Palma de Mallorca: Dragon Caves and a Secret Beach
My number one piece of advice if you’re visiting Palma de Mallorca? Rent a small car. My friend and I found a rental place around the corner from our hotel and we were able to rent a car for about 45 euros/day. We were able to rent one with our passports and a credit card. Despite knowing little to no Spanish, we did not have any problem driving. We found the infrastructure around Palma to be great. The city center gets congested but once you get out of the city, it’s beautiful.
Additionally, I’m not a fan of big group tours and given that you can get around Mallorca easily, a car provides a lot more flexibility. For example, the Dragon Caves tour (Cuevas del Drach) costs about 40 euros and is a 6 hour time commitment to do an hour long tour but you can rent a car for the same amount of money, go to the cave for the hour tour and explore the towns and beaches in between.
The Dragon Caves (Cuevas del Drach) offers a handful of ~hour long tours depending on the season. I recommend buying tickets online in advance. There is a cafe on site, and while the food doesn’t look like much, I can honestly say I had one of the best ham sandwiches of my life - who knew?! It’s not an informative tour as you’re simply walking the caves, but the performance by a 4-piece orchestra at the end is magical. The best seat for the orchestra is to the far left (facing the lake). Once everyone is seated, the lights dim and a row boat comes across the lake and plays music. Photos and video are not allowed during the performance, and while it is tempting to capture the moment, I encourage you to resist the urge to sneak a photo or video. Let it be one of those those unique “had to be there” moments that encourages others to travel and experience it for themselves. After the music, guests have the option to take a boat across the lake.
While I wish we had more time to explore Porto Cristo, I had heard about a truly ‘locals only’ beach about a 20 minute drive from the caves. It’s called Cala Varques. There is a parking lot nearby, and then it’s about a 15 minute walk down a gravel road. When you can’t go any further, the real adventure begins. You have to climb two walls (nothing too daunting — I saw young and old do it) and then it’s about a 15-20 minute hike. We were under prepared in terms of realizing the trek and terrain to get to the beach but luckily we packed light.
But eventually, the ground starts to level, you begin to feel a breeze and it becomes completely worth the trouble. While we were there, there was a make-shift bar that sold drinks and some snacks. I’m not sure if that is always the case so I would bring your own refreshments. To be cautionary, I would not order anything that didn’t come in an unopened, sealed bottle. I visited 3 beaches while I was in Mallorca and this was by far the best scene. It was not too crowded, the water was easily accessible (not too rocky), and it was beautiful. My only regret was not having more time to spend here and not being able to swim out to one of those boats for sunset.