palma is a dream – long, flat stretches of scarcely used road are marked as bike paths and you can switch of the part of your brain that is constantly waiting for that parked car’s door to fling open.
North of the east coast’s resorts and private beaches you’ll reach a string of quiet beaches. When beaches are this private, who needs a change room? Apparently we would, as a party boat came unusually close to shore during a skinny dip.
The tiki umbrellas and beachfront mojitos of Palma’s foreshore did have their place. Riding back into the city at the end of a 40-degree day there wasn’t much more on our minds than a cold one and a swim, preferably simultaneously.
(All images: Samuel Davison)
Next time you cycle, take the Qantas Assure App with you and earn Qantas Points for completing cycling goals.