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The Balearic Islands of Spain

Updated on November 8, 2013
Hacienda Naxamena resort on the island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands
Hacienda Naxamena resort on the island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands | Source
The Balearic Islands of Spain off the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula in the western Mediterranean Sea.
The Balearic Islands of Spain off the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula in the western Mediterranean Sea. | Source
The four main Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Menorca. Ibiza, and Formentera
The four main Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Menorca. Ibiza, and Formentera | Source
Ensaimada pastry rolls made and eaten on the Balearic Islands.
Ensaimada pastry rolls made and eaten on the Balearic Islands. | Source
Caldereta, lobster stew, is one of the favorite dishes served on the Balearic Islands.
Caldereta, lobster stew, is one of the favorite dishes served on the Balearic Islands. | Source
Rafael Nadal, Spain's number one professional tennis player,  is from Manacar, (one of the smaller)  Balearic Islands, Spain.
Rafael Nadal, Spain's number one professional tennis player, is from Manacar, (one of the smaller) Balearic Islands, Spain. | Source

The Balearic Islands

Idyllic islands nestled together in the western Mediterranean sea are the Balearic Islands of Spain. All of the islands, major ones and minor ones, are islands of paradise. The weather is temperate and summer weather all year round with temperatures reaching no higher than approximately 86 degrees F (24 degrees C). These islands are the tourist destinations of many living on the European continent.

The Balearic Islands, Islas Baleares in Spanish, are an archipelago of Spain. They are located off the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula just east of the Catalonian ( Catalan) region of Spain. They are easily accessible by plane, cruise ship or private sail boat or yacht.

The four largest islands are:

  • Mallorca (Majorca)
  • Menorca (Minorca
  • Ibiza (Eivissa)
  • Formentera

These four major islands are the major tourist attractions and destinations of people from all over the world to lay on the idyllic beaches found on all four islands. There are also many tiny islands in this archipelago and one of note is Cabrera which is the location of a popular national park, Parc Nacional de l'Arxipelag de Cabrera.

Each island has it's own towns and historical sections, but the capital city of the Balearic Islands is Palma de Mallorca on the island of Mallorca, the largest of the islands. It is a busy,bustling capital city but one can escape to the one of the beautiful beaches on the coastlines of the island.

The languages spoken on the islands are Spanish, which is the official language of the Balearic Islands, and Catalan, which is spoken by the natives as their first language. Signs all over the islands are in Spanish and Catalan. This is because the islands sit right off the coast of the region of Catalan in Spain.

The Balearic islands form an autonomous community and its own province of Spain and the Statute of Autonomy declares the Belearic Islands as one nationality of Spain. Figure that one out.

The islands were once known as the Gymnesiae islands, Gymnesiae being the Greek word for naked, because early inhabitants of the island often were nude because of the year found warm climate. Today, nude beaches are found among all four islands, however when off the beach, people are fully clothed.

There are many legends told today of the ancient peoples of the islands living nude on the islands until conquered by the Phoenicians. Then, they became clothed people.

Greek and Roman writers of the period believed that Balearic came from the ancient peoples who were skilled as slingers, called baleareis, which in Greek means to launch. The ancient peoples of this islands, used sling shots to defend their islands from invaders.

Also, some historians believe that the name of the islands is Phoenician as the root of the word, 'bal' is Phoenician and during ancient times the inhabitants believed in the sacred god, BAAL.

During Roman rule of the islands, the Romans named them Hispania Balearica and this name stuck through time.

The two largest islands, Mallorca and Menorca, have excellent harbors and very fertile land that produces much wine, olive oil, cattle, and rabbits. Interestingly, these islands are also free from all venomous reptiles. And, snails, cavaticae, bred in caves on the islands, was once a delicacy of the Romans who owned the islands for a time.

Snails remain part of the cuisine found on the Balearic Islands. Today, those living on the islands follow a Catalan, Spanish, and Mediterranean diet which is quite healthy. They eat bread, cheese, wine, pork and seafood. Sabrassada is a local pork sausage made on the islands. Lobster stew from Menorca is a favorite on the islands. And mayonnaise is said to have originated from Menorcan city of Mao which also produces its own town cheese.

Local pasteries consumed are Ensaimada, a type of sweet roll, flao and coca. Although the islands have a shared cuisine, each island has its own beauty, cities and history,

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain.
Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain. | Source
Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands.
Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands. | Source
Le Seu Cathedral in Palma, Mallorca.
Le Seu Cathedral in Palma, Mallorca. | Source
Castillo de Bellver, on a hill near Palma, Mallorca
Castillo de Bellver, on a hill near Palma, Mallorca | Source
The monastery of Valldemossa, Mallorca, now rental accommodations.
The monastery of Valldemossa, Mallorca, now rental accommodations. | Source

Mallorca (Majorca)

As mentioned before, Mallorca is the largest of the islands and the capital city of all the islands, Palma, is located on this island. Besides the gorgeous beaches along the coastlines, there is much to see and do in this busy capital city.

One of the main focal points in Palma is La Seu, the huge, vast cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi and decorated inside by contemporary artist Miquel Barcelo. It was constructed from 1300-1601 and is the major architectural landmark on the island.

Opposite the cathedral rests the Palau de l'Almudaina which was originally an Islamic fort but has been converted to a residence at the end of the 13th century for the Mallorcan monarchs. It is still used for official functions today whenever present King Juan Carlos visits the island.

The Real Cartiya de Valldemossa is a grand monastery that has been turned into rental accommodations for natives and tourists after the monks were expelled ages ago.

The Castillo de Bellver, is a 14th century circular castle with a unique round tower that sits atop a hill. The panoramic view of Palma and Mallorca are spectacular from here. James II of Spain ordered it built. He was the son of James I of Aragon who conquered the Balearic Islands for Spain in 1229.

For those that like wildlife and hiking, there is the Parc Natural de S'Albufera which has protected wetlands located south of Port d'Alcudia on the island. Here is a birdwatcher's paradise with more than 300 different species of birds spotted year round.

Writer Robert Graves had a house built here on Mallorca in 1932, Casa Robert Graves, and seeing it gives interesting insight into his life and writings. It was an idyllic place to write.

And, not to be missed, is Es Baluad, a contemporary art gallery that houses some of the works of Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, and Miquel Barcelo, all important modern Spanish artists.

Mallorca is the popular vacation destination for many Europeans from Germany, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the UK. Also, this is the island where the Spanish Royal family vacations.

Of course, the best places on Mallorca are the resorts and beaches which offer tranquility and clear, transparent waters, and a complete Spanish paradise.

The beauty of the Island of Mallorca.

Mallorca
Mallorca | Source
Mallorca
Mallorca | Source
Mallorca
Mallorca | Source
Source

Menorca (Minorca)

Menorca is the next largest of the Balearic Islands and is the least over run with tourists. It is the most tranquil of the Balearic Islands. This is the place to be to get away from it all and not be surrounded by a lot of people.

This island is a more natural setting and because not as many tourists visit here, the beaches are untouched and there are lovely coves and ravines to discover in the hills. There are also rolling hills and dry stone walls to see from ages back.

Menorca has a wetter climate and is a few degrees cooler than the other islands.

Es Mercadal is the oldest village on the island and a daily market has been held there since the 1300's. It is a charming villiage to see.

Quarries and stone cutting was famous on this island for centuries and relics from this older industry are scattered around the island.

This island is full of condos, apartments and resorts to stay out of the way of the other busy islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. If you want a vacation away from the maddening crown, Menorca is the island to retreat to.

Sailboating, any kind of boating, fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving are the activities available on the island which has a more natural island setting and is quieter and not so congested with tourists.

The quiet island of Menorca

Cales Coves - beautiful coves and caves to discover in Menorca.
Cales Coves - beautiful coves and caves to discover in Menorca. | Source
Cala Trebaluger in Menorca
Cala Trebaluger in Menorca | Source
City of Mao, Menorca where mayonnaise is said to have originated.
City of Mao, Menorca where mayonnaise is said to have originated. | Source
Source
Sant Antoni at the west end of Ibiza.
Sant Antoni at the west end of Ibiza. | Source
Night clubbing in Ibiza.
Night clubbing in Ibiza. | Source

Ibiza (Eivissa)

Ibiza - what can I say about Ibiza? In the last twenty years this island has become the hot spot, party island for the international jet set. It is literally endless partying in the Mediterranean at the macro clubs that dot the streets of Ibiza City, the capital city of the island on the south shore, and Sant Antoni located at the west end of the island.

Here are the idyllic beaches, many nude beaches, and this is the hedonistic island of the four.
The typical day for the young jet set that descends here is waking at noon, afternoon on the beaches or doing what-not, early evening naps, late night clubbing and disco sunrises. Then of course, the night clubbers crash at a beach side cafe for breakfast or hangover aid to start the cycle all over again.

This is the wild island and anything goes here. The nightclubs are well-known here such as:

  • Privilege
  • Amnesia
  • Space
  • Eden
  • Pacha
  • Es Paradis
  • Underground

Do the names give you any idea of what the night clubs are like? Here is where electronic music originated and famous DJ's from all over the world come here to perform especially during the summer months when this island is a hoard of young people.

Surprisingly, half of the island on the northeast section is all pine trees. When on this part of the island, it is hard to believe the hedonism exists on the other half of the island.

This island is all about the youth culture, so if you want a quiet, relaxed get-a-way, this is NOT the island to come to.

Charming staircase and entrance to a house on the island of Ibiza.
Charming staircase and entrance to a house on the island of Ibiza. | Source
Old Town and Harbour on the island of Ibiza.
Old Town and Harbour on the island of Ibiza. | Source
Ibiza beach.
Ibiza beach. | Source
Source

Which Balearic Island do you want to visit?

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Formentera

Formentera is next to Ibiza and considered Ibiza's sister island. However, this is a quieter island like Menorca. The international jet set stays on Ibiza and so this island is nearly empty with only a population of seven thousand.

It is flat, sandy and with unspoiled beaches. The beaches have clean sand and transparent, clear water. Because it is flat, It is perfect fro cycling, walking, snorkeling and sailing. It also has historical attractions, museums, castles, churches and art galleries.

The tourist season is the months of July and August and huge numbers of tourists flock this island, mostly Italians. So many Italians vacation here during these months that Italian is the third language on the island after Spanish and Catalan.

Outside the tourist season this island is simplicity and back to nature. Sailboats and yachts quietly come in and out of the ports, islets and inlets without a lot of traffic. This is the idyllic, paradise island like Menorca.

The Balearic Islands offer a bit of something for everyone. If you like the bustling and busy capital city, and also beautiful beaches, then Palma, Mallorca is your vacation destination.

If you are a young jet setter or person hoping to meet the international set and like night clubbing until you drop, then Ibiza is the place for you. Lay out on the beach in the afternoon to rest up for the all night fun in the cities of Ibiza Town and Sant Antoni.

And, if you want a quiet, tranquil, relaxing vacation or want to sail the Mediterranean without a lot of traffic in the way, then Menorca or Formentera is your place to vacation.

And, don't forget, there are lesser, small islands that make up part of the Balearic Islands where there are more natives than tourists found on these islands. You have many islands to choose from for a paradise vacation.

Calasaona Manfred, Formentera.
Calasaona Manfred, Formentera. | Source
Formentera beach.
Formentera beach. | Source
Formentera
Formentera | Source

Ibiza and Mallorca

© 2013 Suzette Walker

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    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      aesta1: Isn't Spain beautiful and historical? No matter what reason you are there for it is always a great time anywhere in Spain.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We were just in Spain but more to explore history and attractions we haven't seen before. These islands are so beautiful.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      So glad you enjoyed my article also!

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Oh! how fortunate your are!

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 2 years ago from Preston

      Hi suzettenaples

      Thank you for your kind feedback :) yep Spain is a beautiful country, my mother has a house there which i visit :)

      Thanks

      Lee

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      traveleze: I would be most happy to check out your hubs. I write some travel logs but I also do other subjects. I love Spain and it is one of my favorite places to visit. There is so much contrast in this one country and I have always had wonderful times there. Thanks so much for reading this and I appreciate your comments.

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 2 years ago from Preston

      Hi suzettenaples

      Great hub i can see why its the editors choice! I voted up and rated kindly as its a great hub :) I write travel hubs as well if you kindly have a look and any feedback will be highly appreciated :)

      Thanks Again,

      Lee

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thank you Devika and I am glad you enjoyed reading this. I love Spain and have been there many times. It is almost a home away from home for me. LOL! Lovely beaches all over Spain.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Gorgeous photos! I like the way you presented this interesting hub. Spain is such an amazing place to visit. I am so glad you shared this part of the world with us. Voted up!

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      midnighbliss: I am so glad you have an imagination and used it with the photos in this hub. The Baleric Islands are beautiful, aren't they. I hope you really get to one of the islands one day. Thank you so much for your visit and comments. Most appreciated.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Hackslap: Well Ibiza is the party island so go for it! When you want some rest, however, one of the other islands would be a treat. I hope you get there and please write a hub about your adventures there! Thanks for your visit.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Arun Kanti: Yes, Spain, the whole country, is beautiful. You can't go wrong with a vacation to Spain. It has so much to offer and so much to see and learn. Thanks so much for your comments and visit. Most appreciated.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 3 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      Great hub! I stopped at the Cale Coves and imagined a day playing in this beautiful water followed by a little cave exploration...and then I scrolled back up the page and visualized enjoying a hot bowl of Caldereta and freshly baked pastry rolls at sunset. ; )

    • Hackslap profile image

      Harry 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I've been wanting to go an party at Ibiza ...lets see if I can do it next year!

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 3 years ago from KOLKATA

      Very beautiful places and well described. Thank you very much for sharing!

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Vellur: it is a beautiful group of islands. It would be nice to be there right now! Thanks so much for your visit and comments. Most appreciated.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, this is a lovely, beautiful place. Awesome photos and a great write. I would love to visit these islands one day! Voted up.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      rebecca: You always have something to look forward to in life. LOL! Thanks so much for reading this and I am pleased you enjoyed it.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      How idyllic looking. Maybe someday. Thanks for sharing the beauty of the Baleric Islands.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Crystal: You will really enjoy these islands, no matter which one you pick. Thanks so much for reading this and for you comments. Most appreciated.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Bk42author: I am so glad I could introduce you to these islands. There is nothing like Spain and once in the country these are just a hop and a skip away. Thanks so much for your comments and your visit. Most appreciated,.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      kerlund: There is nothing like Spain! The islands are beautiful and there is much to do there. Thanks for your comments and for your visit. Most appreciated.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, stunning photos. I'm ready to book my trip!

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      These islands look incredible! Beautiful pictures as well. I knew nothing about these islands before reading your hub. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Amazing places, and photos:) Voted up and beautiful!

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Kalmiya: I think you say it best - a slow cruise through the islands is the best way to see them. I am so glad you enjoyed this article and I hope you do cruise the islands sometime. The weather there is beautiful all year round, but especially in the summer. Thanks so much for your visit and for your comments - most appreciated.

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 3 years ago from North America

      Ooh, I'd love to take a slow cruise through all the islands. Those beaches look amazing. Thanks for the great photos which I'm crying for as I sit here with snow falling madly outside.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      cmoneyspinner: I know, that list just keeps growing and growing. So much of the world to see! LOL

    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Another place added to my bucket list.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thanks, Mike. They are beautiful and gorgeous and offer so much to the traveler. Yes, just being in the Mediterranean guarantees beauty. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Idyllic islands may be an understatement. I had no idea this islands existed. Like they say, "I've never been to Spain, but I kinda like the music." The Mediterranean is so such rich in beauty and romance. Wonderful photographs of this area. 'Jet set', I heard of them.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      DreamerMeg: I'd love to be on these islands too. Especially with winter coming on. LOL Thanks so much for your visit and I appreciate your comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      bdegiulio: How wonderful you are traveling to Spain. I love the country. By all means, go to the Balearic Islands - they are beautiful. It is just a hop and a skip by plane or cruise ship and worth the time and visit. Thanks so much for reading and leaving comments. I appreciate your visit.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Great hub. would love to be there relaxing on the beach right now!!!!!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Suzette, what a beautiful group of islands. We are thinking about a trip to Spain for next year and this will come in handy. We had not considered a visit to Balearic Islands but perhaps we should. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      GmaGoldie: Thanks so much for reading this and I am glad you enjoyed this. I love to be on one of these islands right now! LOL Isn't that stairway in Ibiza beautiful. I am the same, I want that stairway, it is simply gorgeous. Ahh. Island life! I appreciate your visit and comments.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Exquisite beauty - truly heaven on earth. Loved this and I have bookmarked this for a return reading. I learned so much - rich in beauty and in culture. I want that stairway. Another fantastic hub.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      JPSO: Thanks for your visit and your comments. I wish I could visit also. LOL They are gorgeous. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this,

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      How i wish i could visit those places. Your hub made me feel that way.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Faith: I know, these island are just beautiful. I love islands and have been on this kick for a while. This is food for thought for when you and your hubby take a second/third/fourth honeymoon! LOL Whatever! So glad you have enjoyed reading this and thanks so much for your comments. Most appreciated.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Boy, suzette, you sure can put the desire in one's heart to travel to such places of stunning beauty to say the least! The Balearic Islands are for sure being placed on my dream sheet of future travels, when the time comes!!!

      What is there not to love. Looks like a bit heaven on earth to me.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Elias, Hi and thank you for your visit. I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Yes, I think these islands are ideal for a vacation one day. They are beautiful and Spanish! LOL Thanks for your comments. Most appreciated.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Wonderful travel hub Suzette! Balearic islands seem as a worth visiting destination. Amazing pictures too! Voted and shared!

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Jodah: Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. Yes, the hedonism on Ibiza I would skip today - not so in my 20's. LOL I would stay on Menorca or Formentera also. Although, sometime I would want to stay on Mallorca just to see Palma and some of the history there. So glad you enjoyed this and thank you for your visit.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great travel hub Suzette, I'd love to visit all of these islands but mainly spend more time on the quieter ones like Formentera and Menorca also. I don't mind visiting nude beaches but I think the hedonism of Ibiza may be too much for me...lol. Beautiful pictures, the clear water amazing. Voted up.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Kim: Me too! I would go to Menorca or Formentera also, because of less people. I would like to see Mallorca, though, for the capital city and the history there. If I was in my 20's or 30's I'd be going to Ibiza. But. today - no. Thanks for reading and commenting and I'm glad you like this.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      My Cook Book: Thanks, so glad you liked this. And the food there is great also - Spanish and Catalan cuisines is so good. Thanks for your visit and comments.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Suzette,

      If I had the means, I would book a flight today. I would choose the one with the fewest people. As always, beautiful work and voted up.

      Kim

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 3 years ago from India

      Great hub on a good destination. Thank you for the good share. Voted UP.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Eric: So glad you enjoyed reading this - I can't wait to visit someday too. I love the sunshine. Thanks so much for reading and for your input.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      billybuc: You are a true Washingtonian! I don't blame you ,the seasons are beautiful. I love the sunshine and can't get enough of it! LOL thanks so much for reading and I'm glad you can appreciate paradise!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Oh boy I would love to go. Sounds looks and smells great!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interestingly I wouldn't want to live there but would love to visit. I need my seasons and there is way too much sunshine there. LOL Thanks for a great tour.

    • suzettenaples profile image
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      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Eddy, thanks so much. I am glad you enjoyed reading and viewing this. Your visit is most appreciated.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What a truly beautiful hub Suzette ;the combination of words and pics combining brilliantly. Thank you for sharing and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.