Ses Salines is an ecologically unique region of Majorca, a remote coastline on the south-east of the island known for its many fine white-sand beaches. Much of the coast is protected as wildlife reserves, and the beaches are fringed by pine trees that provide shade and shelter for beach lovers. The inland landscape is mostly agricultural, and dotted with windmills that once pumped fresh water for the crops grown here. The area remains one of the most undeveloped in Majorca, and provides a perspective of the authentic ways of life on the island.
The regional capital of Ses Salines is a spacious and modern town a few kilometres inland. The spire of its elegant parish church, Sant Bartomeu, has for centuries served as a reference point for fishermen working along the coast. The name of the town is derived from the Latin word for “salt”, a reference to the nearby marshes and lakes that have been a source of salt since before Roman times. The production of salt was once the major industry of the region, and Ses Salines remains a source of the exclusive “flor de sal” sea-salt prized by gourmets.
The coastal town of Colònia de Sant Jordi is the most popular beach resort in this region, set on a rocky peninsula surrounded by several of the most beautiful beaches on Majorca. The beach of Sa Platja des Port beside the town’s marina and fishing port is the most developed, and offers swimming, sailing and snorkelling just a few hundred metres of the town centre. There are many excellent restaurants here, and the local sea-food is famous throughout Majorca.
North of the town, the beaches at Ets Estanys and Es Trenc form the front of the nearby salt flats – an area where the light from the marshes and the sea create an especially scenic landscape with several plant species found nowhere else on Majorca. The salt ponds used for the production of “flor de sal” stretch inland for several kilometres, and are coloured red and orange by micro-organisms in the water that have adapted to the briny environment. These micro-organisms form the base of a food chain that brings many wading birds to the area, such as stilts, redshanks, ospreys and spoonbills. More than 150 bird species have been recorded in this region, and Ses Salines is renowned as one of the most famous bird-watching areas in Spain.
The beaches at Es Carbó and Ses Roquetes, south of Colònia de Sant Jordi, form one of the most unspoiled sections of this coast, a region of calm crystal-clear water stretching south to the island of Cabrera. It takes about half an hour to walk here from the town, and these beaches makes a good alternative to Ets Estanys and Es Trenc in the crowded peak season. The nearby Finca Sa Valle estate features an botanical garden with an impressive collection of many types of cactus.
The island of Cabrera lies about 10 kilometres south of the Ses Salines coast, and can be reached by scheduled boat tours that leave from Colònia de Sant Jordi each day. The island and its surrounding waters are protected as a natural park, and are especially popular with divers, snorkellers and birdwatchers. Cabrera is heavily forested, and visitors can walk in the shade to a medieval fortress and religious hermitage on the island, and to the lighthouse on its highest point.