While most people who visit Mallorca stay on the West coast surrounding Palma, we made sure to opt for somewhere a bit further away from the busy nightlife. Staying on the East coast and in S’Illot in particular also has another draw in that’s it’s easy access to the town of Porto Cristo and the famous Caves of Drach.
From our hotel in S’Illot the trip to Porto Cristo is either an hour walk or around 20 minutes on a bike. While we took the option to hire a car to explore a little of Mallorca on another day we had opted for the bike option to get to the caves. However, in true jinx style I woke up completely filled with the cold. A truly horrid, all my muscles ache kind of day but I decided to soldier on despite feeling very sorry for myself. After breakfast we headed to one of the few open rental places in neighbouring Sa Coma and hired bikes for the day. Though there is much talk on the internet of bike hire for three euro we didn’t find such a bargain but our still very reasonable price was eight per bike and gave us until 6pm go exploring.
Setting off around 11am we followed the coastal path through S’Illot and Cala Morlanda before reaching the fun bit – joining the main road. With no cycle lane or pavement we took the scary route along the major road. As we got used to both being on the wrong side of the road and the traffic passing fast and a little close for comfort I really started to struggle with stamina just to keep going. Luckily, our time on the main road proved a short one as a sign guided us towards a walking and cycle path that ran alongside the motorway. For me this was a Godsend as what should have been a 20 minute cycle turned into almost and hour. Our route through Porto Cristo was a little bit of guess work but we found some signage for the caves fairly quickly and parked out bikes in town before heading to the site itself.
Porto Cristo is much bigger than S’Illot or Sa Coma and has much more of a tourist town feel about it but is still very nice. A large marina and very much a boating place you would certainly have to remember where you tied your vessel or you’d be searching for hours.
On entrance to Cuevas del Drach the site was somewhat busy as we tagged on to the end of the 12pm tour. Though the tour of the caves is in no way guided, entrance is timed and accompanied to assure safety. At € 14.50 each (March 2016) it is a little steep for my liking but that’s mainly because I’m all about finding the freebies and discount entry times. Sadly we did not come across any of these for Mallorca even while in the off-season.
First thing you notice on entering the Caves of Drach, or Cuevas del Drach, is the humidity jumps which seem contradictory to expectation – caves are cold, damp places right? The path is very accessible through there are a few sets of stairs at the start and then lots at the end. Sometimes I get quite claustrophobic when places are crowded but after the initial decent people seemed to really spread out which put me at ease and also allowed us to see a bit more of the caves. Once your eyes have adjusted, the lighting in the caves really helps to amplify the masses of different shapes and structures created by the stalactite and stalagmite formations.
A highlight of a visit to the Caves of Drach is the orchestral element. As the cave tunnel opens up into a vast open space and underground Lake Martel a large seated area has been created in the vaulted space to allow a comfy spot for a unique classical concert. As we all shuffle along the wooden benches and find a space the lights then dim before going out completely.
Then slowly but surely a glow appears from the other side of the underground lake and classical music begins to play. The event is quite surreal as a little boat moves across the water complete with violins, cello and what seems to be an organ lit up by a little strings of fairy lights along the bow of the boat.
The music is very nice and a whole setting makes an unusual but rather magical atmosphere. The guides ask for no photography during the short concert and it is clear to see why. Even the slightness light is a distraction so I can imagine flash photography would certainly ruin the whole effect. Despite this there were of course some people with phones out adding an unwelcome blue light from the crowd. If you’re visiting make sure you are considerate to others during the musical performance and keep your phone away.
After a number of melodies our musicians and rowers in the boats received a round of applause and an offer was made to take people to the other side of the lake in little row boats. While we we are sure this would be a lovely addition for some people the long busy queue to take the trip didn’t really seem worth the two minute boat journey. Instead we chose to walk around the side path before continuing on and out back into the sunny Porto Cristo afternoon.
Our remaining afternoon was spent wandering around Porto Cristo, boat spotting and a break for lunch before heading back to S’Illot. Not a journey I was looking forward to, especially as it started off with a exceptionally big hill but we both agreed that walking the bikes up this first part would be the best idea (thank goodness!).
Thankfully our trip home was less eventful that the way out as I required fewer breather breaks and we even found a much safer route running along side the main road.
We found the Caves of Drach really interesting. Tell us about an underground attraction you’ve visited.
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