Sailing The Balearic Islands: part 1

After spending a full day and two nights recovering from our crazy trip crossing the Balearic Sea to Ibiza and letting the winds die down a bit, it was time to start moving and explore!  We decided based on the westerly winds being forecast for the coming days to move to the eastern side of Formentera. We headed south with plans to get to the highly touted area of Es Pejols. We ended up getting waylaid by the quiet beauty that is Formentera…

Platja de Llavant, Formentera, 12.7 NM / 3 Hrs 11 min

The winds having calmed, we headed 13 miles south to Forementera, excited to see what all the hype was about! We put the main and jib up initially, but light winds forced to motor along instead. Being the high season in the med with seemingly everyone being on vacation, the motor south between the two islands was SUPER busy! Boats of all shapes and sizes from small mono-hauls to huge super-yachts to fast moving ferries were criss-crossing every which way bearing down from all directions!  As we reached Formentera and sailed down the coast line, there were boats anchored EVERYWHERE. The coast line was gorgeous and completely undisturbed white sandy beaches and clear blue water. We randomly decided to stop along a quiet slice of beach to swim, take in the views and relax and enjoy these amazing surroundings accessible only by boat. We were rewarded with an amazing sunset!

Far de s’illa des Penjats Lighthouse
Beautiful sunset off Formentera
Popular cruising destination

ES Pejols, Formentera, 2.1 NM / 30 min

Es Pejols Anchorage

The next day, we continued motoring 2 miles further south to Es Pejols, the only resort area on Formentera.  To say it was crowded was an understatement!  It took us quite some time to find an “shallow” 8m deep anchor spot we were comfortable with. Which didn’t really matter because other boats, mostly partying day trippers on very expensive captained boats would come in later and park themselves nearly on top of us anyway!  It was always tough to determine the swing radius of other boats as everyone puts out so little anchor rode it seems, but then you have the few of us that put out the recommended about and then the one or two that would put out a ridiculous amount, so it was a bit of a crap-shoot on whether or not you had enough room.  We had our fenders out on the back end of the boat all the time…just in case!

Today’s first was leaving the boat on anchor and going ashore! Very nerve-racking!  Have to trust our set up especially since we would be out of sight. Once ahsore, we were greeted with a bit of mayhem. Being the only resort  town on Formentera, there was a lot going on! Lots of Bars, restaurants, shops and people lining the beachfront area.  There were a few sandy beach stretches that were packed with sun bathers and children playing. We found a nice cozy little pizza place down the main street, S’Olivera and ordered ourselves a bacon and onion pizza, a salad, a corona for me and sangria for Kevin and settled in for some fantastic people watching. Quite delightful! 

Downtown Es Pejols
S’Olivera Pizzaria
Es Pejols Beach

We strolled the streets and popped it some bohemian-es shops before stocking up on some fresh fruits and veggies at the local market and, of course, some tasty gelato before grabbing dinghy and heading back to the boat; both still where we left them! Bonus. We had a sundowner on the bow watching the day-trippers party their way through the day into the sunset. 

The next day we stretched our legs a bit by hiking up the cliff behind us to the Torre De Se Punta Prima, a defensive structure built in the early 1700s that we saw in the distance as we sailed in. It is one of 60 such structures around the islands. The hike took us up through the beautiful Hotel Club Sunway Resort, down to a small grotto that looked really cool from the boat, but was actually a bit underwhelming up close, then back up to the cliffs edge to the landmark. We were met with AMAZING views. 

Torre De Se Punta Prima
Drinks with a view
View from the Grotto

After exploring the rest of the area, we headed back down to the Sunway Resort restaurant where we tried some cairirissmas (a rum variation on the refreshing Brazilian classic cocktail, the Caipiriñha) while taking in an incredible view overlooking the anchorage and our boat. We followed this up with a little date night dinner at the infamous Chezz Gerdi Restaurant. Holy expensive!  Not surprised, but still. Yikes.  I had a delicious fizzy fruity drink called a porn star and champagne. Despite the restaurants lively atmosphere, it did not actually come with a porn star despite it’s whopping $21 price tag! Kevin settled for a Caipirinha. The people watching here was unparalleled. Those with a crazy amount of disposable income certainly live and act a bit differently in some cases 🙂  We opted for the cheapest item on the menu, a half pizza, which actually wasn’t very good. This is the type of place you pay for the atmosphere, which was eclectic and full of life, and it was only 5pm! On the way home, we stopped at Espardell, a small restaurant tucked in with beach front views. They had a sign outside touting cheap tasty pitchers of sangria. How could we not stop 🙂  

The infamous Chezz Gerdi Restuarant
Just before it got a little crazy

The winds are changing again, and so we move…

Our first thought was to go south around Formentera with forecasted winds of about 10-15 kts from the N/NW.  We pulled up anchor and started heading south to Mal Pas. About 2-3 miles in, we were deterred by weather. It started raining and the dark building clouds in front of us didn’t look very inviting. We decided to about face, pull the sails in and motor north to our back up plan, a small cove on the SE site of Ibiza. It was a good call, the winds built to 30 kts and storms littered the southern end of Formentera. On our way up, looking at the developing winds and commentary about the anchorages on our Navily app, we opted for a nice protected cove a little farther south that would protect us better if the winds continued to shift east. Always flexing!

Sol d’en Serra Bay, Ibiza, 15.7 NM / 3 hrs 15 min

We found ourselves in a rugged magical little cove with incredible views of the surrounding cliffs, the Mediterranean Sea, a pebbly beach and one amazingly situated restaurant, the Amante Beach Club.  This was the first anchorage we had to pick our way through the heavily protected Posidonia meadows (some as old as 80,000 – 100,000 years old!). They have actually been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is Balearic Law that all vessels must anchor on sandy bottoms and that both the anchor and the chain must not touch or damage the sea grass. Creates a bit of a challenge to anchor in some areas, but we totally understand their concern to preserve such an important piece of their marine ecosystem and found ourselves a nice patch of sandy bottom to settle in. I dove in and checked the anchor, as I snorkeled around, I found an enormous rock in our swing radius that I could stand on with my head out of the water…that would have been quite the surprise when the winds shifted!  So we up and moved Water Wings another 100 yards to a clearer area, which was a good thing… 

Amante Beach Club and Restaurant

The big surprise came at 3 AM as we awoke to 30 kt crazy winds and a very heavy swell. We looked south and could see some nasty storms in the distance. The move to back up to Ibiza was the right call!  

The next day was much calmer. We spent the day snorkeling, paddle boarding, and reading.  The true entertainment came when our new neighbors on a 50ft Beneteau yelled over inviting us to their boat for a beverage. We grabbed some beers, hopped on our paddle board and rowed ourselves over. There we met 6 young French dentists and doctors on their annual 3-week sailing holiday. They were bachelor-ing it up for the first week and would be met by wives, girlfriends/mistresses(?!) shortly. They were a riot, smart, full of life and crazy stories! They also had the Rosé and Champagne flowing; literally every storage space on the boat full of the stuff, and I mean full. There had to be about 50+ bottles in one locker alone.  It was impressive to say the least. They headed into the restaurant on the cliff at 11pm for dinner. Standard Spanish dinner time of course! We headed back to the boat, laid out on our trampolines and enjoyed the cool night air and beautiful starry sky discussing our next stop!

Surrounded by beautiful Views

On our way up the eastern shore of Formentera, we noticed a popular spot that appeared to be a gap in the island with crystal clear blue waters.  Looking it up, we discovered it was the small island of S’Espalmador, that sits off the northern end of Formentera, just across from the Sea Illetes and Llevant beaches we had stopped at earlier in the week. It is one of the most pristine beaches in all of the Balearic Islands, and possibly Europe. The whole island is a conservation area with nothing built on it, so you can just enjoy unspoiled views over the beach and into the Mediterranean. 


Pas de S’Espalmador, Formentera 12.7 NM / 2 hrs 53 min

We motored our way back south and down the western side of Formentera to this beautiful oasis.  While it was full of boats anchoring off the shore, we were able to find a nice spot and just sat mesmerized by the crystal clear blue and turquoise hues of the water lining an expanse of fine white sandy beach. You could see our anchor clear as day in 20+ feet of water. We took no time jumping in to swim! It didn’t last long through as there were quite a few little jellies floating around.

After lunch, decided to take the dinghy over to the shallow gap between the islands and anchor it to go ashore (first time doing that and leaving her out of sight!). We walked about a mile along the rocky beach of Playa De Illetes along northern Formentera. We crested a small hill and stumbled upon a very busy beach area with a packed bar/restaurant. The dichotomy of life on the opposite sides of this small hill was a bit jarring! Back to the boat for a quiet evening though there was a lot of swell and waves from the constant traffic passing by. 

The following morning brought glorious views and I had noticed that the neighboring boats had all moved early that morning to so I took the opportunity to surprise Kevin reading up on the bow of the boat, and strip down all Mediterranean style and streak across the boat and jump in for an au natural swim.  Moments after hitting the water a gentlemen came by in his small boat to sell morning pan (bread) and drinks! Did I mention how clear the water is here…go figure…well, when in the med… While getting out I also got a nice little sting on the behind from a jelly. Entertaining morning to say the least. The remainder of the day we spent swimming in the shallow gap between the islands and dinghying around ogling the 100+ foot mega-yachts littering the anchorage. 

A board well traveled!

We also brought out the 45+ year old Acey Duecy (backgammon) board for a game. This board has traveled around the world many times. My dad took it with him on his Navy deployments starting in the 70′, then I inherited the board. While I brought it fully around the world in my Navy career at least once, I wonder if I’ve brought it to new places my dad never took it; I know Iraq and Afghanistan were check marks, now it’s been played in the Balearic Islands!

This stop is going to be hard to beat…where to next?!

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