Small but perfectly formed, the island of Menorca holds a special place in my heart. I was six years old when I first visited with my family and we stayed in a small, white apartment surrounded by vibrant pink bougainvillaea. Since then, I've been incredibly lucky to return to the island several times and have picked up a few tips about what to see and do along the way. So, without further ado, here's my whistlestop guide to the ‘Jewel of the Balearics', including when to go, where to stay and what to get up to while you're there.
Menorca is the smallest of the Balearic Islands and is certainly the quietest. If you're wanting a holiday that includes all-night parties and banana boats, it would be better to go to its sister islands, Majorca and Ibiza.
The island is split into two halves – The Migjorn (the South) and The Tramuntana (the North) – named after the winds that blow across the land. The Migjorn welcomes the warm, southerly winds from Africa, whilst the Tramuntana receives the harsher winds from the north.
The best time to visit Menorca is early summer (May/June) before peak season. The weather at this time of year is glorious – temperatures in the late 20s, clear blue skies and long, warm evenings. It's also easier to get about on public transport and you'll have no trouble finding somewhere to lay down your beach towel.
Arenal d'en Castell is the largest resort in the Tramuntana and is set around a picturesque horseshoe-shaped bay. The beach has fine sand and warm, calm waters so it is perfect for families. It's also surrounded by pretty Mediterranean low-rise holiday complexes, bars, restaurants and some beautiful coastal walks. Take the clifftop path at dusk to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Mediterranean sea.
Other popular destinations on the island are Binibeca, Cala ‘n Blanes, Cala Galdana (stunning!) and Punta Prima.
There's no question that the beaches are the major draw in Menorca. The main resorts have stunning bays and although most get crowded in the summer, you're never too far from an equally beautiful, less-populated stretch of sand.
You should also visit the island's two main cities, Citadella and Mahón. Both have stunning ports, a fabulous atmosphere and lots of great bars and shops. If there's one thing you must do while you are in Mahón, it's to take a glass-bottom boat tour of the harbour.
Between sunbathing and sightseeing, you might want to take to the turquoise water to kayak, surf or windsail. Snorkelling and scuba diving are also popular here and there are some picturesque country lanes for hiking and cycling.
For me, the resort of Cala Galdana is one of the most beautiful on the island. Located to the west, the resort boasts a dramatic landscape, pine-tree covered cliffs and stunning views.
Another glorious spot is Fornells – a beautiful fishing harbour that is home to some great fish and tapas restaurants. Fornells is unspoilt by hotel complexes and offers its visitors a much more authentic pace of life.
Getting about Menorca is easy. The roads are quiet, so if you're nervous about driving abroad, this is a great place to start. There are car hire companies across the island but it's just as easy to get about on public transport; the local buses are fairly regular but to get to some destinations you may have to change in the major towns.