In June the sky is blindingly blue here, it is almost too hard to capture in photographs, and the air has the perfect balance of humidity to keep you warm in the sun while the cool ocean air breezes past your beach blanket. Here you can hike from wetlands to white limestone cliffs that overlook the sea, make roadside pit stops at one of the island’s queserias or bodegas, or head to one of the two port cities to navigate the narrow streets in search of a place to relax and have a vermouth. Menorca is like a choose-your-own-adventure book chocked full of breathtaking natural scenery, mouth-watering local delicacies and architecture that reminds me that New Orleans too was once dominated by the Spanish.
One of the things that I keep returning to this island for is the Cami de Cavalls hiking path; a 185 km long intricate network of trails that cover the entire perimeter of the island dating back to 1330. While hiking the southern coast you are likely to walk through forests of pine trees that open up to crystal-like turquoise waters playing on golden sands. The north contrasts with its red sand beaches dotted with colorful succulents and flowering century plants. I’ve covered about half of the Cami de Cavall’s twenty segments so far. Some days I sought out the most remote calas where along the way I might not see another person for hours, finding that magical, private sliver of sand that no one else had discovered that day would make the whole hike worth it. Other days I found myself in deep ravines that were home to wild orchids and olives trees where seagulls sang echoing songs as they flew between the canyon walls. These trails led me from the northern most point at the Cavalleria lighthouse, west to a pre-historic necropolis, and down to the southern tip where an eighteenth century fortress carved into the rock still stands in perfect condition. These amazing paths weave together remnants of wars past and ancient civilizations with pristine beaches and lush marshland.
After a morning spent traversing the camis I would let my feet lead me to the nearest town in search of tasty things to refuel with. Most days I would find a bodega in a sun-filled square and order ‘comida tipica’ like a sobrassada bocadillo or grilled local squid over baby fava beans. And of course no meal on Menorca is complete without a pomada, the official drink of the island made with lemonade and locally distilled gin; a subtle memory of when the British ruled this small speck of land in the Balearic Sea. When the towns got quiet in the late afternoon for siesta I would take the opportunity to wander the lonely alleyways lined with bougainvillea or linger in doorways of bakeries that smelled of yeast from dough rising before it is baked into fluffy, sugary ensaimadas. I found just as much excitement in exploring the tiny corners of the towns as I did the coves and cow filled pastures.
When the locals emerged from their well-deserved slumbers I would begin my search for keepsakes to return home with. One of my favorite things to collect from my trips here are the local sandals that men and women, young and old don daily. Walking into one of this 100+ year-old shops and watching cobblers hand make a pair of avarcas just for you is such a unique experience. Of course I also fill my suitcase with many edible items like cans of tiny fish, locally produced olive oil and jars of fig jam. I love that all of my senses are stimulated and satisfied in Menorca, I am hyper-focused on all the sounds, smells, flavors, and colors. In my real life I might’ve ignored that low droning that turned out to be hundreds of bees collecting nectar from a field of wild flowers or had been too busy scrolling through Instagram and missed catching a glimpse of horses grazing near my path, but here the island commands all of your attention.