The Mallorca Caves: An Island’s Underground Paradise
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the largest Balearic Island, Mallorca, is probably the sun, beaches, and sea. However, the island isn’t only popular for its wonderful Mediterranean flair. It also offers many breathtaking sights beneath the earth’s surface.
Over thousands of years, soft limestone has eroded into many caves and grottos. Now, the Spanish island has about 4000 caves, 200 of which are open to visitors. You can admire their impressive stalactite formations and even swim in their lakes and waterfalls! To ignite your adventurous spirit, we’ve compiled a list of the most notable and extraordinary Mallorca caves. So, put your headlamp on, and let’s go!
Arta: “Cuevas de Arta”
“Cuevas de Arta” contains some of the most stunning Mallarca caves and is near Canyamel. This small village is on top of the beautiful Cap Vermell, where you can see the crystal-clear turquoise sea from a height of about 40 meters.
“Cuevas de Arta” should be at the top of your list because you get to admire its one-meter-tall stalagmites and stalactites and study their fascinating, bizarre figures. A tour through these striking stalactite rooms lasts about 35 to 40 minutes. The ground above seals off the caves, protecting them from the weather and changing seasons. As a result, the caves have a constant temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The caves’ impressive history will leave you just as speechless as the incredible stone formations. For example, did you know the caves on Mallorca’s northeastern coast once served as pirate hideouts? But that’s not all. In the thirteenth century, these caves were also used as a retreat for the Moorish armies. Once the former king of Mallorca discovered this, he filled the caves with smoke to get the Moorish soldiers out. To this day, you can see the soot-blackened stones at the entrance.
Elaborate light installations will make your tour through the stalactite halls even more interesting. They illuminate the gothic-like interior and make it easier to admire the thin columns, beautiful ogives or gothic arches, and ornate canopies. You’ll go through many different grottos with interesting names, like “Hall of the Queen of Columns”, “The Theater”, and “Court of Hell”. The cave’s most spectacular stalagmite can be found in the “Hall of the Queen of Columns”, which rises to a height of 22 meters, almost touching the cave ceiling. So, pull that camera out and capture the moment!
Porto Cristo: “Cuevas del Drache”
The “Cuevas del Drache”, also known as the “Dragon Caves”, aren’t as frightening as they sound. The name refers to an underground paradise of four different stalactite caves: “Cueva Negra” (Black Cave), “Cueva Blanca” (White Cave), “Cueva de Luis Salvador” (Cave of Luis Salvador) and “Cueva de Los Franceses” (Cave of the French). This is one of the most famous cave systems on the Balearic Islands and is on Mallorca’s southeast coast.
A tour through the cave system lasts about two hours. But there’s a bonus! The Dragon Caves aren’t just known for their massive prehistoric stalactites and stalagmites; they’re also home to Europe’s largest underground lake. Martel Lake stretches for a staggering 115 meters and is definitely the highlight of the entire 1.2 km cave tour. A musical quartet will even serenade your arrival with pieces from various popular composers. They arrive on boat with lights and play soft melodies in a unique shadow and light show. Would you also like to get in one of the boats and rock through the depths of the cave? Then go right ahead! After the 10-minute concert, you have the chance to go on a short boat tour across Martel Lake. How’s that for a perfect ending?
Génova: “Cuevas de Génova”
You also won’t want to miss a tour of the “Cuevas de Génova” while in Mallorca. These limestone caves are in the city Génova, the capital Palma de Mallorca. Discovered in 1906, they are Mallorca’s smallest cave system accessible to the public. Unlike other caves, which are the property of the government, these are privately owned and operated. Therefore, only small groups accompanied by a guide are allowed to visit. If you want to go here, reserve your tour a few days in advance.
This tour will take you as deep as 36 meters underground where you will discover a wide variety of limestone galleries, with some being thousands of years old. They’re primarily made of lime and iron, though they consist of many other materials too. This unique mixture of components and colors make this Mallorca cave a must-see.
After so much extraordinary natural beauty, are you a little hungry? Then head around the corner for a delicious Mallorcan meal at a restaurant named after the caves: El Restaurante de las Cuevas de Génova. You can taste many different types of meat, grilled fish, Spanish tapas, and, of course, Mallorcan cuisine.
Campanet: “Cuevas de Campanet”
The name “Cuevas de Campanet” comes from their location in the town of Campanet. The caves are right at the foot of the Tramuntana Mountains in the northwest. The drive alone takes you through a stunning, mountainous landscape. When you get there, you can explore the 3200-square-meter cave with a guide. The 40-minute tour takes you through ten different halls which are about 400 meters long. These halls have unique names like “Enchanted Castle”, “White Elephant”, or the “Chapel of the Mother of God”! In these galleries, you can discover an abundance of carbonate deposits that decorate the rooms. Additionally, you’ll also see plenty of stalagmites. There are also all kinds of stalactites, some of which protrude more than three meters in length and are the size of a fist. So go admire these geological phenomena that formed as the result of a slow underground water erosion process.
Did you know that in the “Cuevas de Campanet”, there are fossils of cave goats that are thousands of years old and new kinds of cave insects? In 2013, the Museu Balear de Ciències Natuals (MBCN), in collaboration with the University of Alicante and the University of Navarra, discovered the Chthonis campaneti, a new arthropod species. If that still isn’t enough to put the “Cuevas de Campanet” on your bucket list, then let the deep blue underground seas of the Sala del Llac(Hall of the Sea) or the gushing waterfalls of the Els Enamorats (Hall of the Lovers) convince you.
Cala Romantica: “Cova des Coloms”
The “Cova des Coloms” cave is on Mallorca’s east coast, south of Porto Cristo near Cala Romantica. A 20-minute hike will get you close to the cave’s entrance. But you’re not quite there yet, because the unique “Cova des Coloms” is only accessible by sea. But don’t let that scare you! It’s just a short swim to the cave’s entrance, and there’s no diving involved.
Once you reach the entrance, you’ll begin a 1 ½ to 2-hour tour with a combination of walking, light climbing, and, of course, swimming. You’ll go through a labyrinth of passageways and cave rooms with massive formations. Stalactites and sinter tubes (thin like spaghetti noodles that can be up to four meters in length) adorn the cave walls. You’ll also come across some crystal-clear lakes as deep as 30 meters. Plus, you won’t have to worry about getting too cold, because the temperature in the cave remains consistent. The water temperature also stays at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. For this trip, we highly recommended you wear a neoprene suit. Neoprene suits are usually provided by the tour guide for a fee.
You don’t have to spend your next vacation in Mallorca sipping on cocktails at the beach. Instead, add a little underground adventure to your itinerary! You won’t be disappointed, no matter which cave you decide to explore. Whether 22-meter-high stalactites, crystal-clear swimming lakes, or a romantic concert in the darkness, there’s something for everyone in Mallorca caves. Don’t miss out on these unusual underground adventures!
If you’d like some more vacation ideas while in Spain, read on here!