It was a Norwegian ornithologist staying at my B&B in Port de Pollença (Puerto Pollensa) who convinced me to experience Majorca’s Cap de Formentor drive. He extolled the virtues of the North Majorca cape – the scenery, the flora, the fauna, the quiet coves, the picnic opportunities, and the views from the lighthouse at the tip of the headland.
What he didn’t mention was the cape’s precarious road. I guess one man’s heaven is another man’s hell.
Cap de Formentor or Formentor Cape is a headland located on the northern coast of the Balearic island of Majorca (Mallorca in Castilian Spanish). The Balearic Islands are part of Spain and are located off the country’s eastern coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
Back in the 1950s Majorca was one of the first places to experience mass package holidays but, despite this, the island still has quiet and secluded areas…if you’re willing to drive on crazy roads.
I can’t blame my ornithologist acquaintance for sending me on a drive which would wreck my nerves. I was already curious about the stunning headland which hugged the western shores of Badia de Pollença (Bay of Pollensa). I had read about the historic five-star Hotel Formentor where former guests included Hollywood stars and political heavyweights such as Winston Churchill and Mikhail Gorbachev. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier spent part of their honeymoon at the Hotel Formentor but they arrived by yacht.
The plan was to have morning coffee at the Hotel Formentor and to spend the remainder of the morning discovering the beautiful cape. Google Maps gives a distance of 19.8km from Port de Pollença marina to Cap de Formentor’s lighthouse and estimates a journey time of 37 minutes. It took me about an hour which felt like forever.
As soon as I exited the western suburbs of Port de Pollença the road began its sharp elevation. Within a couple of minutes an altitude of 500 feet was reached and I had already experienced a couple of hairpin bends.
The first stopping point was Mirador Es Colomer, a viewing point which had a panorama of the headland’s western flank. A few people headed off in the direction of Talaia d’Albercutx, a watchtower with an elevation of over 1,100 feet with an even crazier road leading to it.
Feeling confident that I had reached the apex of the headland’s height I continued towards its tip. For about a kilometre the road veered inland but sharply swung back towards the western cliffs. In a couple of minutes I arrived at the junction leading to the Hotel Formentor but I decided to continue. The adrenaline was beginning to pump and my appetite beginning to wane in what is a perfectly normal physiological response to a threat more often known as the fight-or-flight response.
The next couple of kilometres on a reasonably flat road through a forested area lulled me into a false sense of security. I came to a signpost for Cala Figuera and suddenly found the sea to my immediate left via 500 feet cliffs. Yes, the views were stunning and yes the water was a translucent turquoise but a mangled Fiat Punto would spoil that scenery so I focused on the road.
For the remaining couple of kilometres the road twisted and turned like an animal caught in a trap. I found it difficult to imagine that large machinery traversed this terrain to construct the road in the first place. I was beginning to feel nauseous and my pale clammy hands were losing their grip on the steering wheel.
But the headland saved the worst till last. A hairpin bend at an area known as Les Moles on the eastern side of the promontory was etched into the side of the cliff meaning the car was perilously close to a 500 feet drop on my right. At once I rounded this terrifying bend the cape’s lighthouse was in sight.
Despite the stunning views from the Cap de Formentor lighthouse I didn’t linger – the longer I’d delay my return to Port de Pollença the less able I would be to tackle the route. So, with adrenaline still pumping I made the return journey, finger nails digging into the steering wheel with determination. By the time I reached the Hotel Formentor junction my appetite was non-existent. In fact, it took the whole afternoon of rest and relaxation at gorgeous Cala Molins before I was ready for food.
Despite the anxiety of the Cap de Formentor drive, I cannot doubt the scenery I witnessed which was unquestionably magnificent. I would have no hesitation in repeating the journey albeit on a bicycle. In fact, according to Epic Road Rides the Cap de Formentor Cycling Loop is an icon of European cycling. Their video is proof that I have not taken poetic licence in describing the route.
Neither did the drive diminish my love for the island or for Spain. In fact, Majorca was my motivation for learning Spanish – A fairly ringing endorsement of the island, I’d say.
GETTING TO MAJORCA
Despite being an island Majorca is one of the easiest sun destinations in Europe to reach. In fact, I cannot think of a country in Europe which does not have at least one flight connection to capital city Palma, the island’s airport and Spain’s third busiest. Ferries connect Palma with Barcelona, Valencia and Denia on mainland Spain.
I used a combination of Lonely Planet’s Mallorca guide and The Rough Guide to Mallorca and Menorca for researching the whole island.
Other Iberian destinations can be found on my Spain Travel Tips post.
My accommodation in Majorca was booked through booking.com. Check out their offers for the Balearic Islands here.