Famous French female author George Sand stayed at a northern Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana monastery in the 1840s with her Polish composer lover Frèdèric Chopin and penned the autobiographical novel , A Winter in Mallorca in 1842. The ill Chopin died at 39 in 1849 in Paris and bronze busts of them stands in the Catholic church gardens in Valldemossa.
I spent my winter on Mallorca on the Bay of Rays − Cala Ratjada − the easternmost town on the island on a peninsular thumb resembling a stubby Mallorcan bontiferrones sausage. The local tourism slogan for the town and bay of rays is “First Light Mallorca”.
The 700 year old Capdepera Castle.
St. Antoni festival fires up at the Castle.
The first festival of the year is the island-wide St. Antoni festa in January,; the four day event kicks off near Cala Ratjada at the capital city of the district, the 700 year old fortified town of Capdepera. The looming castle overlooks the medieval market where the festival begins with huge bonfires in the street, with costumed devils dancing in the square, and generous libations of Yabba, a distilled concoction from local plants tha tastes like d Jagermeister. Salud. Everyone wears white shirts with a red devil on the back and red neckerchief to ward off the demons called deomonis.
The four day festival ends on Saturday night in Cala Ratjada. I met up with German friends; Jens packed a ruck sack of Yabba and he was the designated walking bartender, pouring shots into glasses we hung around our necks with lanyards. Restaurant row along the port promenade set out pans of sausages and ham that we self-roasted over temporary grills as bonfires warmed our buns under a full moon. Later we danced off the Yabba at a local disco far into the night.
Capdepera Castle sees many festival year around.
The origins of the town of Capdepera are found in the castle. From there a network of streets stretches out in a long, narrow band, hemmed in on one side by the mountain ridge of Saes Penves.
When the citizens of Capdepera began to leave the protection of the castle they set up homes on the southside of the hill where the King’s Road starts. There are old ruins in the area and around the square called Placa Vella. The town expanded in the 19th century and Placa del Sitiar was created, along with the main road Carrer Major down to the square of Se Creu. This area is the suburbs of the tiny town. The district of Vila-roja is where the farmers settled. Cala Ratjada was known as Villanova, where immigrants resided around Placa de lÓrient.
It is worthwhile to spend a sunny day at the castle, to dine at the restaurants, tour the narrow medieval streets, visit the old apothecary store, shoot selfies at the Renaissance house Ca Mado Patrona, or cycle the numerous trails in the hill town. There is a tourist information center in the castle.
The castle was built with pedestrian only streets, sharp corners, and albarrana advanced defense towers with arrow slits, to ward off the numerous invaders: Arab, Turks, Venetians, Phoenicians., and Barbary pirates Rome even had a garrison billeted in the area and ruins can be found while hiking.
The latest invaders to the area are retired expat Germans, and in the summer swarms of young German sunseekers. Most hotels are closed in winter in Cala Ratjada. There are so many Germans that the tourism brochures are printed in Spanish and German. There are German schools, markets, and tours.
OUTDOOR and SPORTS ACTIVITIES
SURFING, KITESURFING, WAKEBOARDING
Surfin on Aguila Beach, largest in Cala Ratjada.
There are no tides in the Med, but strong winds generate a respectable surf lines in the coaguillaves or calas around Cala Ratjada, most notable is Cala Aguila (eagle) on the north side of town where sandy beaches also attract beachcombers, joggers, and dog walkers.
There are no surf gear shops in Cala Ratjada, but Kitesurf is located in the historic town of Alcúdia 30 km away; Apart Sport is located in Cala dÓr. Beach gear shops open in the summer in Cala Ratjada and they sell swimming suits, snorkel gear, sunglasses, sunscreen and other items. A rubber-tired mini train runs in the summer on a set timetable from Cala Aguila to other beaches in Cala Ratjada.
HIKING, CLIMBING, CANYONEERING, MOUNTAINEERING
Hike the trails around Capdepera Castle.
Tim, right, of Tim’s Tours,leads hikes.
My favorite hiking trail from Cala Ratjada is through the pine forests and along the ridge line of clawing aromatic cypress trees along the way to the old lighthouse ruins overlooking the new lighthouse.
There are over 20 hiking trails in and around Cala Ratjada and the Arta Mountains to the north; the best way to discover them is with Timś Tours (www.timstours.com). Tim speaks German, English, and Spanish and can customize any type of hike or climb across the entire island; he lives in Cala Ratjada. I went on a moderate hike with him in the Massis dÁrta where we say eagles and hawks in the nature preserve. Another of my favorite hikes is along Cala Aguila over the mountains to Cala Mesquida; a 13km self-guided scramble past an old sentry watch tower with arrow guide posts directing the way
The ascent to the mountain of Es Telegrafo to the old watch tower Atalaya de Son Jaumell is more challenging and you should be in fairly fit condition and equipped with the appropriate footwear . Other demanding excursions include Canyamel watch tower or walk along the Via Verde.
Cala Ratjada has numerous forest parklands within the city; I like the walks to the Mallorcan market through the wind-twisted pine groves, and the promenade walks from Port Cala Ratjada to Cala Gat, a hidden cove with a solid watch tower with arrow slits.
CYCLING, BIKE TOURS
A bike portage on the Mesquida to Cala Ratjada track.
Cala Ratjada is an easy walking and biking town but hilly; mountain bikes prevail, sharing many of the trails with hikers. Shulz and Junior bike rental is open year around, sporadically in winter, and the two locations rent eBikes, mountain biker , and motos, or motor scooters. You need your passport and a €100 deposit for most rentals.
Dozens of bike rental shops open in summer. Mallorca Bike Tours offers island-wide cycling tours. You can self-guide a mountain bike tour from Cala Ratjada along coastal or mountain routes, even in town. Capdepera district has many specially designed mountain bike routes that follow backroads and tracks that allow you to reach hard to find places, such as Cala Torta, Via Verde to the Tavayotic settlement of Ses Paisses in Arta, Cala Estreta, the heritage of Betlem, Punta des Cala, Sant Llorenc Son Servera, or Canyamel.
The Via Verde runs along the former railroad bed from Arta to Manacor. Pedal the 23km route along fields of cropland and forests of woodland. This is an easy level route. Via Verde is in Arta municipality, but close to Cala Ratjada.
For more info on cycling Mallorca:
Federació de Ciclisme de las Illes Balears provides contact info for cycling clubs, cycle routes, registration for events, documentation and licenses. Many hotels cater to cyclist, with garages for bikes, and restaurants with energy packed menus. https://www.webfcib.es/
Segway tours, SegPark, www.segpark.es
GOLF and TENNIS
Golf on world class courses in the Capdepera region.
Mallorca’s Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for golf and tennis. There are four golf courses in Capdepera province: Canyamel, Roca Viva, Son Servera, and Pula Golf. All course are well maintained and close to Cala Ratjada.
For more golf information:
Golf in the North Eastern region of Mallorca, including Capdepera:
If you prefer rackets there are 80 clay and cement courts. In summer many of the hotels offer their courts to guests. The Tennis Club Bella Playa in Cala Ratjada has tennis courts, a fitness center, pool, spa, hotel family rooms, and restaurant. The Yumar Tennis Academy is located near the sea in Cala Ratjada. Phone: 659 86 62 59.
Tennis resorts abound in Cala Ratjada.
SCUBA DIVING / SNORKELING / KAYAKING
Dive centers service snorkelers and scuba diver.
Mero Diving is the largest diving operation in Cala Ratjada, located at Cala Literas, a spur cove of Cala Aquila. Mero Diving has tours, expertise, and equipment for snorkeling diving, kayaking and other watersports. Mero Diving has dive boats that take you to many pristine spots along the coast.
Mallorca Dive and Fun is a German operator located in Font de Son Cala, near Cala Ratjada. The operator provide diving tours and gear, speedboats, and even sea cave exploring.
Mullet dry on the line for smoking by Rudi.
Surf casting on Aguila Beach.
Rudi is well known in the Cala Ratjada German community. The 88-year-old mullet fisherman catches a full stringer in the Alcúdia area 30 kms away; later he smokes them and parcels the fillets out to his neighbors.
Surf fishing is big in Cala Ratjada, and all over the island. There is an annual lobster season in the clear Med waters. In May, Cala Ratjada has an annual fair dedicated to the locally caught dolphinfish, called llampuga, with the fish grilled in the streets. The cervesa flows.
A fishing license is required in Mallorca for anyone of 14 years or over. However, any chartered fishing trips will be covered by a ‘collective’ or ‘boat’ license thus you will not need to purchase a license yourself.; no license required for those under 14.
There are 5 types of Majorca fishing licenses available for recreational purposes:
Individual – any individual aged 14 years or over (includes inland coastal waters from the shore, or floating device e.g. kayak, pedal boats, etc.) This is the most popular license.
Collective – up to 12 people
Submarine – scuba or snorkeling, usually with a spear gun
Sport – for competition and tournaments, this license is free
Boat – maximum of 5 people
License Costs and Restrictions:
Individual license costs are about €25 for a plastic card delivered by postal service, or a paper license (PDF download) costs about €15 and can be printed from your own computer. Both types of license can be applied for online via the CAIB website. Each lasts for 2 years and allows you to take home up to 5 kg of your catch, subject to per species length and, sometimes, weight restriction. You are allowed up to 2 rods and a total of 6 hooks.
There is no fishing allowed in any of the harbors in Mallorca or any other Balearic island. You must not fish within 250 meters of professional fishing boats or within 100 meters of other shore users (i.e. sun bathers, swimmers, etc.). You are not allowed to use attraction lights on your rig. In Mallorca, your license will be restricted to 1 of 11 different areas. You must select the area you want to fish during the license application process.
Previously, licenses could only be obtained in person from the Director General of Fishing (Dirección General de Pesca) at C/ dels Foners, 10 – 07006 Palma, or from Conselleria of Agriculture and Fishing (Conselleria de Agricultura y Pesca) in Campos, Felanitx, Manacor, Inca, Sa Pobla and Soller. However, you can also now apply for either the plastic card or paper license online here, at the CAIB. website. In order to get a license you will need to provide some form of photo identification. For Spanish residents this can be your DNI or NIE, for tourists your passport is accepted. Your fishing license will make reference to your DNI, NIE or passport. When you are fishing you must carry both your license and the ID you used to obtain the license.
Timś Tours not only provides van supported hiking excursions but van road trips island-wide from Cala Ratjada for small groups. Tim also makes airport service to Palma.
A great road adventure in the summer months is with Bugs Buggy Tours based in Cala Ratjada. Drive your own ATV dune buggy following a guide along the backroads of the island. They speak Spanish and German.
. About 15 kms from Cala Ratjada in the small coastal town of Can Picafort is Karting Can Picafort. The all ages karting track is a harden cement track dedicated to karting only on the largest track in Mallorca.
In Cala Millor Claudiś Triketours offers open air adventures on several itineraries with an experienced guide. The motorized three wheel trikes takes you places seldom seen by tourists. Most tours are over 100 kms in length.
Formula Tours is based out of Palma and offers four different routes in high performance formula type cars that seat two. Tours routes are coastal and mountain circuits.
BOATING / YACHTING / SAILING / CHARTERS
The Cala Ratjada port is a full service marina.
The town of Cala Ratjada is named after the cove that surrounds the Cala Ratjada Marina. The full service marina offers many opportunities for boating, but mostly in the summer unless renting a charter. Mallorca Yachting offers catamaran and sailboat excursions along the beautiful coastal waters. Contact them at 34 607 83 28 37.
The ticket office is on the pier for Illa Balear glass bottom boat excursions. The two boats offer submersive vision areas to see fish and reef coral. They ply the Green Coast and to Pirate Cay. Contact them at 971 810 600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Get a copy of the free Harbour and Marina Guide published annually by Tallers de Moll; available at marinas and tourist offices in Mallorca.
Sailing is big business in Mallorca. Contact the Federación de Balear Vela, Balearic Sailing Federation, 971 40 24 12. They can navigate your to sailing charters along the coast from Palma to Cala Ratjada. For sea kayaking routes and education contact Federación de Balear Palagürismo, which lists kayaking clubs on the island. www.fibp.org
There are 4 marine reserves around Mallorca which are marked by large white posts along the coast. You are allowed to fish the reserves in places, at certain times of the year and on specific days of the week. A booklet is given out when you get your license explaining where the marine reserves are located and the restrictions. Each reserve may also have restrictions regarding the maximum size of hook you can use, the number of lines, etc. Licenses are only available for sea fishing .
Pleasure cruisers anchor in coces around Cala Ratjada.
Riders file past Aquila Beach on their way from the mountains.
Take a slow ride through the mountains around Cala Ratjada by horse back, following the hiker and biker trails, and even a beach ride/ I almost expect Hoss and Little Joe to show up at the largest equestrian center in Cala Ratjada, Rancho Bonanza. They have horses and ponies of all sizes with tame rides guided by experienced guides. They fit saddles and helmets, too. Rancho Bonanza is open year around.
Address: Carrer Can Patilla, 07590 Cala Ratjada, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 619 68 06 88
Rancho Cala Mesquida is a riding center over the pass from Cala Ratjada. The area mostly services German condo owners.
Address: Carrer des Rap, 07589 Cala Mesquida, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 678 54 87 82
Hípico Cala Ratjada Eddi’s Reitstall is also a large, full service equestrian center in Cala Ratjada with all the equipment and expertise., and if open year around.
Address: Carretera a Capdepera, s/n, 07590 Cala Ratjada, Islas Baleares, Spain
Phone: +34 626 83 03 99
MERCADOS / MARKETS
The Sabado (Saturday) Mercado has everything from local growers.
There are four markets open in winter in Cala Ratjada. My favorite is the open air Sabado Market in the plaza near tee port The once a week market vendors bring fresh produce from the fincas or farms in the area. It was the only place I found almond honey. There are vendors for hats, leather goods, jewelry, shoes and more. A great place to work on your Spanish vocabulary. Two blocks away is the Mallorca Market, an indoor market open Monday thru Saturday with fresh produce from the area. Bring a bottle because they sell wine by the liter from a huge barrel. Across the street from this market is the German Muni Market with imports from Germany to satisfy the local Aleman population. Somewhat pricey, but a great spot for chocolate. The main market in town is Eroski, which recently was renovated and expanded. It is open seven days a week. It has fish, meat, and bakery departments. Spar Supermarkets has numerous locations around ton, all only open for summer.
GETTING TO CALA RATJADA
The serene Cala Gat is near the Cala Ratjada marina.
The 411 Expressway from Palma is the bus route to Cala Ratjada. In the winter there is a bus switch at Manacor, second largest city in Mallorca, and the highway peels off to a two lane. The one way fare is about €11; pay the driver. The Palma bus station is shared with the train station at Plaza España where taxi stands service Palma and the airport. There are car rentals in Palma and Cala Ratjada open year around. Uber and Lyft ride sharing is illegal in Mallorca. The €5 city bus #1 serves the airport from Plaza España. The bus to Cala Ratjada the bus runs many times daily from Palma and stops across the street from the local government building which has brochures on the ground level and a library upstairs The official tourism office is in a plaza near the port, but is not open in winter.
For more info on bus and train schedule around Mallorca visit https://www.tib.org/en/web/ctm
WHERE TO STAY IN CALA RATJADA
Cala Ratjada is a resort town . . . in the summer. There is a huge hotel zone near everything. Summer prices of course shoot up faster than the humidity. Winter is the quiet season and few tourist venture to the town. The best way to holiday in winter is by renting a flat. Jen Jenssen, who speaks English, Spanish, and German, rents out about 10 flats. I rented a modern flat from Jens with a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and energy was included. There was a great rooftop sundeck overlooking Cala Aguila with views of Menorca in the distance. The flat was an easy walk to anywhere in town. Hiking was out the door. Walk the promenade to Cala Aquila, the largest beach in town.
The Cala Ratjada Tourism Office website has links to all the hotels in town. There are also a few Airbnb hosts in the area.
Agroturismo en Mallorca, www.agroturismoenmallorca.com
Associacio Agroturismo Balear, www.rusticbooking.com
Finca Mallorca, www.fincamallorca.de
Fincas 4 Your, www.fincas4you.com
Mallorca Farmhouses, www.mfh.co.uk
Rustic Rent, www.rusticrent.com
Secret Places, www.secretplaces.com
Top Rural, www.TopRural.com