“The mountains are calling. I must go” – John Muir
When we planned a couple weeks on an island in the Mediterranean, we were thinking more about the beach and the beautiful, crystal-clear waters. But after a few days in the city and near the sea, the mountains were calling!
Majorca is an island off the coast of Spain that is a very popular summer spot with European tourists. It is most known for its shopping and nightlife. However, it also happens to be where the professional cycling team, Team Sky, does some winter training, and so it is also popular with cyclists. But its mountain range, the Serra de Tramuntana that dramatically cascades down to the sea on the Western part of the island, offers some incredibly scenic walking trails.
After a few days in the capital of Palma with the hordes of tourists, a walk in the mountains with relative solitude was just what we were after. We chose a route between Cala Tuent and Puerto de Sóller which are both on the northwest coast of Majorca and only about 30 km from Palma. We were day tripping from Palma. So while the 211 bus and the Ferrocarril de Sóller (first train is at 10am) offer good options to get to the Sóller area, we opted to pick up a rental car to give us some flexibility on both ends of the hike. (Travel tip: we reserved a small commercial truck with Enterprise on the Palma port and as expected, they replaced it with a standard car when we picked it up – saving us over 75% the cost of a standard rental.)
We were aiming for a 10 am sailing on a water taxi with Barcos Zules from Puerto de Sóller to Cala Tuent so that we could walk the 10 miles back on the Balitx path. It was tight but we made the boat by 10 minutes.
After squeezing out of the harbor, we followed the coast for about 45 minutes, stopping to check out a couple bays and caves along the way.
We were delivered to the Cala Tuent beach – which is a nice quiet bay at the base of the mountains (if you are looking for something to eat, there is a restaurant about 200 meters up the trail from the South side of the beach).
For the first couple hours of hiking the path gains a bit of elevation and also meanders along the cliffs, providing fantastic views of the bays below. The views above and below are spectacular.
A couple hours in, you climb two saddles and then drop into a gorgeous valley filled with olive trees and goat farms. You lose most of your shade for the remainder of the hike so it can get hot. It was 35C the day we traversed this spot so we were glad we brought 3 liters of water. (Note: water is not easily accessible on the trail so bring plenty before you hop on the boat – 2 liters per person is a good min for a moderately hot day; more for hotter days).
After an hour of wandering through the olive trees, you will reach another saddle and the last high point for this direction. As you start to descend, you will get killer views of Puerto de Sóller. You will see plenty of signs on the path for trails to the Port or to the town of Sóller – both about 60-90 minutes down the path.
While we found the trail well marked for 80% of the way, we lost the signs as we exited onto a road where we should have been only 20-30 minutes from the end. We had a 50/50 choice in direction and chose incorrectly and ended heading down a busy road for a few more kilometers (if you end up there, take a right back towards the north). But we found a restaurant to grab a couple cold beers and called a taxi to get a ride back to the Port.
Palma is a fun city (stay tuned), but if you find yourself in Majorca, you need to get out and see the mountains – they are incredible!