Monday, April 15, 2024

Why I love Calvia | Santa Ponsa

There was no ‘love at first sight’ with Santa Ponsa, it was a slow-burn romance. Prior to moving to the lively bucket-and-spade beach resort, my Mallorca existence had centred around the rather smaller, more relaxed Portals Nous. My grandparents invested in the neighbourhood in the early 80s – when chichi Puerto Portals wasn’t even a glimmer in the quiet village’s eye – and I savoured three decades of family holidays plus seven years of permanent living. In 2017, I dropped the Portals Nous safety blanket for wedded bliss in Santa Ponka (as my father used to call it – something to do with 80s wastewater treatment) and I certainly preferred my husband to the town he’d brought me to.

Santa Ponsa felt big, bold and, dare I say, slightly brash. There were Irish bars, Scottish bars, English bars, karaoke bars, tattoo shops, massage parlours, fast-food giants, pirate-themed hotels, and endless souvenir outlets – it was quite the culture shock. And, while summer was full of buzz and life, in winter it felt like the last person to leave should really turn out the lights. But, dog lead in hand (the husband came packaged with a border terrier named Edwin), I began to explore and gradually found a Santa Ponsa that I loved.

My greatest discovery by far was Puig de Sa Morisca Archaeological Park. Covering a space of more than 45 hectares, the Park is home to an outstanding collection of ancient sites ranging from as far back as 1800 BC – oh and the occasional goat. Climb to the highest point and you can see El Toro and Port Adriano to the south, the industrial area of Son Bugadelles to the northeast and the Mediterranean-washed sands of Santa Ponsa beach to the north and west. On a clear day, the island of Cabrera is easily visible. A few minutes spent on that hilltop viewing platform is a tonic for the soul. If a climb is off-putting, stay on flatter ground and pass the manicured fairways of Golf Santa Ponsa. The Sa Morisca experience will go up a notch when the tourist-tax-funded museum with café and facilities opens hopefully this year.

Club Náutico Santa Ponsa is another local delight. With 486 moorings up to 20 metres in length, it’s a boat-spotting paradise and idyllic for a daytime stroll (Barnes joined the border terrier brood in 2020, so I have a lead in each hand these days) or an evening sundowner at the waterfront café, Eolo Bar, with whom we are all on first-name terms – dogs included. The marina is also home to a couple of upstairs restaurants – Italian Ristorante Classico and creative Mediterranean 7Fuegos – both with spectacular views of the yachts.

As you exit Club Náutico Santa Ponsa – by land or sea – the Creu del Desembarcament (Cross of the Landing) is a favourite beauty spot. Designed by Tomás Villa and erected in 1929, the Cross commemorates the 700th anniversary of the landing of King Jaume’s troops on 11 September 1229.

The 800 knights and thousands of soldiers went on to defeat the Muslims in the battle of Portopi on 13 September. The area surrounding the Cross is landscaped with foliage and walkways, while there’s easy access to the sea via rocky platforms – the ultimate refreshment on a scorching day.

Two other sensational viewpoints – Mirador del Cañon at the end of Gran Via Eivissa and Mirador de les Malgrats at the end of Gran Via dels Malgrats – both feature heavily on my dog-walking routes. Poor Barnes and Edwin have been photographed to within an inch of their furry lives at each of these postcard-perfect locations. At least they know there’s a treat on offer for their troubles.

So, it’s not the glaringly obvious beating touristic heart of Santa Ponsa that’s helped me forget my former love, Portals Nous, but the unspoiled nature that skirts around its edges. I also feel a sense of ‘home’ when I spy the windmill at junction 17 of the MA-1, and love to hang with the fit kids at the nearby Barmania Pro calisthenics park. This conveniently sits alongside a kilometres-long footpath that allows you to safely run/cycle/walk to Magalluf, Palmanova and beyond – keep an eye out for the quaint chapel of Capelleta Sa Pedra Sagrada along the way. Throw in brunch at Donna Vegana, coffee at Lora Lora, and tacos at Pacifico Soul Kitchen – and I should be sufficiently happy here for some time to come.

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