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Holiday Home in Es Grau, Menorca, Spain

About Es Grau

The Telegraph says:

The water at Es Grau stays shallow a far way out, making this turquoise pool-like stretch of the Mediterranean attractive for families with young children.

Where is the beach?

On the north-east coast of Menorca, just under six miles (9km) from Mahón, the capital.

Who’s it good for?

The shallow water is ideal for small children, while teenagers love snorkelling, kayaking and paddle boarding around the bay.

What is there to do?

Swim, and take to the coastal path for walking and cycling.

What makes it special?

The beach is part of the S’Albufera des Grau nature reserve, meaning it is protected from overdevelopment.

Paddling is not just for children, you know. At Es Grau beach in Menorca, the Mediterranean stays at shin level for about 40 metres out to sea, like a gigantic spa pool of duck egg blue water. People stroll along the shore, or wade slowly through the sea, engrossed in conversation, many wearing shirts, shorts and sunhats rather than bathing suits. To swim, they stride out to the point where the water deepens to a dense shade of teal, before gliding across the calm bay.

The crescent of soft, dark sand here is half a kilometre long, divided by a large rock into a main beach and a smaller cove. The coastline forms a deep fan shape, protected by S’Illa d’en Colom, a large island near the mouth of the bay. There are two wonderful beaches there too (Arenal d’en Moro and Tamarells), accessible by a little boat that ferries people back and forth from the quayside in the village alongside the beach.

A fence consisting of nothing more than a single rope tied around wooden posts divides the beach at Es Grau from the low dunes of the S’Albufera des Grau nature reserve. Sprawling up the north-eastern coast of the island, this wetland area around a 1.25 mile-long lake, S’Albufera, is the main reason why Menorca was made a Unesco Biosphere Reserve more than two decades ago, a happy decision that has saved most of the island from excessive development.

A sandy path leads into the nature reserve from the beach, with information panels on the flora and fauna at regular intervals. Follow signs to the lake, which attracts migrating birds in spring and autumn, and after a walk of just 15 minutes, it is easy to feel as if one is in deepest countryside.

There are three short routes around the reserve, which are also part of the well-marked Camí de Cavalls, the old bridle path around Menorca. The track, which links the watchtowers and fortresses around the island’s coast, was used by the British Army during its occupation in the 18th century, although it had existed for hundreds of years before that. It was restored a few years ago, between 2009 and 2012, and tourists now come to walk, cycle or ride right around the coast, a distance of 186 km (116 miles).

From Es Grau beach, the Camí de Cavalls follows the crinkly coastline northwards, leading to a string of secret coves, including Cala des Tamarells and Cala de sa Torreta. You might be joined by pale yellow butterflies, in the shade of wild olive and Aleppo pine trees. At the first headland, look up the coast to the Sa Torreta watchtower and the lighthouse on Cap de Favàritx beyond.

Walk back along the beach and cross the little boardwalk bridge into the village. During my most recent visit, even though most people in Es Grau were clearly on holiday, it really didn’t feel like a resort. There is a smattering of bars and restaurants – four to be exact – a juice shack, a small supermarket, a tasteful gift shop, and that’s about it.

All the buildings were freshly-whitewashed and glistened in the afternoon sunlight. An open garage door revealed a boat inside rather than a car; a canoe was stashed down the side alley of a house. Orange bird of paradise flowers flourished in the gardens. A tanned man in an apron brandished a spatula in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other as he stood over a vast paella pan on the patio in front of his house.

To recuperate from all that swimming, walking, or cycling, take a seat on the terrace at the Bar Es Moll on the quayside, and gaze across the glittering Mediterranean. It might be a long lunch.