This route will take us kayaking to the secrets of the largest and most protected from the north wind northern Menorca bay.
This excursion by kayak begins at the small fishing village of Fornells. The best place to launch the kayak is the slipway on the jetty or one of the public piers along the waterfront. You begin by following the western side of the bay southwards, passing by the residential area of Ses Salines and then the small group of old salt-pans known as Salines Velles (or Fornells), after which this residential area is named. As you approach the southernmost point of the bay – with the mountain of El Toro always in sight to the south – the water gets increasingly shallower and you will not be able to paddle deeply. You will pass by a number of small shallow coves before reaching the salt-pans at the foot of the bay – somewhat larger than the previous ones – known as Salines Noves or de la Concepció. Immediately afterwards, you come to Cala Blanca, so-called because of its distinctive white-coloured rocky outcrops. Here the sea is so shallow that you cannot paddle right up to the shore and you will have to continue a few metres further on to be able to land.
Continuing along the coast, you pass Escull dels Cagaires, a rocky outcrop where a few shags usually rest. Rounding this point, Cala Rotja comes into view, which is a good place to land and to go for a stroll. From the base of this beach there is a path on the left that will take you to the peaceful and lonely Cala Blanca in 2–3 minutes for a chance to rest in the shade of the pines before undertaking the remaining part of the route. If you continue from here eastwards you will come to Illa dels Porros, the first of three islets in Fornells bay. A little further on you reach Illa dels Ravells and then Illa Sargantana, the latter island with a tower built by the English during their occupation (1801) and an immense cistern for collecting rainwater.
Once past these islets and continuing northwards, the sea starts to get deeper again. When you are level with the village of Fornells, you will come to three coves: Caló des Llenyam, Cabra Salada and S’Arenalet, the latter with a freshwater upwelling that the local goats drink from. From behind this latter cove, an old military road leads to the top of Mola de Fornells from where there are wonderful views of the bay and the cliffs of Menorca’s northern coast. You will need proper shoes for this walk. Once you finish the walk, you can continue paddling in the open sea or perhaps spend some time snorkelling. As you cross the mouth of the bay back towards its western side, you will see the Torre de Fornells (a tower also built by the English at the beginning of the nineteenth century) and the headland of Escull de Tirant, another good place for snorkelling. Also visible from here on the way back to the starting point are the ruins of the castle of Sant Antoni (end of the seventeenth century).
Distance: 11.3 km (6.13 nautical miles) Estimated time: 2 h
Walk to La Mola de Fornells (there and back)
Distance: 3 km Estimated time: 1 h
Fornells Bay is very sheltered and well protected from bad weather. Nevertheless, strong winds – above all, from the north – can make the sea rough. Use the natural shelter that the coast provides in case of rough weather. The bay’s coast has plenty of spots to shelter if needs must. In July and August beware of the many boats that sail in the bay and enter or leave via the bay’s mouth.
• Kayaks can be hired in Fornells in the tourist season.
ALTERNATIVE FOR LA MOLA DE FORNELLS
If you feel like paddling more and in the open sea, leave the bay and continue along the north coast of La Mola de Fornells, following its cliffs and visiting some of the caves you will come to (e.g. Cova dels Anglesos, Cova de ses Imatges, Cova dels Orgues, Cova de ses Bruixes or Cova de s’Esbrufador). Just past the eastern tip of La Mola de Fornells, you reach an islet, Illot d’en Tosqueta, behind which in the cove of the same name there is an excellent spot for resting before starting your return journey.
Fornells – Cala en Tosqueta – Fornells
Distance: 12.396 km (6.69 nautical miles) Estimated time: 4-5 h
Fornells bay has a remarkable variety of geological outcrops. The rocks on its eastern side are dolomites, a pale-grey rock that resembles typical limestone but which has a much greater magnesium content. On the bay’s western shores north of Les Salines Velles grey siliceous rocks appear. But south of these salt-pans the rocks change and give way to Triassic rocks that basically consist of reddish sand- and mudstones that give Cala Rotja its name. These red mudstones were once used as whetstones. Along with the three islands, La Mola de Fornells (122 m) is the most outstanding relief feature of the bay. The two sets of salt-pans are excellent places for birdwatching: look out for waders, herons and flamingos. In the bay it is not unusual to see osprey, peregrine falcon, Audouin’s gull and cormorant. Different subspecies of the Balearic lizard live on the islets: Podarcis lilfordi porrosicola on Illa dels Porros and Podarcis lilfordi sargantanae on the others. From the bay’s mouth as far as Illa de ses Sargantanes, the sea bottom is covered by posidonia meadows but as you reach shallower waters algae become more dominant.
How to get there
Fornells is on the north coast of Menorca, 9 km from Mercadal, 36 km from Ciutadella and 27 km from Maó. To get there from Maó, take the road to Fornells from the roundabout at the far end of the port.
There is a regular bus service between Fornells and Es Mercadal and Maó. Check out bus times and frequencies (that vary according to the season).
See all routes Menorca by kayak