Forbes recently ranked Europe’s most beautiful beaches, and the top spot didn’t go to a Greek island, the Almafi Coast or even the Côte d’Azur. It went to Sa Calobra, right here in Mallorca.
Anyone who’s made the winding trip there can tell you why. From the moment you top the Tramuntanas and begin descending towards the pebble beach that punctuates the Torrent de Pareis, the gold tint of the sun off the clear blue water draws you down into the cradle of the mountains and a beach that is truly one of the most mesmerizing natural wonders of Mallorca, Europe and the entire world.
|Type of Beach:||White pebble cove|
|Closest Town:||Sa Calobra|
|Body of Water:||Racó de sa Vaca|
|Best Hotel:||Ca’s Pastor|
How to Get to Sa Calobra
The journey to Sa Calobra is an experience all its own. If coming from Palma, you have two options, each about an hour and a half.
The first option is to take Ma-11 out of Palma towards Sóller. From Sóller, take the Ma-11 coastal highway until you pass the large resevoir called the Embassament des Gorg Blau. Shortly after, you’ll reach a conspicuous intersection beside a preserved aqueduct. Here there is a stand called The Orange Juice Man selling, well, guess.
Alternatively, you can take the Ma-13 autopista until exiting at kilometer 25 into Inca. Follow signs for Lluc until you access Ma-2130. Take this highway through the small mountain towns of Selva and Caimari before taking switchbacks up to Lluc. Bypass Lluc along the same highway, pass through Escorca, and you will come to the same aqueduct and intersection.
Whether you came from Sóller or Inca, you must now turn onto Ma-2141. This incredible highway was built in 1933 and designed by Italian-Spanish engineer Antonio Parietti, who specifically had tourists in mind when creating the road’s hairpin turns that provide breathtaking views of the mountains and sea from numerous angles.
Popular with cyclists and bikers, the highway has been called the “perfect road for motorsport.” About a mile and a half or five minutes from the aqueduct, make sure to stop at the famous Nus de sa Corbata, or tie knot, a spiral bridge where you can stop to take a photo and have some ice cream.
About 7.5 miles or 20 minutes from the aqueduct, you’ll reach the parking lot for Sa Calobra. You cannot drive any farther and must pay to park. However, the walk into the Sa Calobra settlement is just a couple of minutes, from which you pass to the right and through a rock tunnel and pop out at the beach after about half a mile.
Boat from Port de Sóller
Unfortunately, TIB disbanded the bus route to Sa Calobra in 2021, so there are no public transportation options to the beach. The closest thing is boat crossing from Port de Sóller.
Several companies make the journey, which takes about 35 minutes and costs around €30 for a round trip. During the summer, there are several crossings per day, leaving as early as 10 am and returning as late as 5 pm.
Hike the Torrent de Pareis
The Torrent de Pareis is one of if not the most famous hike in Mallorca, in part because it ends at the beach of Sa Calobra. The Torrent de Pareis itself is a stream that runs down to the cove from its source near Lluc, but since the water level is often low or dried up completely, you can follow the stream bed down its canyon to the beach.
The hike itself starts in Escorca and is about 10 kilometers or six miles down to Sa Calobra. The trailhead begins right off the Ma-10 coastal highway near kilometer 25 and is marked with a map from the Escorca town hall.
Though downhill, it’s considered a difficult hike due to the tall boulders and scrambling required. It takes around six hours depending on your fitness level.
Additionally, it can be dangerous if the water level is high, so it’s often avoided in the wet season between October and May. You should at least make sure it hasn’t rained in the last 10 days before attempting the hike. Similarly, the canyon can be quite hot in the summer, so take plenty of water and avoid excessively high temperatures.
The issue, of course, is that without other arrangements, you’ll then have to make the hike back up, which is even more challenging. Many people go in a group, leaving one car in Sa Calobra and taking another to the trailhead in Escorca. The same can be done combining the boat from Port de Sóller.
Best Hotel: Ca’s Pastor
Ca’s Pastor is a full vacation rental with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool, fully equipped kitchen and fireplace. Located on the Ma-10 highway in Escorca, it’s a short drive away from Sa Calobra. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the rustic, cabin feel deep in the Serra de Tramuntana.
Sa Calobra Rankings
Natural Beauty: 10/10
Sa Calobra’s natural beauty is unparalleled. The beach itself is bookended on either side by sheer rock cliffs that focus your gaze into the torquoise water, the clearest I have seen on the island. Behind you, the canyon of the Torrent de Pareis casts otherworldly shadows across the polished pebbles of the stream’s outlet into the sea. It’s worth it to travel there just for a glimpse, one that will instill you with a newfound respect for the planet with inhabit.
Family Friendly: 7/10
While the Torrent de Pareis hike isn’t recommended for those under 10 years old, the beach itself is a major destination for families. Children enjoy the lighted rock tunnel that leads to the cove as well as swimming in the cool water. Plus, the town’s nearby amenities provide dining options and activities for families.
Accessibility & Parking: 3/10
Sa Calobra is a long, winding drive from Palma, nearly an hour and a half, and there are no options for public transportation. When you finally arrive, you must pay to park. The fee is €3 per hour or €15 for the day. Still, once you do park, you have a bit of a walk through the town and to the beach, though this walk is enjoyable in and of itself.
Local Tip: Motorcycle parking is free.
Space & Crowd: 1/10
You can’t expect to go to Europe’s most beautiful beach and be alone. Despite Sa Calobra’s realtive inaccessibility, it’s almost always packed, especially in the summer. Plus, it’s already a small beach with minimal space next to the water.
I recently went at 10 am on a Wednesday and still had to set up four rows back from the water. Show up at noon on the weekend? You’ll be back in the canyon.
That said, the area behind the beach is large and comfortable. Some people hang hammocks in the trees. You might have to walk between some people to get to the water, but you can certainly find a place.
Next to the beach in the port of Sa Calobra, there are tons of activities. Many scuba shops have satellite offices there for dives. You can rent boats and kayaks and take tours.
The beach is stuck right between two cliffs and is always crowded, so the first part of the water tends to be quite crowded as well. However, the water is cool and refreshing in the summer, and there is a widening space going away from the beach blocked off from boats. It’s a great place to swim.
Sea Life & Snorkeling: 8/10
Sa Calobra has the clearest water I have seen in Mallorca, which has clear water in general. Despite the crowds, fish swim right up to the beach, and if you swim out just a ways, the water deepens to over 10 meters with visibility to the bottom. There are several rock faces beneath the water that attract sea life.
Though a red rope blocks off a significant amount of the cove from boats, many congregate just beyond it. If you venture into this area, make sure to have a safety buoy and stay close to the cliffs.
Restaurants & Amenities: 8/10
Sa Calobra is one of the best beaches to go to if you want stunning views of the sea while you eat. There are several restaurants in the port ranging from bars with the comensurate fare to fine dining restaurants like Restaurante La Calobra. While the views are unbeatable, these restaurants are a bit pricey, especially for what you’re getting. If you want a top gastronomic experience, you might want to head to Cala Tuent.
Sa Calobra is not a nudist beach, and since it’s usually quite crowded with families, I would not recommend trying. Nudism is not explicitly forbidden in the Escorca municipalitiy and is common in Cala Tuent, but you’ll likely get a talking to if you try to strip down in Sa Calobra.
There are no lifeguards on the Sa Calobra beach itself, but just through the rock tunnel, there’s a safety station with first aid and a free phone charging area. Additionally, there’s a shack that is often staffed offering paid showers and bathrooms. The port itself is not far, and there is always a crowd of people that can help you in an emergency.