Living on the Balearic IslandsIyna Bort Caruso
The Balearic Islands, a cluster in the Mediterranean Sea east of mainland Spain, share sunny days, short winters and a reputation as an enduring destination for affluent second-home owners. Mallorca (also known by the Anglicized name of Majorca), Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera are the four chief islands among the dozens of mostly uninhabited islands and islets in the archipelago that forms an autonomous province of Spain.
Once these islands were targets of privateers and Barbary pirates. Locals abandoned coastal villages and settled inland away from threats of raids and looting. Tourism reversed the course, bringing wealth to the islands and development to the shores.
Mallorca is the largest and most populated of the islands. There’s no shortage of attractions: wineries, some two dozen golf courses, picture-perfect beaches and stunning coves. Its historic capital, a popular cruise ship port, is also the capital of the entire Balearic chain. Towns like Port Andratx, Camp de Mar and Son Vida are home to some of the island’s most affluent holiday-home owners. Strict conservation measures have kept a tight lid on development and the property market stable. Nearly 40 percent of Mallorca is protected.
The island of Ibiza has a global reputation as a clubbing capital. The Mediterranean’s fashionable hotspot puts a priority on fun. But that’s not the whole story.
The other side of Ibiza is its UNESCO World Heritage designation, pine-covered hills, laid-back towns and family-friendly enclaves.
The islands of Menorca and Formentera draw low-key buyers for their slower pace of life and stunning beaches. Diving enthusiasts are drawn to Menorca for its underwater caverns and wrecks. Both islands boast a network of trails for hiking, horseback riding and cycling.
The Balearic property market has historically been a resilient one and well established with international buyers, particularly Germans and British. Among the luxury offerings are seafront villas, exquisite mansions and even refurbished palaces. Those desiring an extra level of space and privacy find it in fincas, or country homes.