Enjoying the rural vibes of Menorca

There are large bar lounges. There are natural evil caves. There are incredible sunsets. Put them all together and it’s a guarantee that the Cova d’en Xoroi bar on the southeast coast of the Spanish island of Menorca is the craziest place you’ve ever had a sunset drink. After all, you are hidden a hundred feet above the crashing waves on a platform that is dropped onto a ledge in the limestone cliffs.

Much less commercially developed than its larger cousin Mallorca, across the strait from the Balearic Sea in the Mediterranean, Menorca surprises at every turn. With just two proper towns at each end of the island and no major roads in between, the 270-square-mile Menorca is largely rural. Exploring this UNESCO biosphere reserve means discovering that it is almost redundant to even speak of a natural Menorca.

On the north coast, the small whitewashed port town of Fornells is the starting point for a boat tour of its deep bay and an up-close look at one of the island’s many famous lighthouses and a perfectly circular ancient watchtower. Surely you will also notice the old ships called llauts which are anchored in the port and are still used for lobster fishing.

It is very likely that the lobsters in the rear tanks at Es Cranc in Fornells were caught on those boats. Since seafood is to the Balearic Islands what meat is to Texas, the restaurant delivers on its promise of “a lobster experience.” And once you’ve tasted the signature dish of this city of stew—a lobster stew in which tomatoes, green peppers, onion and garlic are fried in olive oil, with parsley added— will sell you, as will the local families you see enjoying the festive atmosphere both inside and outside Es Cranc.

A short drive inland takes you to the highest point in Menorca. As for the mountains, Monte Toro is barely 1,200 feet high, but as a quick jaunt it’s a lot of fun to get to this mostly flat island for a prime view of Fornells and the rugged coastline. However, it is high enough for paragliders to surround you as they take off from the slopes. The fresh air and coffee in the courtyard of the small church could well make you stay longer than planned.

Back on the south coast, but in a different realm entirely, the Torralbenc winery and hotel is made up of one of Menorca’s many charming old whitewashed farmhouses converted into accommodation. Whether with an ocean view or a garden patio in your room or cabin with its light wood and tan palette, you’ll be surrounded by vineyards and enjoy fierce sunsets while staying cool on the slightly elevated ground.

Opened just ten years ago, the Torralbenc hotel rose from the ruins, while its 35 hectares of vineyards were first produced just six years ago. Its vintages include Merlot, a blend of Merlot and Syrah, and among the whites a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and the Catalan Parellada grape.

Between stone walls, the Torralbenc restaurant occupies an old wine warehouse. Unsurprisingly, they cook here with local produce, but much of it comes from their own gardens and orchards. After a shrimp ceviche with chipotle avocado emulsion, you can choose a main course of lamb shoulder with rosemary, truffle purée and shallots, or perhaps a charcoal-grilled local fish that reflects the preferred method of slow cooking. traditional chef Luis Loza.

Before saying goodbye to Menorca, make another stop a few kilometers from Torralbenc at the coastal town of Cala en Porter and at the Cova d’en Xoroi cave bar to enjoy another stunning sunset from its cliff. When you taste the island’s popular gin-based drink ointment drink, you are savoring a legacy of the British occupation of the late eighteenth century; here, however, the gin is not distilled from cereals, but from grape brandy and the ointment the drink is further mixed with lemon juice.

You might be surprised by the label of the most famous local gin brand, Xoriguer, with its illustration of a windmill. Windmills are another common feature seen in Menorca, and another one you wouldn’t expect on this island of surprises.

Travel Notes: Flying the only long-haul flight from the US to the Balearic Islands, united airlines will launch the service between Newark (EWR) and Palma de Mallorca (PMI), from June 2 to September 23. The Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, with new cabins including United’s new premium Polaris, will fly three times a week. United will also launch a new seasonal service to the Canary Islands.

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