Why Mallorca is the best Balearic Island for families

The largest of the Balearic islands, Mallorca is perfect for families. It’s lined with fantastic beaches, and filled with a vast range of family-friendly hotels and villas.

It is also blessed with fine weather that makes it a great half-term destination in October (when temperatures hover at around 20 degrees) or June (when you’ll see 25C and above).

Cabrera Island

Why go: Tiny Cabrera is the largest island of an archipelago off the south coast of Majorca. It used to house a prison camp but is now a national park. Take a boat trip for the day and hike up to the 14th-century castle for superb views of Majorca. Look out for kestrels, falcons, shearwaters and shags – and don’t miss the blue lizards. Then head to Sa Plageta beach for a spot of snorkelling. There is a bar on the island, but it is best to take a picnic with you.

Best for: Over 10s

Details: Boats leave from the harbour in the resort of Colònia de Sant Jordi from March to October. Mar Cabrera offers a range of trips from €40 (£34) for adults and €25 (£21) for under 12s.

 

Stand up paddleboarding in the Bay of Alcúdia

Why go: Most adults and children easily master the basics of stand up paddleboarding, which is a great way of getting out on the turquoise water around Majorca. Book an introductory lesson in the resort of Port d’Alcúdia - where the sea is usually very calm - and paddle your way around the bay, taking in caves and also swimming, snorkelling and jumping off the rocks, too, if you like.

Best for: Swimmers over the age of six.

Details: Bellini Sup Center has a range of activities, including tuition, led by certified instructors and using top-quality boards. Three-hour tours €45 for adults; €39 for under 12s.

 

Artà Caves

Why go: There is a secret, spooky world to be discovered in the limestone cliffs of Cap Vermell, near lovely Canyamel beach on the east coast. The Artà caves are a labyrinth of eerie formations that have formed over thousands of years. Caverns as big as cathedrals contains stalactites, stalagmites and dripstones that look like monsters, weird vegetables or ghosts. Every member of the family sees something different – and everyone’s imagination goes into overdrive, an experience exacerbated by the use of lights and music.     

Best for: Over eights.

Details: Guided visits to the Artà Caves last about 40 minutes and cost €14 (£12) for adults; €7 (£6) for 7-12 year olds (free for younger children).

 

Playa de Muro

Why go: Shallow water that is perfect for paddling, blue flag status and lots of facilities make Playa de Muro the ideal beach for families with small children – and teens will love the kiteboarding and other watersports. Hotels flank long stretches of the bay around the north-eastern coast of the island, which is handy for popping back and forth, but parts of the three-mile-long beach are backed just by dunes and juniper and pine trees – ideal for shady picnics – if you prefer a more natural vibe.

Best for: All ages.

Details: The beach (read the full guide here) extends from Port d’Alcúdia to Can Picafort with parking areas close to the sand.

 

Learn to sail in Pollensa Bay

Why go: If you are staying in or around Port de Pollensa, you could spend three afternoons as a family learning to sail in the tranquil bay. Highly experienced and patient instructors will teach you a range of basic manoeuvres in a reassuringly stable boat. Aimed at beginners, the hands-on course for small groups is a gentle introduction to the sport that combines the necessary theory with plenty of time to practise what you are learning as you go along.  

Best for: Over sevens.

Details: Sail & Surf Pollensa runs the course from Tuesday to Thursday, with a three-hour session per day, for €135 (£116) per adult and €108 (£93) for under 14s.

 

Katmandu Park

Why go: Part of the Sol Katmandu hotel, this theme park in the Calvia Beach area of Magaluf is an absolute hoot with activities for all ages. Start by exploring the upside down house, then splash about on the slides or delve into the five-floor soft play zone – younger children will not want to come out again. Teens love the challenge of the huge K3 climbing frame with rope lines and swings. The Asylum and Zombies are frankly terrifying interactive experiences where creepy-crawlies, sinister blackbirds and ghouls get rather too close for comfort.  

Best for: All ages.

Details: Admission to Katmandu Park starts at €27.90 (£24) for adults and €21.90 (£19) for children under 12. Free for under-threes.  

 

Palma Aquarium

Why go: This modern marine park with lots of interactive action is by the beach in the resort of Playa de Palma east of the capital. You feel as if you are underwater as you walk through tunnels around the 55 tanks that recreate the ecosystems in the oceans around the world and contain around 700 different marine species. Visitors with a scuba diving certificate can get up close to the sharks in The Big Blue tank if they are brave enough, and kids over eight can get in the water to swim with the rays.   

Best for: All ages.

Details: Palma Aquarium Admission €24 (£20) for adults; €14 (£12) for children (4-12); free for under threes; family ticket €60 (two adults and two children).

 

Cycling in the Sóller Valley

Why go: Majorca is crisscrossed with tracks through almond and olive groves in the countryside as well as around the mountains and the coast.  Particularly in spring and autumn, conditions are superb for cycling whatever your level of fitness or ability.  While the dramatic roads of the Tramuntana mountains in the north-west of the island are favoured by serious cyclists, there are easier routes there, too, such as the picturesque Sóller valley. It is a good idea to take a guided tour to start with, then venture out on your own.

Best for: Over-10s.

Details: Tramuntana tours runs a range of guided rides. A nine mile (15 km) route through the Sóller valley costs €24 (£20) per person, plus bike rental from €16 (£14) per day for adults, €12 (£10) for kids.