Sa Dragonera a Balearic jewel
Mallorca´s little sister Sa Dragonera a Balearic jewel
Palma de Mallorca, Spain – The Balearic island of Sa Dragonera was once a favoured spot for pirates and smugglers due to its proximity to the Spanish island of Mallorca. Today the island is a national park and home to the unique dragonera lizard.
The reptiles grow to a length of around 10 centimetres and are found nowhere else. The island is home to hundreds of thousands of dragoneras, which have given the island on the south-western tip of Mallorca its name.
'Dragonera originates from the Mallorcan word drago, which means lizard,' explains park ranger Mika Noguera.
Many tourists and locals, however, believe the name of island, which was declared a national park in 1995, comes from its dragon-like shape.
At the harbour quay at Sant Elm, where the ferry takes visitors across the 800m channel to Sa Dragonera, tourists attempt to make out the shape of the island and in ways the island does resemble a sleeping dragon with its tail rising into the air.
Sa Dragonera is 4.2 kilometres in length and just 900 metres wide. However, the seaward facing north-west side of the island reaches a height of over 350m in places with spectacularly steep cliffs plunging hundreds of metres into the deep.
The Far Vell lighthouse is situated on the island's highest point and can be reached after a near three-hour hike.
The south-eastern side of the island faces the mainland and has a flat, rocky shoreline dotted with caves and grottos with the occasional beech tree breaking up the landscape.
Almost hourly, the 'Margarita' makes the 800m crossing from Sant Elm across what is known as 'Robbers' Bay' to Cala Llado, the largest natural inlet on the island.
For centuries, pirates used the island to hide their booty while Sa Dragonera remained a favoured spot for smugglers well into the 20th century. Goods such as coffee, sugar and tobacco were stashed here, well out of reach of the local police.
'Quite often families and their children used to hunt for the hiding places,' explains Noguera. 'Anyway, it is possible to seek out 42 old smuggler hideaways.'
A wonderful hiking route leads out from the bay towards the south-westerly lighthouse at Cala Llebeig. Following along a cliff walk, the way to the lighthouse offers superb views of the steep coast of Mallorca around Andratx.
The air is rich with the smell of rosemary although, apart from a few wild olive trees and Mediterranean pines, the island is quite barren.
A watchtower complete with cannon can be found shortly before reaching the lighthouse, evidence of the Mallorcans' consistent battle against pirate attacks over the centuries.
In recent years, however, th
By Manuel Meyer Monsters and Critics.