Barking dogs, hot days and the best Indian restaurant this side of Bradford
An early summer visit to Cala’n Blanes, Minorca
If you are looking for a beach holiday, Cala’n Blanes is not the place for you. It’s not that there aren’t any beaches, there are two but they are very small though the best, the cove of Cala’n Blanes, is none the worst for it.
But let’s backtrack and start from the beginning.
Cala’n Blanes is in the north-west corner of the island and is around an hour’s coach transfer from Mahon Airport. Accommodation in the town is split between large hotels, apartments and villas.
Having experienced the privacy and luxury a villa with its own pool provides I would highly recommend you do the same if you visit this part of Minorca. Though one thing which drives me nuts was the constant barking of dogs in neighbouring villas. Maybe I was just unlucky.
But, whichever type of accommodation you opt for Cala’n Blanes is a small town which has merged with Los Delfines to create a ‘super resort’ and everything is within easy walking distance.
San Miguel at two Euros a pint. So, a great start but a closer look revealed a less than a great impression.
Cala’n Blanes very much reminded me of a fading English seaside town in the 1980s. Bars and souvenir shops interspaced with empty lots and boarded up pubs and businesses. That may be a little harsh but the abandoned bars were a surprise though there were still plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from.
And, most were firmly orientated towards families. Just about every bar had a children’s play area and there is certainly plenty for the kids to do here. The aquapark is large and welcoming and the kids will love it.
The aquapark along with most of the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops are grouped along the main drag which runs beneath the dolphin archway. Just off the main road is The Square, with a number of bars all of which serve a massive range of food.
One of the pubs is a sports bar so was the obvious venue to watch the British & Irish Lions get hammered by the All Blacks. The big screens were on all day with football and other big matches for the sports fan missing the big match action.
The bars in the square also host live entertainment every night and while I was there it was tribute bands every night along with warm-up shows aimed at the kids.
What can I say? It was hot. Every day was well over 30 degrees and a local told me it was warmer than normal in June. Pack the Factor 30 and you’ll be fine.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are looking for a beach holiday you will probably want to give Cala’n Blanes a bit of a swerve.
However, the main beach is in a cove and is very small but is clean and very popular. Sun beds can be hired as can peddle boats. The surrounding rocks and inlets provide loads of places for diving and snorkelling.
It is a lovely beach and the ‘Pirate Bar’ serving beers and cocktails only adds to the attraction.
There are a couple of other smaller coves, Cala’n Forcet and Calas Picas but to be honest they aren’t worth the hike to visit.
But, somewhere you should certainly make the effort to see is Cala’n Brut. This is a stunning rocky cove with crystal clear water. There is no beach but plenty of natural platforms where you can sit and while away sometime before climbing down one of the many sets of steps to swim in the warm water.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from with a variety of menus including tapas, Chinese, Indian, Pizza (no Italian restaurants though) and, if you really are desperate for a home, lots of British pub food including the only (self-proclaimed) genuine English chippy on Minorca.
Generally, I have to say the restaurants we sampled were very uninspiring except for Masala Indian. I can’t recommend this place highly enough.
Wonderful dishes, huge choice and very friendly staff. There is another Indian restaurant in the town but, like most of the other local eateries, they also do pizza, burgers and 1001 other dishes.
Masala Indian only does Indian food and does it very, very well.
If Indian food isn’t your thing you have plenty of other options and all the restaurants offer children’s portions. Prices are reasonable but certainly not cheap depending on which eatery you choose.
To be honest, if you are looking for genuine Spanish cuisine Cala’n Blanes is not for you. You need to head into Ciutadella (more on which later).
The Shopping Bar became our de-facto local. On the edge of The Square this large, mainly outdoor bar served cheap beers and exotic cocktails. There were shops opposite and the place was surrounded by other bars and restaurants. It was an excellent base from which to explore.
All the bars in the town offered a huge range of beers and cocktails and I have to say I am now a huge fan of Estrella – a Spanish lager which you can also buy in British supermarkets.
Of the bars in Cala’n Blanes, two were particularly popular and lively. Frankies and 61 (an Irish bar) were always busy and both usually had karaoke blasting out at some point during the night.
I can’t say I tried every bar in the town but without exception, they had lots of choices and friendly staff.
Cala’n Blanes is not Ibiza or Magaluf. The bars are open late but don’t expect the partying you will find on other Spanish islands. Which is fine by me.
There are plenty of souvenir shops, mostly selling the same items but also tobacconists, sportswear and supermarkets for that self-catering.
The supermarkets are fine for the odd item or two but they are very expensive. If you are in a self-catering apartment or villa it is far cheaper to travel into Ciutadella where there is a Lidl and Mercadona.
Mercadona offers the better prices and variety of the two and a taxi from Cala’n Blanes is around eight Euros so you can do a big shop and save plenty of cash compared to the local supermarkets.
One of the biggest towns on the island, Ciutadella is a great place for spending the day looking around the shops and checking out the local cafes and bars.
Getting to the town from Cala’n Blanes is easy either by taxi or bus. The buses run regularly, are modern and comfortable and costs €1.65 for the 25-minute trip.
As I mentioned earlier a taxi will leave you to change from a 10 Euro note or if you are feeling energetic, there is a wonderful walk along a coastal path from the beach in Cala’n Blanes to the harbour in Ciutadella which you can do in about 40 minutes. But, don’t attempt this during the hot afternoon.
Ciutadella is packed with fantastic shops and you will find all the best local produce here. Regular markets are held and around the main square, you will find plenty of authentic cafes and tapas restaurants. You will also find Burger King so there is something for everyone.
The harbour at Ciutadella is stunning. Here you will find different boat trips being advertised. The best ones leave around 9 am and return at 5 pm and take you all around the island with stops at different coves and inlets.
Expect to pay around 45 Euros but that includes food and drink so is an excellent price for an all day tour.
Who should go to Cala’n Blanes?
Beach lover? Forget it. Party animal? Forget it.
But, if you have a young family this will be a great place to go on holiday. In July and August I can imagine the place to be packed with families though when I visited in June, there were few families which meant a quiet and relaxing time for our all adult party.
Cala’n Blanes is popular with British holidaymakers but also with the Spanish and there were large groups of young adults enjoying the town. I’m not sure if this is a trend which lasts all summer as I visited during the Festival of Sant Joan which attracted people from all over the country.
But, I would certainly go back and would recommend it though it would probably be better to visit in July and August for families.