Menorca, and the 29 islets that surround it
Menorca is surrounded by small islands and islets of different sizes and characteristics that enrich and give more character to the island, increasing its personality. Do you know how many they are and which ones are the most popular or well-known? Come with us to discover some of them.
The insularity of Menorca is one of the key characteristics when defining it; however, we often forget that there are small islands and islets that surround, protect and safeguard it. In a recent study, 29 islets around the island of Menorca; 20 of them in the Tramontana area and 9 of them in the Migjorn area of the island. Today we will go into the sea to discover some of these rock formations, part of our beloved island.
We are going to start this trip by the sea in the port of Mahón, one of the largest natural ports in the world, and home to several of the islands that we will mention today.
We start with Lazaretto, the largest of the islands that inhabit the port. In the Lazaretto we find an architectural complex that was built around 1793, coming into force in 1817 as facilities for sanitary use that served as a quarantine space for patients who arrived on ships infected with the constant epidemics of the time. Thus passing to occupy the post of pest house that had previously been occupied by the quarantine island, also located in the port of Mahón. The facility ceased to be used for these purposes in 1967 when the last quarantined ship entered the port of Mahón. In 1993 it was declared an asset of cultural interest and right now the island is used to hold meetings, events, and international congresses. The Lazaretto Island has guided tours that allow you to recreate and feel what has lived during the 19th century thanks to all the spaces and constructions that are preserved throughout the islet. A curiosity to also add that in 2021 it was one of the places chosen by the popular television program Masterchef to record one of its episodes.
Located in the innermost part of the port of Mahón we find the Isla del Rey or king's island. Named like this for having been the first place on Menorcan lands that King Alfonso III set foot on when he came to conquer Menorca from the Muslims in 1287. The port of Mahón has always had great importance for the different European powers and the Isla del Rey is the clearest proof of this: in one of the many English dominations, the military hospital that has survived to this day was built, but it was used by the English, French, and Spanish depending on who occupied the island at the time. It also served different navies such as the American, the Dutch, and the Italian. In 1964 it was when the hospital was finally transferred to the center of Mahón and since 2004 the Hospital Foundation of the Isla del Rey has been in charge of its care. as well as organizing visits to the old hospital as well as to the Paleo-Christian Basilica that has been found on the island. To end in 2021, the Hauser & Wirth Menorca provides other cultural entertainment for those who visit the islet.
We are now going to the south coast to visit the Isla del Aire, an islet that has a total area of 34 hectares located in front of Punta Prima beach. This islet is the main habitat of the "black sargantana" a lizard that is only found on the Isla del Aire. Of a characteristic black color, this lizard turns greenish when removed from the islet, which makes it very special at a scientific and biological level. The island is also home to the Isla del Aire lighthouse, which hides a sad story. This lighthouse was built in 1860 due to the multitude of accidents that were chained on the islet, since barely protruded from sea level, it was a nightmare for sailors who navigated its waters. The construction of the lighthouse, therefore, wanted to put an end to the disasters, but even so, during its construction, the boat that was carrying the workers was shipwrecked, and one of the workers drowned. Luckily, with the start-up of the lighthouse, this series of catastrophic misfortunes ended and even today it is one of the favorite places for Menorcans to take a boat trip during good weather.
We are now heading to the north coast. In front of Es Grau is the largest islet in Menorca, illa d'en Colom, with 59 hectares of land. The very separation of 200 meters from Menorca already makes it a refuge that can only be accessed by sea, but it is framed in the Albufera d'es Grau natural park and is protected by UNESCO, which makes it an island. protected, which allows the "black sargantana" to be found there as well.
The island was originally used as a lazaretto provisional in about 1785 receiving the Spanish slaves freed by Algeria as a result of the peace that was established at the time since the number of slaves was greater than the capacity of the quarantine island (currently also known as illa plana).
Illa d'en Colom has two virgin beaches on its west coast, which stand out for their fine sand, more typical of the beaches in the south of Menorca than in the north. It also has two monuments of historical interest such as a basilica and a Paleo-Christian site, as well as two old houses from the time when the island was exploited as an agricultural estate.
And to finish, we bring you a bonus: the island of Sa Creueta. Sa creueta is a very peculiar island within the variety that surrounds Menorca. Located in front of the urbanization of Sa Mesquida, this small island is connected to Menorca through a pedestrian bridge that allows the inhabitants to move from their houses to “land sign". Seeing it and walking across the bridge is one of the lesser-known pleasures of Menorca, do not miss doing it if you ever visit Sa Mesquida.
Now that you know some of these 29 islets that surround Menorca, it's time for you to plan an excursion and visit at least one of them. From those that offer their own visiting programs to those that are only flora and fauna, each one of them will show you a part of Menorca that you did not know.