The Balearic archipelago, which extends off the Spanish mainland coast, includes 5 main islands, 4 of which are inhabited: Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca. With their coves, creeks, and the many islets and rocks emerging near their coasts, these scenic islands have in common to boast many snorkeling spots, most of them with free shore access.
The best snorkeling spots in Ibiza
Word-know for its nightlife, Ibiza also hides an authentic side, which can be discovered through its pine hills and wild coves.
The region of Sant Antoni de Portmany, on the west coast, is home to Ibiza’s most popular beaches. Even if very crowded in summer, they offer great opportunities for snorkeling, in idyllic settings. The crystal-clear waters bordering the cliffs of Cala Conta, the island’s iconic beach, are for example perfect for spotting saddled seabream and damselfish.
Near Cala Conta, the coves of Cala Bassa, Cala Codolar, Cala Tarida and Cala Molí also lend themselves to pleasant shore snorkeling. The rocky drop-off of Punta Galera, just 3km north of the port of Sant Antoni, will delight the most seasoned snorkelers with its red starfish, sponges and cardinalfish.
On the north coast of Ibiza, around Portinax, Cala Xarraca, S’Illot d’es Rencli Beach and Cala d’En Serra are some of the most recommended spots. More remote, Cala d’Albarca, which can be reached after a 30-minute hike through a pine forest, is also worth a detour. There are also some good options along the southwest coast of the island, such as in Cala Olivera.
The best snorkeling spots in Formentera
Just 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza is the island of Formentera, with a peaceful and idyllic atmosphere. Here, the mineral coast and pearly sand blend with the limpid blue of the water to form a picture-postcard landscape.
You will find in Ibiza or La Savina (the port of Formentera) many boat trips around the island. They usually last the whole day and often include one or several snorkeling activities.
Formentera’s snorkeling spots are concentrated on its west coast, as well as around S’Espalmador islet. When stopping at Platja de Ses Illetes, the most popular tour stopover in Formentera, have a look at its shallow sandy beds, which can offer nice sightings. Further south, Cala Saona and Punta Gavina are often cited as the best spots on the island.
The best snorkeling spots in Mallorca
Mallorca’s most beautiful snorkeling spots are located around Cap Formentor, at the northern tip of the island. If the village of Cala Sant Vicenç offers decent shore snorkeling, don’t miss snorkeling in one of the wild coves which follow one another along the cape. Cala Murta, Cala Bóquer and Cala Figuera, accessible by hike, will for sure captivate underwater life lovers.
In the south of the island, you can get into the water in the narrow coves of Cala Llombards and Calo des Moro, or in the paradisiacal Cala Varques, which you can reach in 15 minutes on foot or by boat.
Cala Estellencs, bordered by rocks, and Cala Deià, where the pebble-covered bottoms offer superb underwater visibility, are two recommended sites in the Palma region. They are both located less than an hour’s drive from the Balearic capital.
The Dragonera Island Natural Park, a stone’s throw from the western tip of Mallorca, offers some of the island’s finest snorkeling experiences. The site is easily reached by boat from Port Andratx, Santa Ponsa or Peguara.
The best snorkeling spots in Menorca
Like its neighbors, the island of Menorca is full of small coves. This is particularly true along its southern coast, between Cala en Bosc/Cala Son Xoriguer and Saint Tomas. Head for example to Platja de Son Saura, Cala de Son Vell, Cala Galdana, Cala des Talaier, or to the twin coves of Cala Macarella and Macarelleta for vibrant shore snorkeling.
A little further south, Caló Fondo/Ses Olles spot is one of the best on the island, but not recommended for beginners. On the west coast of Menorca, there are good options between Cap de Favàritx and the Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau, especially in Cala Tamarells des Nord, S’Escala Cap de Favàritx or Cala Morella Nou.
However, it is in the Marine Reserve of North Mallorca, where fishing is regulated, that you will see the most fish. Cala Fornells and Cala Viola de Ponent, where sargo, gilt-head bream, wrasse and many other fish species abound, are particularly worth a visit.
The coasts of the Balearic Islands offer a good overview of the Mediterranean marine biodiversity. The mainly rocky beds are riddled with caves, cracks and overhangs lined with coralligenous algae, sponges and encrusting anemones.
In the rocky areas, you will spot cardinalfish, purple starfish, moray eels, octopus, and sometimes even small dusky groupers. Around are often seen ornate wrasse, rainbow wrasse and several species of seabream.
The Posidonia meadows and the sandy areas that stretch out in front of the beaches are also captivating environments, with many associated species. While salema, red starfish and East Atlantic peacock wrasse like to shelter in the Posidonia meadows, the sandy beds are the kingdom of soles, most of the time hidden in the sand.
If you are planning a snorkeling trip to the Balearic Islands, we recommend you take with you the Europe and Mediterranean Marine Fish identification guide, a comprehensive guide that includes all the marine fish species that may be encountered in the Mediterranean, up to 50m depth.
The climate in Balearic Island is mild and sunny. On the coast, average temperatures are between 70 to 80°F (20 to 25°C) from June to September, and from 55 to 70°F (14 to 20°C) the rest of the year. July/August is the peak season for tourists in the Mediterranean, and you can expect busy beaches and coves on most parts of the coast.
Water temperature varies between 75 and 80°F (24 and 26°C) from July to September and around 70°F (20°C) in June and October. Outside these months, snorkeling is limited by the cooler water temperatures, unless you have a wetsuit.
Even during summer, we recommend wearing a rashguard, which will protect your back and shoulders from the strong UV that occurs in the Mediterranean. Our selection of the best rashguards and wetsuits for snorkeling may help you to make your choice!
Each year in the Balearic Islands there is an “Indian summer” in September and October when the water temperature hovers around 80°F (25°C) at the surface. Most tourists have already left the islands, and this is probably the perfect time for a visit.
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On all spots, sometimes a few meters only from the beach.
In rocky and grassy areas.
Look for it in the small caves and below rocky outcrops.
Occasional in rocky areas.
On all spots, more common in protected areas.
Easy to spot in Posidonia meadows.
Tiny rocky cove with many fish
Level: Free shore access
Rocky, sandy and grassy beds with many fish
Sheltered rocky cove with many fish
Level: Free shore access Resort nearby
Rocky point edged by walls with fish and sea stars
Rocky creek with seagrass, sandy beds and a diversity of fish
Idyllic beaches with sandy and rocky beds with many fish
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