Monday, 8 December 2014

Being Green in Majorca: Tips on Eco Tourism

Want to holiday in Majorca but don’t want to fall prey to the tourist traps, mega resorts and chain restaurants serving up imported products that you could have found at home?

Travelling in Majorca doesn’t have to entail building up a huge carbon footprint and being responsible for nasty noxious gases– there are things you can do to be green on your holiday, meaning you can get all that sun, sea and sangria guilt free.

Recently, environmental damage is often at the forefront of our minds when we take planes, trains and buses, allowing us to acknowledge the impact our carbon footprint is having on the environment. With dramatic alterations in weather patterns all over the globe, it’s thankfully becoming an issue that’s difficult to ignore, which means that eco-travel options are popping up all over the place for the more green minded traveller. 

Environmentally conscious hoteliers and farmers in rural Majorca are making it easier than ever to make sure your getaway is as eco-friendly as possible. And it doesn’t get any greener than Es Castell, which is an hour’s drive from the airport in Palma, nestled right into the island’s most beautiful rural surroundings. Here, the owners go to great lengths to ensure nothing is wasted, feeding food scraps to their farm animals and also reusing building materials to keep the 13th century hotel in tip top condition without buying new, where possible. They also make sure to employ local staff, use all local products and swap plastics in favour of glass bottles, basically ticking every eco-friendly box you may have.

Monnaber Nou is another option, and was the first rural hotel on the island. The property is stunning; surrounded by organic farms and orchards where they grow their own food to use in the restaurant. Dinners and glorious breakfasts on the terrace here will be the highlight of your trip (if you’re not a vegetarian) and will be complete with meat from the farm. They’ll also arrange guided tours into the countryside for you, so that you can learn more about what Majorca is doing to protect the landscape.

If neither of these locations tickle your fancy or they’re a little too remote for your liking, then typing ‘Agroturismo Mallorca’ into a search engine will bring up some equally enviable locations.

The biggest eco-supermarket in the whole of the Balearics is Yerbabuena in Palma, which is dedicated to organic food and promoting a sustainable lifestyle. Most of the organic supermarkets on the island are situated in Palma, unfortunately, but if you’re looking for groceries or just some healthy snacks to accompany your picnics in the park, then farmer’s markets take place all over the island every single day. (Check here for more details about when the markets are on). The best organic produce market is probably Mercado Ecologico de Palma, held on Saturday mornings in Plaça Bisbe Berenguer de Palou.

If it’s gifts and souvenirs you’re looking for, or something to give to any hosts you’re staying with, Ecologia in Palma sells eco-friendly items such as toys, cosmetics and even pens made out of corn. Or if you’re in the south, Ecoteca is a fantastic organic store in Santanyi.

In Palma and Palmanova, the eco-conscious Amadip Desment does good in more ways than one. This is a NPO organisation employing mentally handicapped people, and their restaurants offer home grown, organic produce. (Side note: this is a better for lunch than dinner).

At Ca Na Toneta, ‘catch of the day’ really means just that – the two sisters who run the restaurant make a morning visit to the port, and then base the evening’s dinner on their find. Healthy, organic goods are served alongside their own personal fruit stock.

Sometimes it’s finding things to do on your travels that proves most difficult when you want to remain environmentally friendly. Quad biking, motorbike tours and driving across the island and back are a big no-no for those of us who like to stay fume-free when we can. If you don’t fancy curling up with a book all week, then there are other ways you can have fun without the harm.

ProNature travel is a service which is hoping to promote rural tourism in Majorca, allowing travellers to appreciate the natural beauty of the untouched, litter-free parts of the island that haven’t been attacked by the big, corporate building companies and their lust for mega resorts. Their bird watching tours will guide you deep into the countryside, and the expert ornithologists will give you all the information you need as you witness black vultures and raptors first hand in the feeding zones laid out all over the mountains.

If you prefer to go it alone, then Mondrago National Park in the south has miles of zigzagging walking trails, with wetland, farmland and secluded beaches where you can swim in the crystal clear waters and take a mini underwater safari.

Alternatively, the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime Terrestrial National Park is a set of 19 islands off the south of Majorca, and can be reached by boat. (Although be careful as only 50 boats per day are permitted to enter, meaning you’d be wise to book in advance). Here, wildlife roams aplenty and free, with dolphins, whales and turtles swimming amongst breath-taking caves and corals. Snorkelling requires a permit, and fishing is completely banned, but as far as untouched nature goes – you won’t find better.

You can find even more information about ‘no frills’ excursions, secluded beaches, parks and treks here. Hopefully these glorious sights will remind you of the perks of being green, and why eco-travel is the most satisfying way to be a tourist.

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