Family fun in Majorca

With Castle Travel offering direct flights from Ireland West Knock Airport, you can enjoy the sunshine of the Balearic island Majorca. This flight operates from June 23 to September 1. The island of Majorca off the east coast of Spain is the largest in the Balearic Island group, which collectively form one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, and certainly in the Mediterranean.

Majorca took off as a tourist Mecca in the 1960s, when a development boom spawned the building of hundreds of high-rise hotels, apartment blocks, and shopping centres which now line most of the island's coast. The capital, Palma, however still retains some of its historical flavour, sporting grand mansions and a magnificent Gothic cathedral in its bustling centre. The northwest coast still offers some secluded coves below the peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, and several quaint old towns and villages.

If you visit Majorca for the sun and fun, it is worth taking a break from the beach resorts and heading off for a tour of the island by car, or even bicycle, to discover the romantic fishing villages, historic monasteries, monuments, museums, and spectacular landscapes tucked away from the madding crowds. The interior is largely the preserve of a thriving agricultural community, dotted with windmills, olive and almond trees.

Santa Ponsa

Santa Ponsa today bears little resemblance to the fishing village it once was. Just under half an hour away from Palma and about three miles (5km ) south of Magalluf on the south west coast, Santa Ponsa is famous not only as a popular resort, but as the landing point of King Jaime I in 1229 when he came to take the island from the Moors. A stone cross at the resort's marina marks the event. Santa Ponsa is highly developed and tends to be lively and busy, with an active nightlife and excellent beach culture. Santa Ponsa is the principal beach, which is supplemented with imported sand, while the more sheltered Calo d'en Pellicer is slightly smaller and closer to the marine club. The third, more exclusive beach is Castellot. The water at all three beaches is warm and clear, and offers safe swimming. A pedestrian promenade, with shade provided by pine trees, runs in front of the Santa Ponsa beach and there are the usual beachfront restaurants, bars, shops, and cafés. Over the years Santa Ponsa has developed a Celtic flavour, with a number of Scottish and Irish themed pubs and bars.

Santa Ponsa has a number of supermarkets, a good choice of souvenir shops, stalls, some designer goods, jewellery stores, and other essential amenities such as banks. A better shopping selection is available in Palma and the closest weekly market takes place on Wednesdays in Andratx. There are a large number of different restaurants offering local cuisine, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and more. There is a varied nightlife at the resort, with karaoke bars, theme pubs, live music venues, and several clubs and discos.

Santa Ponsa boasts three golf courses, as well as tennis, watersports, diving, horse riding, and sports grounds for skateboarding and football. There are also regular boat trips along the coastline and these usually stop so that passengers can enjoy a dip in the sea. A nearby popular attraction is Aqualand in Magalluf.

Alcudia

The resort of Port d'Alcudia is situated in the north of Mallorca at the top of a long curving bay with an endless white sandy beach. It is two miles (3km ) south of the historical old town of Alcudia, from which it takes its name. It has a fairly relaxed atmosphere; its spectacular beach is the major attraction, though it is also well placed for exploring the attractions around the north of the island.

Alcudia does not have a distinct shopping centre but small shops line the beach road and the other small shopping areas dotted around the resort also cater for tourists. The satellite resort of Playa de Muro has an upmarket mall with some nice boutiques and the port area has a selection of designer shops. The supermarkets are good, stocking all the well-known brands along with cheap alcohol and cigarettes. The local market opens on Tuesday and Sunday mornings and the market in Inca, 15 miles (24km ) inland, opens on Thursdays.

Most restaurants in Alcudia are fast-food joints and cafés offering something with chips. There are also a few Italian, Indian, and Chinese restaurants. The better restaurants are mostly in the port area, where diners can find some decent Spanish, French, and seafood restaurants within a lovely harbour setting.

The activities in Alcudia are mainly focused along the spectacular five-mile (8km ) beach that fronts the resort. All sorts of watersports can be arranged from scuba diving to banana rides. There are tennis and squash courts in the resort and nearby attractions include a water park, a go-kart track, and horse riding stables. Boats trips can be arranged to the stunning Formentor promontory where passengers can snorkel or simply take in the views. The nearby towns of Pollenca and Alcudia (old town ) and the mountain village of Lluc are worth exploring in search of a little culture, while those looking to get away from it all can take a trip to the mountainous western side of the island.

Majorca is a fantastic choice for families with a short flying time and transfer to resorts.

Flights operate on Tuesday and Saturday from Shannon (May 2 – September 26 ).

Flight operates every Tuesday from Ireland West Knock airport from June 23 to September 1.

Packages from Knock with Castle Travel start from saver offers at €1,483 including taxes for a family of two adults and two children. From Shannon airport, prices start at €429 pp including taxes.

For further details or to make a booking contact Castle Travel, Ellison Street, Castlebar (between the Bank of Ireland and Heatons ) on 094 902 4244. Log onto www.castletravel.ie

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