||Where to stay
For a short stay, visitors usually select the Port Mahón Hotel (on Avda. Fort de Leau s/n), a four-star establishment that has a swimming pool and a commanding view of the harbor. It is now overrun with British tourists, but it does have a classy new bar serving wonderful fruit drinks.
Another well-known hotel is the Almirante, a two-story Georgian house on the way to Villacarlos (on Carretera Villacarlos) that was built in 1799 and occupied by Lord Nelsons flag captain, Admiral Collingwood. It, too, has a clear view of the harbor.
If you are planning on a longer visit to Menorca, look into renting a villa for, say, a week or a month, and really settle in.
When to go
The summers are hot in Menorca, the winters generally mild. Weather conditions in spring and late fall are unstable. The best off-season periods are May, September and October when temperatures are in the mid-70s. I like the last weeks of September because the crowds of summer are gone, and the Mediterranean stays warm late and one can still swim into autumn. The second best time to visit Menorca is late spring when the island is green and covered with flowers and the nights are brisk. Spring and fall also are great times for anyone who loves to walk or ride bikes.
However, it is Junio, Julio, Agosto when the festivals take place.
In late June is the first of the summer festivals, Fiesta of San Juan, staged in Ciudadela. This is the most spectacular festival when el Jaleo takes place with horse racing, jousting, dancing in the streets, fireworks, and everyone stays up all day and all night. It has been happening this way since the reign of Alfonso III in the late 13th century.
The last fiesta of the season takes place in September and is in Mahón. This is my favorite one. The summer is over. The tourists are gone. Menorcans build a huge bonfire, and after having to deal with tourists all summer, they burn one in effigy.
You cant say they dont have a sense of humor.
Who should go to Menorca?
Menorca is a quiet island that is perfect for parents with young children. The beaches are safe, the pace is slow, and theres not much to do but enjoy the warm water and sand. Menorca is not for swinging singles. They should go to Ibiza for the action.
If you want to get away and chill, as my teenage son would say, you cant beat Menorca. Very few Americans know (or visit) the island. So, go and take the family and if anyone asks how you found Menorca, dont tell them I sent you. Those of us who know and love the island want to keep this little treasure to ourselves. Im only telling you because youre a PCV.
Books to read
There is not much specifically written about Menorca for todays traveler. Dodo Mackenzie has written a series of booklets detailing a range of Menorca walks, from short strolls to hikes. These booklets can be hard to find, but you will get them in the better bookshops in Mahón (Maó) or Ciutadella. John and Margaret Goulding have a general travel guide, Menorca, with detailed information about the flora and fauna of Menorca, published by Windrush. For flowers theres Oleg Polunin and Anthony Huxleys Flowers of the Mediterranean, published by Chatto. For birds, theres John Busbys Birds in Majorca, which includes Menorca. It is published by Christopher Helm.
Touchstone Books (1994)
available at Bibliofind.com
|| For history, there are a few books. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press has published two. The Life of Richard Kane: Britains First Lieutenant Governor of Minorca (Buy this book) by Bruce Laurie is a detailed historical biography that provides insights into eighteenth-century Menorca, and Minorca, the Illusory Prize: History of the British Occupation of Minorca between 1708 and 1802 (Buy this book) by Desmond Gregory. This is a scholarly narrative that details the British colonial involvement with the island. Another good book, The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas and published by Penquin is an exhaustive study of the war and the complex political maneuverings surrounding it with sections on Mallorca and Menorca, but perhaps more than youd want to take to the beaches of this Balearic Island.
One used book that is very good (if you can find it) is The Balearics by Eric Whelpton (available at Bibliofind.com) and published in 1952. To see Menorca then and now is rather remarkable. Another excellent piece on Menorca appeared in The National Geographic Magazine in August, 1928, Volume LIV, Number Two (if you collect old copies). What is special (to me) about this issue is that there is also an article on Ethiopia where I was a PCV. In one issue my two loves. Hows that for a collectors dream?
If you decide to go to Menorca, I suggest you contact Jane Sadler at the travel agency of Viajes Pons Sans. Jane is British and has lived on the island for years. She is a terrific person and will help you make any and all sorts of travel and housing arrangements.
Contact her at:
C/. Angel, 23
Telf: (971) 36. 96. 36
Fax: (971) 35. 17. 09
And tell her I sent you.