Planning a summer break in the Balearics? Each of the islands has its own distinct feel, but Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca share one thing in common – fantastic beaches. They come in all shapes and sizes, and different beaches are better for different types of holiday. So we've put together a guide to the best beach whatever kind of break you're planning – from the best beach party destination to the perfect place for enjoying the Balearics' natural scenery.
Es Grau on Menorca is in the S'Albufera d'Es Grau nature reserve so it's relatively untouched. The beach is surrounded by sand dunes and green forest, and clear, shallow waters make it perfect for snorkelling. Enjoy the views or stay until evening to take a walk into the nature reserve and watch the sunset over the beautiful lagoon that gives the park its name. Es Grau is a real unspoilt beauty just a 10-minute drive from the Menorcan capital, Mahon.
Winds can be light in July and August, but shallow waters and little tide movement make the more exposed shores of the Balearics good for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The northern coasts are generally the best, and Wind Fornells in the northeast of Menorca is one of the best-regarded windsurfing and sailing centres in the Balearic Islands, with kit and tuition. But for launching straight off the beach go for Pollenca beach on Mallorca's northeast coast (it's officially known by its local name, Platja del Port de Pollensa). Pollenca's main beach is long enough for you to launch without fear of tangling a string of sun loungers in your lines, and there's a kitesurf and stand-up paddleboard school in Mallorca Kiteboarding & SUP on the beach.
No prizes for guessing which island we're heading to here. We've written about how easy it is to escape the clubbing scene on Ibiza, but it's still the undisputed party capital of Europe. Playa d'en Bossa is one of the most popular resorts on Ibiza and it might be an obvious choice, but as home to super-club Ushuaia and the island's longest beach it's hard to beat. Playa d'en Bossa is lined with more beach bars and restaurants than you can shake a glow stick at, and summer 2017 also sees new mega-club Hï Ibiza opening here. Take your pick from chillout spaces to all-out daytime raves – Playa d'en Bossa is the heart of Ibiza's beach party scene.
If you want to stay well clear of the clubs then head to Cala del Pilar on Menorca for peace and quiet in gorgeous unspoilt surroundings. It's a walk of 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether you park at Alfuri or walk down from the Cami dels Alocs road and take the path around the coast from the pretty pebbled beach of Ets Alocs. Cala del Pilar is a wide beach of soft, reddish sand in a sheltered cove. Rocky outcrops on either side frame a beautiful view out to sea, which you can usually enjoy in relative solitude – it's not a complete secret but the beach can be quiet even in high season and the water is great for swimming.
If you're flying to Menorca then take a mask – there's a wealth of good snorkelling beaches around the island. Sheltered coves and exceptionally clear water all around Menorca give you lots of choice for exploring and spotting fish, but Cala Pregonda on the north coast is our pick. It's protected from the wind by rocky islets that lie just offshore, so the water is nearly always calm. Walk up to the trail overlooking the beach for fantastic views around the sweeping bay and inland.
Mallorca's Playa de Muro is home to one of the island's newest resorts and one of the largest beaches. At almost two miles long it stretches nearly all the way north to the popular resort of Alcudia. With a huge range of hotels, countless restaurants and facilities the length of the beach, you don't need to worry if you forget snacks or sun cream, and there's plenty of space for kids to play, as well as shallow water to splash around in. For location, convenience and fun you can't beat Playa de Muro if you're planning to fly to Mallorca with kids this summer.
If you're planning a summer getaway for just the two of you then Formentera is the island for you. The quietest and most romantic of the Balearics, it has some of the prettiest and most untouched beaches in the islands where you can really feel like you're away from it all. Playa Levante is naturally beautiful and long enough that you'll have plenty of space, so it feels surprisingly private while being easy to reach. And you won't have to worry about noise or getting bombarded with beach balls while you're enjoying each other's company. Book a flight to Ibiza and take the short ferry ride to Formentera.
If you know what you're doing you'll find plenty of challenging wreck dives off Menorca and Mallorca, as well as impressive caves. One of the best spots for diving off the beach is Cala Torta on Mallorca, near the town of Arta. The sandy beach slopes away quickly to give deep waters not far from the shore, and the beach itself is one of Mallorca's prettiest; it also has a beach bar and restaurant.
There are some excellent offshore dive sites around Ibiza too – most notably the Don Pedro shipwreck, which is the largest wreck in the Med, and the sunken lighthouse on the Santa Eulalia reef, where you can see octopus and barracuda.