If you are reading this, then you are already onto one of the Mediterranean’s best kept secrets – the beautiful island of Formentera. The smallest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Formentera is just 32 square miles in area, but has everything from pristine white beaches, through to dramatic cliffs and acres of peaceful countryside.
This site provides plenty of information about the island. We also publish a Formentera guide book for your travels. We are proud of having made it more practical than the average guide, and you can take a look inside by clicking here.
What distinguishes Formentera from the other Balearics is the great job it has done of preserving its natural beauty. This has been achieved through a number of initiatives, including a dune regeneration programme, resistance to tarmac on the roads, building restrictions, and encouraging tourists to use bikes. Even though Formentera is next to the booming party destination of Ibiza, and the major tourist island of Mallorca, it feels like a remote destination. Without an airport it takes that extra bit of effort to get there, and this has helped the island maintain its heritage.
In 2009 Estrella Damm launched a beer commercial that featured Formentera. Well, more than that, it made the island the star of its entire marketing campaign. You can see the video for yourself below. Last summer people were literally walking off the ferry humming the theme tune. The commercial does a great job of capturing the spirit that exists amongst a lot of the young people that visit. But this is just one side of Formentera, and there are all sorts of visitors to the island, including plenty of families, older visitors, hardcore water sports enthusiasts, recovering hippies, and a dedicated band of naturists.
The geography of the island is quite unique and has created a very diverse landscape. Cap de Barbaria is the island’s western plateau, and at the eastern tip is Far de la Mola, which is the second plateau. These two areas of highland are connected by a narrow strip of land which is surrounded by white beaches and dunes on either side. From each of the plateaus you can enjoy dramatic views back across the island. Formentera also has the northern finger of Es Trucadors, which gets steadily narrower as it reaches up to the neighboring island of Espalmador. As it gets closer to Espalmador it just becomes a strip of white sand beach with the ocean on either side. There are few better beaches anywhere in the world.
Something that deserves a special mention in the emblem of the island: Podarcis pityusensis. This is the only lizard native to Formentera, and there are over 30 sub-species on the island, with slightly different colorings depending on where they are from. For example, the lizards of La Mola are large and blue-green, whereas the lizards of Can Marroig are thinner and brown-grey. The lizard is known by the locals as sargantana, and it is a rare holiday maker indeed who does not come home with at least one t-shirt or ceramic piece with one of these cute reptiles emblazoned on it. You will see them everywhere, darting out of rock walls, scurrying across the dunes, and hiding amongst the rosemary and thistle that is scattered throughout the island.
One of the best things about Formentera is the 20 Circuits Verds, or Green Tours. These are designated and signposted cycling and hiking trails that take you off the beaten path to some of the island’s most beautiful spots. Our guide book reviews every one of them.
Even if you haven’t used a bike for a few years it’s worth getting back in the saddle, and there is enough variety to satisfy even the seasoned cyclist. Racing bikes can head from Far de Barbaria to Far de la Mola in a few hours, and mountain bikes can explore off-road tracks that run through nature parks, farmland, beaches, and towns. By linking up the villages, cycle routes and beaches you can plan some wonderful day trips on Formentera. It is always worth taking a picnic with you as there are many spots to pause and relax.
There is barely a road on the island that doesn’t have cycle paths, but it is the designated Circuits Verds that you will be spending most of your time on. However, one of the frustrating things about these courses is that the starting points can be difficult to find. There is a tendency to have the entrances unmarked, and then one kilometre into the trail there is a signpost letting you know that you have indeed guessed the correct entrance. Another problem is when you reach forks in the road and there is no indication which way you should go. Although getting lost in rural Formentera can actually turn up some interesting finds, in the guide book we have taken photos of the entrances where the signposts are missing, and have tried to be as explicit as possible about how to follow the actual trails. If you take a compass with you and print out the relevant page from the Formentera guide book then you should be fine.
Formentera Fast Facts
- Formentera is just 12 miles (19 km) long from its east to west coast, and has a total area of 32 square miles (82 sq km)
- It is one of 50 islands known as the Pitiusas (Pine Islands), and sits south west of Mallorca.
- It is also classified as one of the Islas Baleares (Balearic Islands), an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
- The four largest Balearic islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The archipelago is an autonomous community and a province of Spain, the capital of which is Mallorca’s Palma.
- Formentera is surrounded by a number of offshore islands and the Ses Salines Natural Park which consists of 2,000 acres (810ha) of coastal waters and wetland. The island’s salt lagoons of Estany Pudent and Estany de Peix form part of this park.
- There are over 200 species of bird around the Ses Salines Natural Park. It attracts flamingos, stalks and herons. Other birds sighted on Formentera and offshore islands include Eleanora’s falcon, warblers, ospreys, gulls, cormorants, and black-necked grebes.
- The Ses Salines Natural Park is home to the underwater Oceanic Posidonia. These plants bear fruit and live as deep as 131 feet (40 metres).
- The Mediterranean climate sees highs of up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) in August, and lows of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) from November to April. A cooling breeze keeps the summers comfortable, although a dry wind does sometimes blow in from Africa (the leveche) which can heat things up.
- There is plenty of sunshine on the island, with 10 hours a day from May to September, and even five hours during the winter period. There is little rain on the island, and October tends to be the wettest month with up to three inches (77mm) of rainfall.
- For swimmers Formentera offers a warm sea that ranges from 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) in February, through to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in August.
- The winter winds tend to erode the island’s soil so vines, figs and some herbs are the most common plant life.
- The seas have a wide stock of fish, and visitors enjoy plentiful tuna, barracuda, lobster, grouper and amberjack. Further out the seas are home to dolphins, sharks and turtles.
- The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan.