The region around the town of Santanyi, in the south-west corner of Majorca, has been largely untouched by the major tourist developments elsewhere on the island. The area includes historic inland towns, seaside resorts, and unspoiled landscapes of rocky coves, beaches, cliffs and wetlands. Santanyi is especially popular with walkers and anyone seeking an experience of Majorca away from the usual tourist routes.
The town of Santanyi itself was established by the Spanish 700 years ago, on the site of a former Moorish settlement. Today its Old Quarter features many traditional homes built with the distinctive Majorcan stone. The modern town is a mix of old and new, where designer boutiques and international restaurants vie for frontage on the village square with more traditional cafés and shops selling hand-crafted jewellery
The coast of the Santanyi region includes a number of beaches renowned for their scenic beauty. Cala Santanyi is about 5 kilometres from Santanyi town, and has a wide white-sand beach offering sun and shelter at the end of a deep rocky cove. There are only a few hotels on the beach here, as well as restaurants and bars, and plenty of room for everyone. A coastal path leads north around the headland to coves with some good snorkelling sites, and scuba divers can explore a large underwater cave in this area. A famous sea-stack known as “Es Pontas” – the Bridge – is close by. Photographs of this ancient arch of rock rising from the azure sea are widely featured in travel publicity about Majorca
Fine sandy beaches are found all over Santanyi’s 35 kilometres of coastline, but some of the most scenic places are those areas without beaches that have mostly escaped the attention of tourists and developers. The tiny fishing port of Cala Figuera is said to be one of the loveliest on the island, a place where traditional stone fishermen’s houses – and a several millionaire’s mansions – line the rocky narrow harbour. This is a popular spot with yacht-owners, and with sailors of smaller craft too. The harbour takes the sea deep among the houses in the centre of the town, where boats are used to deliver goods and people to the door – giving Figuera the local nickname of “Little Venice. Walkers can take a footpath out over the headlands near Figuera’s lighthouse, which have been decorated over the centuries with rock paintings and carvings of religious symbols.
The Santanyi region is also home to the Mondrago natural park, an 800 hectare wildlife reserve that includes two fine white sand beaches with crystal clear blue water. This is one of the best areas on the island for snorkelling or scuba diving, who can visit several underwater rock formations. The cliffs, pines, dunes and wetlands of the coast are home to many different bird and animal species, such as the rare large white crane. There is only one resort within the park area itself, which operates the only shop and restaurant – and the park’s policy is to keep it that way to protect the surrounding landscape and wildlife.