Sa Calobra in Mallorca
Sa Calobra is one of the most visited places in Mallorca, located in the Tramuntana Mountains, in the municipality of Escorca. In this guide to visiting Sa Calobra, we want to share a lot of practical information and useful tips, so that you can plan your visit and enjoy your excursion to the fullest.
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Sa Calobra Beach
In Sa Calobra we find two coves or beaches: one next to the port and the other beach at the mouth of the Torrent de Pareis. We will start our visit to Sa Calobra in the upper part of the Sa Calobra cove, or what was the old fishing port of Sa Calobra, although currently there are only 3 or 4 boats left. If we go down to the beach we can still see some slipways (“escars” in Majorcan), which were shelters to keep the boats away from the sea on rough days. They are booths where the small boats were kept. In fact, we can see its guides or wooden stands sloping down to the water. Today many have been converted into bars or houses.
The beach of Cala de Sa Calobra is small, but cosy: a good place to swim or snorkel. At one of its ends we find the dock for the boats that come to Sa Calobra from Puerto Soller, so at certain times of the day, it may not be the quietest beach. We like to take a quick swim, and then go to the bar on the beach, enjoy the views and a cold beer in summer.
We continue our route through Sa Calobra from the upper part of the beach, and we see that on the right there is a promenade that follows the coastline. In the first section of the promenade we find different restaurants, to then reach the Plaza den Vidal, in reference to Francisco Vidal Sureda (1888-1942), a great promoter of tourism in Mallorca.
After the square we continue along the promenade, and we cross two tunnels about 100 meters long, to reach the mouth of the Torent de Pareis Gorge, one of the essential places in Sa Calobra. These tunnels were built in 1950. As a curiosity to say that before their construction, to reach the mouth of the Pareis Gorge, you had to follow a narrow path called “passage from Sa Calobra to the Pareis gorge” or “encletxa”. In fact this footpath still exists, although somewhat damaged and covered by vegetation. It is a small trail with a steep climb and about 300 steps.
As you go through the tunnels, there are open holes in the rock that are like “windows” with great views. The tunnels are perfectly equipped to allow the comfortable passage of people, even with baby strollers. The arrival at the mouth of the Torrent de Pareis is spectacular, with the view of the beach that forms a small cove, the mouth and part of the course of the gorge in the background. It is a kind of natural amphitheater with high walls and a small opening to the sea between two rocks. This peculiar shape allows it to have a very special acoustic, and in fact, on the first Sunday of July, a music concert is held.
In Sa Calobra the beaches are made of pebbles, and this one is barely 20 meters wide, but in the summer months it is “packed to the brim”. In the photo below, you can see how small the beach of Cala de Sa Calobra is.
The Road to Sa Calobra
The Sa Calobra road is considered one of the most spectacular in Mallorca. In fact, many commercials and movies have been shot here. And it is even the scene of a classic car rally.
The road begins in the area of Els Arcs, and has a route of 13 kilometres to Cala de Sa Calobra. Along the road there are numerous viewpoints, such as the Sa Corbata knot, which we include in the list of the best viewpoints in Mallorca. There are times when a picture is worth a thousand words, so in the photo below you can see what the Calobra road is like.
How to get to Sa Calobra?
We can get to Sa Calobra either by sea by boat, or on a hiking route (the Torrent de Pareis being the most popular) or by following a spectacular road built expressly to reach this wonderful place in Mallorca.
The road to Sa Calobra is one of the most spectacular roads that we find in Mallorca. The road was built between 1928-1935 by the engineer Antonio Parietti Coll, modifying a previous project by Gabriel Roca, in anticipation of the increase in tourist influx to this area. The road runs 13 km. through very steep terrain, and overcomes a drop of 700 metres. It was built expressly to reach this place.
On the subject of parking, for those who come by rental car, there is a paid parking area, and in the area near the port you cannot park at all. It is not a large car park, so sometimes it may be more advisable to come by boat or early or late in the day.
The other way to get to Sa Calobra does not detract from the previous option at all, since it is a beautiful boat ride from Puerto Soller to Sa Calobra. In about 45 minutes, the boat covers one of the most spectacular areas of the coast of Mallorca, with views that you can only see from the sea. Cliffs, sea caves, islets, ancient defensive towers, views of the highest mountain in Mallorca… all this and more on the boat trip to Sa Calobra.
The price of the boat to Sa Calobra from the Port of Soller is €30 for non-residents and €23 for residents, on a round trip. The boat departures to Sa Calobra are from February to November, although in the low season months there are fewer departures, and from May to October there are up to three departures a day.
Excursion to Sa Calobra
Visiting Sa Calobra on an organised excursion is possibly the best option, since:
- You avoid all the nerves and stress of driving on the road, and focus on enjoying the sights.
- You can combine in the same day, a journey by the famous Soller train and the boat to Sa Calobra. And even the bus route through the Sierra de Tramuntana.
- It is cheaper than buying each ticket seperately.
- If you choose the bus tour, you make a circular itinerary, getting to know much more about the island. And they also pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
- The comfort of having everything organized, with your seat your place on the train guaranteed.
An excellent option to visit Sa Calobra is with an organized tourist excursion, which combines train, tram, boat and bus with free time in Sa Calobra. In this way you combine different transports, and avoid all the stress of driving on the road, and enjoy the views.
Hiking through the Torrent de Pareis
There are several options for hiking excursions that end in Sa Calobra, the most popular being the one that runs along the Pareis stream. The usual thing is to do it in summer, when the riverbed does not carry water. The excursion begins in the town of Escorca, and from there it descends to the bed of the Torrent de Pareis. It is a complicated route, which requires good physical condition and experience to overcome the different obstacles that exist. The final reward is the arrival at Cala de Sa Calobra, where you can take a refreshing swim on its beach.
For the curious: secrets and stories
Let’s start with a curiosity. What we visit is really the port of Sa Calobra, since the town itself is somewhat further away. It is a small village with a group of houses, and located 120 metres above sea level, in a place almost invisible from a boat. This situation is due to the fact that it is intentionally located to avoid being discovered by the Algerian and Turkish pirates, who already in the 16th and 17th century, mainly, looted the possessions of the coasts of the Christian Mediterranean, especially Mallorca and other Balearic islands. From the port of Sa Calobra, we can reach the town in a walk of about 20-25 minutes following the road, and then taking a detour towards the town.
For those curious about names, say that the old name is Colabra, surely of Mozarabic origin, in reference to the winding shape of the Pareis stream that flows into the Sa Calobra cove.
Sa Calobra was a place very frequented by pirates and corsairs because:
- It is a spacious cove with unbeatable conditions to anchor boats and take refuge, provide water and loot houses.
- The remoteness of towns and the difficulty of roads through which help could arrive were propitious circumstances to frequently try to attack the inhabitants of the valley by surprise.
- Ease of disembarkation and absolute impunity, in such a way that many people were robbed and taken captive.
On one occasion, 20 hostile galleys came to anchor. This permanent state of insecurity forced the creation of a surveillance system based on secret guards distributed in the most strategic points of the coast, among which was Sa Calobra and the Torrent de Pareis. To consolidate this defensive network, the Torre des Bosc was built.
Its economy was based on agriculture. In fact, if we go down or up by car-coach from Sa Calobra, look at the remains of walls delimiting the fields, and we can still see some olive trees in the area.
At the end of the 19th century they discovered a new resource to improve their livelihood: smuggling. The sea coast with the large cove and the surrounding shelters constituted a wide space for the landing of contraband tobacco. The inhabitants of Sa Calobra entered this business, and in a short time, they became expert receivers and distributors of the merchandise. Despite the presence and continuous vigilance of the police, they knew how to adapt to the many natural caves in the area and turn them into deposits so secret and camouflaged that they were never discovered. From the tourist boom with the Torrent de Pareis, it experienced a radical change that made it one of the most attractive places visited by tourists.
Hotels and restaurants in Sa Calobra
In Sa Calobra there is no hotel to stay, something strange considering its popularity and that we are in Mallorca. In the 60s there was a hotel, called Hotel Sa Calobra, and in this link you can learn more about its history.
Refugio de Sa Calobra
Yes, there is an option to stay in Sa Calobra, and it is the shelter that the Escorca town hall has on the port beach. It is a building that was renovated in 2014 with capacity for 10 people, and with basic services such as running water and electricity. The price to spend a night in the refuge is around €100 per night, and reservations must be processed with the Escorca town hall. The refuge is located in the port of Sa Calobra.
The offer of restaurants in Sa Calobra is wide in terms of number, with options for all types of snacks, sandwiches, self service…