The area around the Balearic Islands hides dramatic seascapes, fallen airplanes, shipwrecks, epic cave diving among stalagmite and stalactite formations, green Seagrass, and giant Sea Fans. Giant Groupers, Octopuses, Cuttlefish, great variety of crustaceans, and big pelagic welcome you to the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Located not far from Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Islands can be found in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Archipelago is subdivided into Gymnesian Islands of Majorca, Minorca, and Cabrera, and Pityusic Islands of Ibiza and Formentera.
Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza have international airports accepting regular and charter flights from different destinations as well as from main Spanish airports. Majorca, hosting the capital of the autonomous community, has the best air connection all the year round. A flight to one of the islands usually takes about 1 hour from Barcelona.
If you wish to arrive by sea, you can use ferries and catamarans operated from the port of Barcelona, Dénia, and Valencia. There can be alterations in the schedule in case of bad sea weather especially during the winter months of December-February.
The inter-island connection is provided by ferries or domestic flights. In order to get around the island, you can use either public buses, taxis or hire a car. It might be good to know that many car-rent operators do not allow traveling between the islands in a rented car.
The Balearic Islands offer about 80 dive sites around the main 4 islands with similar seascapes and style of diving. Upon creation of 7 marine reserves around the Islands in the late 1990’s many fish and pelagic has returned to this area. Now dive spots offer a wide range of flora and fauna.
In order to decide on which of the islands to stay, it might be useful to take into consideration land activities and your preferences for privacy. Majorca and Ibiza are the most famous and frequently visited islands of the Archipelago.
There are many complicated cave systems with tunnels, caverns, and underwater cathedrals around the Islands. For visiting these areas you need to have an experience in cave diving and sometimes to use specialized speleo-diving techniques. However, there are many easily accessible spots for those who only start cave diving. Local dive clubs offer specialized cave training packages.
A standard schedule at most of the Balearic dive shop offers several daily trips to the nearby destinations. At some locations, you will be able to make 2 dives with a surface interval and a lunch. Diving is performed from small boats or Zodiacs by entering the water with a giant stride. There are also many areas with shore access to the dive sites.
If you are diving between November and April, a drysuit is highly recommended. For the warmer period, 5mm wetsuit with a hood and gloves will be ok. Even when the water reaches 26-27ºC (78-80ºF) on the surface, you are most likely to come across a much colder thermocline below 10-15m (32-49ft.).
Best Dive Sites Overview
The best diving area of Majorca is located in the northern and north-eastern part of the Island. Menorca features the best dive sites on the northern side. Ibiza has the best diving in southeast and south while Formentera offers good spots in the north-western part.
Big Cheese (Majorca)
This is the most beautiful dive site accessed from the boat on the territory of Cala Ratjada Marine Reserve. Here you will find a huge rock formation submerged by the sea with the maximum depth of 30m (98ft.). There are many tunnels, holes, and crevices in the rock which make it look like a cheese. It is common to meet Nudibranch, Cuttlefish, Octopus, Grouper, Barracuda, Morays, and Scorpionfish here.
Sa Gleda Cave (Majorca)
Sa Gleda Cave discovered in 1974 proudly holds the title of the longest cave system in Europe. The total length of all passes under the water is 10.5km (6.5mi). The maximum depth here is 25m (82ft.). The cave is divided into 5 sectors featuring flooded areas with cameras of air, terrestrial areas, labyrinthine galleries, tunnels, and halls with stalactite and stalagmite formations. This is a reserved marine area requiring special permits which are usually obtained by the dive clubs. Only experienced divers with cave and technical skills are allowed to access the site.
Llosa dels Ocellers (Menorca)
One of the most spectacular dive sites of Menorca is located in the northern part of the Island next to Cavalleria Lighthouse. Here you can explore canyons, small arcs, and tunnels. The maximum depth is 25m (82ft.). Plenty of light and amazing seascapes are usually enjoyed by photographers. It is common to meet huge schools of Barracudas, Giant Groupers, Morays, and Crayfish here.
Illa Tirant (Menorca)
Located to the west of the Bay of Fornells this dive site with the maximum depth of 18m (59ft.) can be accessed by all levels of divers. There is a small canyon with an arc at the depth of 3m (9 ft.) through which you can swim further into the bay to find more canyons and crevices. Marine life is represented by Nudibranchs, Barracudas, Giant Groupers, Octopuses, Seabreams, and Damselfish. It is recommended to take a buoy with you in case you cannot make the way back to the entry point and need to ascend in the Bay. There are plenty of vessels going in and out from the Harbor.
Es racó des Llamp (Menorca)
This is the favorite dive for amateurs of caves. Advanced divers can visit up to 5 caves here with the maximum depth of 18m (59ft.). One of the caves features a tunnel which can take you to the air chamber. The torch is recommended for this dive, so you can take a closer look at Shrimps and Crabs hiding inside. You can also spot Garden Eels on sandy bottom as well as Groupers, Seabream, and Amberjacks.
Don Pedro (Ibiza)
Don Pedro is one of the biggest shipwrecks of the Mediterranean. She used to be a 140m (459ft.) car ferry. While carrying vehicles and other goods she hit the reef Los Dados near Ibiza and sank in 2007 with no victims. Rescue divers had to work several months to get rid of poisonous substances and oil leaks. Now the wreck is located between 23m (75ft.) and 46m (150ft.) which makes it accessible only by experienced and technical divers. One of the most spectacular parts is 8m (26ft.) tall propeller. Penetration is not possible as all entry pointed were sealed for safety reasons.
La Aquja d’es Vedra (Ibiza)
Located in the south-western part of Sa Bestorre region, this dive site represents a pinnacle rising from 40m (131ft.) up to 3m (9ft.). Here you will find small caves, passages, and swim-throughs. This area is covered with Anemones, Sponges, and Moss Animals. Local dive shops recommend looking around for various crustaceans, Groupers, Scorpionfish, and Wrasse here.
The Mariana Platform (Formentera)
This dive site can be accessed either from Formentera or from Ibiza. She used to be a huge metallic construction built as a fishing farm for breeding Seabream. The platform was abandoned in the early 1990’s and after several storms, she sank in 1996. Now the wreck lies on a sandy bottom surrounded by seagrass. She has become a beautiful artificial reef providing shelter to a large number of inhabitants like Crayfish, Lobsters, Groupers, Barracudas, and Crayfish. The depth ranges between 11-33m (36-108ft.).
Best Dive Season
The period between June and September is the best time for diving in the Balearic Islands with the warmest water temperature, the best visibility, and calm sea.
Though it is possible to dive all the year through at the Islands, some of the dive sites may not be accessible during the months of December-February due to strong winds and waves. Some of the dive shops and resorts cease their operations during this period.
The water temperature can be as low as 13ºC (55ºF) in January and 25-26ºC (77-78ºF) in August. The visibility stays around 15-30m (49-98ft.) with the best visibility of 50m (164ft.) during the warmest months especially in the area around the Island of Cabrera.
There can be medium currents in some areas which are located in deeper waters.
Posidonia Oceanica, also known as Seagrass, is one of the most important components of the unique biosphere around the Balearic Islands. Seaweed, Anemones, and Sea Fans cover the rocky formations attracting and providing shelter for fish and critters.
There are several species of Wrasse found at the Islands as well as Anthias, Lizardfish, Pipefish, Triggerfish, Gobies, Nudibranchs, Octopuses, Squid, Cuttlefish, and Seahorses. The most common representatives of crustaceans are Hermit Crab, Lobster, Spider Crab, Spiny Lobster, Squad Lobster, Slipper Lobster, and various species of Shrimps.
Pelagic is represented by Giant Groupers, Tuna, Barracuda, and Amberjacks. Occasionally, you can come across Loggerhead Turtle which inhabits the Islands.
Shark fauna around the Balearic Islands includes 38 species of rays and 47 species of sharks. It is common to see Stingrays and Torpedo Rays while other representatives of this family are rarely seen. Shark fin consumption stimulates fishing industry while significantly reducing the shark population in the region. Between 1920’s and late 1980’s there were about 30 cases of capturing or encounters with the Great White Shark here. Nevertheless, since1990’s none of such cases was registered.
Dive shops are usually not integrated with hotels or resorts at the Balearic Islands. You can stay in the nearby accommodation close to the chosen dive club or check with them the possibility of a pick-up and drop-off service. Another option is to rent a car and leave it near the dive shop while diving.
Holiday home Colonia de Sant Pere (Majorca)
If you wish more privacy then this beachfront Holiday Home on Majorca with 4 bedrooms accommodating up to 8 guests might be a perfect choice for you. It is located in Colonia de Sant Pere. The house comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, a fireplace, a year-round pool, and a free on-site parking.
Barceló Formentor (Majorca)
This Resort is located near Formentor Bay on Majorca. There are various Rooms and Suites to choose from, each with an A/C, private bathrooms, slippers, and bathrobes. The facilities of the Resort feature several restaurants, 2 pools, wellness center, and games room. WiFi is provided for free in all areas.
Carema Club Playa & Aldea Playa Aparthotel (Menorca)
This 4-star Resort features various apartments. There is a direct access to Cala Tirant beach. Each apartment is equipped with a kitchenette and a balcony or a terrace. You can enjoy a buffet restaurant, evening animation, and playing tennis on site. Diving Menorca Club is located on the beach next to the Resort.
PortBlue Salgar Hotel (Menorca)
Located in S’Algar near Cala de Alcaufar, this 4-star Hotel offers Double, Twin, and Suite Rooms. You will find a snack bar, a restaurant, Spa, a tennis court, and a gym on its territory. The Hotel operates between April and October. The nearest dive club is S’Algar Diving.
Hard Rock Hotel (Ibiza)
This is a modern luxury hotel located near Playa d’en Bossa. It is famous for its open-air stage with weekly live music. All guests of the hotel have free access to these events. You can relax in 2 pools, a Spa, in a gym, and in a private beach club. There are 2 restaurants and several bars located on site. Scuba Xtreme Club is the nearest one to this accommodation.
Villa Ginger (Ibiza)
This is a luxury 3-bedroom modern Villa located in Sant Francesc de s’Estany. It can accommodate up to 6 guests. The Villa comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, a private pool, a large open-air patio, and dining area. Free parking and free WiFi are included in the price. Diving services can be ordered from the nearby Scuba Xtreme Club.
Casitas Rurales Ca’s Carabiners – Formentera Mar (Formentera)
The Resort is located next to Ses Salines Nature Reserve. You can choose to stay in Studio for 2 guests, Bungalow for 5 guests or Family Bungalow which can accommodate up to 7 persons. Each Room has a kitchen and a terrace. Blue Adventure Dive Club is the nearest dive shop to this accommodation.
Currently, there are no specialized diving liveaboards at the Balearic Islands. Nevertheless, some of the operators offer yachts for private charters.
This yacht is offered by Sedna Sail & Dive which is an authorized diving center. The vessel is 15m (49ft.) long and she can accommodate up to 10 guests in 5 Cabins. There are 3 shared bathrooms aboard as well as a lounge and a kitchen area. There is a Zodiac and kayaks attached to the vessel. The yacht has diving facilities and it covers the main diving destinations at the Balearic Islands.
Ibiza Cruise Diving Boat
This is another operator offering private charters on a 36m (118ft.) long sailing wooden vessel. There are 8 cabins aboard. The guests can use kayaks and paddle surf. To access the dive sites there is an auxiliary boat Jennau Cap Camarat 850. The vessel usually operates between the dive sites of Ibiza and Formentera.
Other Activities For Non-Divers
There are many places to snorkel around the Balearic Islands. You can either snorkel on your own at one of the bays or join daily trips organized by one of the dive clubs. Sometimes Jellyfish arrive in the region that is why it is recommended to use a wetsuit for protection.
There are many site-seeing activities which you can enjoy around the Balearic Islands. The biggest islands of Majorca and Menorca also offer a great variety of water parks, aqua centers, and animal parks and zoos. Fishing tours are very popular and you can try Squid fishing, bottom fishing, big game trolling, and fishing big deep with chumming.