3 Superb Sandy Beaches on Mallorca (with Skinny Dip Optional) + the Best Places to Eat While You're There (to Stay Skinny!)

Me in the dunes of Playa Mesquida

Mercury's rising and so is everyone's need to hit the beaches! Luckily, there's definitely no shortage of sun, sand, or sea on this beautiful island, and being in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea also means Mallorca boasts some of the finest sandy beaches to run your polished toes through and the most crystal clear waters in Europe to refresh yourself—and just a two hour flight from London! 

I've been fortunate to call this island home for the last five years and have a different beach for different moods—intimate beach coves for a private swim or snorkel, lively city beaches closer to home for an impromptu sundowner with friends, and white sand beaches backed by golden dunes when I want to feel really free, take a romantic walk with my husband, or catch some waves with my kids.

Every resdient has a favorite, but I spent my childhood in Southern California, so I've always been drawn to long, wide, open beaches, and I adore dunes, so these three picks have become my favorite over the years: Playa de Sa Mesquida in the northeast, Playa de Muro in the north, and in the southeast, Playa de Es Trenc, which is perhaps Mallorca's most famous beach and can get a bit crowded in high season, but even if I happen to go to the beach in midday (rare!), it's never as packed as the French or Italian Rivieras (still love them, but different vibe). I always find some breathing room between me and my next neighbor when I venture closer to the nudist zone, where it's usually less crowded. (The skinny on skinny dipping: each of these three beaches has a designated zone for nudists: Mesquida's is on the far end of the beach, while Muro and Es Trenc have their nudist zones in the middle of their long beaches.)


PLAYA CALA DE SA MESQUIDA

This beach is surrounded by magnificent virgin land. With the exception of a few mid-tier vacation resorts that are just above the beach and don't really disturb the landscape, it's just nature out here. What can I say. This is truly my favorite setting with these incredible dunes, and if it faced southwest and had a sunset that slips into the sea, I would probably always come here.

The beach club directly on the beach has a prime location, but the food is less than mediocre, so I never order anything more than water or local white wine. The restaurant perched on the cliff above the beach, La Terrazza of the Viva Cala Mesquida Resort and Spa, has pretty standard Italian fare, but the exquisite sea view more than makes up for its lack of kitchen creativity. As a hotel restaurant, I know they have to cater to their clientele, but I appreciate that it's a notch above most 4-star hotel kitchens. Plus, it's the closest place to get a decent meal in Playa Mesquida. I usually order the Insalata Mediterranea or Insalata Siziliana, or even just a simple Insalata Mista with grilled fish or zuppa di pesce (fish soup) as a main. (But, if I've been really good about not eating gluten, I'll order a salad and then share a pasta with one of my children.) Another good option is the gluten free quinoa risotto with wild mushrooms from their surprisingly large vegetarian and vegan menu. Although if you want to keep your bikini belly from spontaneously bloating, beware of the healthy sounding vegan menu as there are a lot of dishes with seitan (major gluten!) and tofu (gluten free, but processed soy can be bloat inducing!).

Dessert? In the summer, I usually go with fresh seasonal fruit! (P.S. You must reserve ahead as they seat hotel guests first.)


PLAYA DE MURO

Playa de Muro is an island favorite among insiders and one reason is because it's home to one exceptionally good beach restaurant! My family and I go to this beach often because there's also a section (near the nudist zone) that allows kitesurfing—my husband's all-time favorite sport. So when the wind is right, we're at this spot! It also has super soft sand, stunning bay views, and it often has gorgeous waves for boarding, which makes it a favorite for my kids too.

The restaurant directly on the beach, Ponderosa Beach, has a fantastic menu with great options for gluten free and vegan diets as well. They serve paella, including lobster paella (!), but also offer a variety of grilled fish and seafood. On the turf side, I like that they try to stick with locally and naturally raised animals, such as Mallorcan lamb, free range chicken, and Iberian pork. And they have enough tasty salads and veggie sides to keep me happy when I'm not in the mood for fish or chicken (I don't eat red meat, pork, and most seafood so I naturally lean towards plants!)

Last week, I ordered tamari (gluten free soy sauce) chicken skewers with Asian slaw and brown jasmine rice, plus an extra side of grilled vegetables to share with my daughter. Their menu changes often so do have a peek at it online when you reserve your table (which I highly advise!).

My usual rules for staying comfortably unbloated in my bikini: order a salad with a lean protein and slow carbs, with my first choice being root vegetable (anything but white potato), so it can double as my starch; but f there's nothing like that, I'll order something with quinoa or rice that I can share with others. Most importantly, I'll pass on the bread!


PLAYA DE ES TRENC

 Photo: Flor de Sal d'Estrenc

Photo: Flor de Sal d'Estrenc

Es Trenc has the softest powder white sand on the island and it's surrounded by protected dunes, so it's the most unspoiled long beach on the island. It's my favorite beach because of its west facing situation and its glorious slip-into-the-sea sunsets. The beautiful drive there through the Campos countryside and the salt flats is more of a picturesque journey than a commute. Be sure to stop to admire the mountain of harvested flor de sal (fleur de sel / sea salt flakes) and even shop for salt products in the charming little boutique. This is true salt, not the refined salt that wreaks havoc on your health (and the taste of food!). It's rich in minerals and I love that I eat a little of my island every day! You are what you eat, so I guess I am a bit Mallorcan by now!

Sharing the narrow road through the salt flats can be tricky in high season though, so I sometimes skip the beauty of the natural reserve and arrive at Es Trenc from neighboring Ses Covetes, the beach northwest of Es Trenc. Just enter Bar Esperanza in your navi to find your way to this entrance, and do stop at the bar for a casual bite before or after beach time. It's really worth it, especially since earlier this year, the chiringuitos (bars directly on the beach) on this most famous of Mallorcan beaches, were closed by the Ajuntament in order to protect the natural landscape (bravo!). While they expect to be up and running again next year with temporary, cement-free structures, this still leaves a void in beach dining that is happily being filled by this beach bar that popped up last year. Bar Esperanza has a great, casual vibe, but well above average casual food. Those who used to frequent Beach Alm (now closed) in Playa Portals might recall it's the same manager!

Earlier in the season, when it wasn't so hot, I ordered their chicken curry, which to my surprise and delight, includes a hearty quantity of veggies too. Their chicken satay with Asian cabbage slaw (a starter portion, but I eat it as a main) was delicious too, and, my kids LOVE their homemade chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo. They also have usual bar food staples like burgers and sandwiches. The menu changes, so check it out before going and reserve ahead as it gets quite popular (especially with the Germans, but some Spanish can be heard in the air too!)

(P.S. For our furry friends: I only let my little chihuahua run free after hours or in the winter. Dogs are strictly not allowed on Es Trenc, but I bring mine after the lifeguards are gone for the day.)