The hike along the Mallorcan north coast from Ben’s D’Avall to Deia is always one of the highlights of our stay on the island. Jerome loves the walk along the coastline through the pines, with the stop for an ice cream and orange juice by the beach in Cala Deia.
To get to the start of the walk we drive to Ben’s D’Avall a small urbanization on the coast over the col from Soller and famous for it’s Michelin starred restaurant of the same name. There is parking for cars in the car park next to the restaurant, and the trail leaves the car park near the start of the parking spaces. It drop down and crosses the dried out mountain stream bed and then heads downhill, along a dirt track which is used by the owners of the houses that live besides it. Soon the clear blue waters come into view with a perspective across the rocky coast below. One of the attractions of the walk is the little coves and bays reached by scrambles down, and some of which provide the perfect place for a swim in the refreshing sea if the day is hot.
Instead of heading down to the sea the path to Deia is sign posted left into the pinewoods after the road barrier, which prevents cars from driving any further down the track. The walk first leads through the pine trees, the path is soft underneath the feet from a sea of fallen pine needles. On our walk that day the sea, was constantly below us with an intensely beautiful turquoise colour, it was totally calm with no ripples or waves in sight.
The trail on this first section of the walk until Lluc Alcari is not as well sign posted as many other hikes in the area. For some years when we first visited the way was barely passable due to a lot of fallen trees and storm damage, but in the past few years these have been mostly cleared and now it makes for an adventurous hike along the coast. There are still points where the path is not yet fully clear and there were times when we all had to keep a sharp look out for signs of the route where others had trodden before. We also kept an eye out for the blue dots and stone cairns that mark the trail. Jerome and I like to build the stone men higher if we think they are not visible enough between the underbrush or trees.
Leaving Bens D’Avall behind the path climbs through the pines and then after a while it heads higher into an olive grove. At this point we had to cross a fence on one of the ladders that farmers put into place for hikers like us to avoid opening the gates. Jerome has always liked climbing across these stiles, making it more like an adventure for him. Following the path onwards this first part of the hike even felt like an adventure, as in places we had to scramble over fallen tree trunks or duck underneath them, which can be quite challenging for tall people like Chris, especially when carrying a backpack. There are two large rock outcrops that must be negotiated between Bens D’Avall and Lluc Alcari and the path descends then rises over the back of them before descending again. The reward is several amazing views from the top of the rocky outcrops.
Between the rock outcrops a torrent needs to be crossed, with towering rocks further below. Here it is important to find the right spot in order to guarantee a safe passage across. This might sound like it could be too dangerous for children, but it is not, as long as you have the right footwear and follow the proper hiking trail. We saw other hikers who were off the right route and maybe dared to be adventurous or perhaps they could not find the right place, anyway they struggled to get from one side to the other. If you follow the well trodden route and look for the markers the way can be found.
Having accomplished this challenge we moved on and found ourselves walking on the trail above the turquoise sea. It winds itself slightly up and down, before we got to the second difficult part of the track. Just after climbing across another fence there is a steep climb up a headland ridge, which is rather dusty and has a zigzagging stony route up.
The ground underfoot is not ideal and is probably easier for the nimble children than the heavier adults. The route looks easiest up the fence but has several scramble points and actually the best line zig zags across the tree roots. My advice, if you try this walk is to take the section slowly, each step at a time and if you have a child with you help them along, but they might find it easier than you though!
At the top the view open up and then the way passes underneath a huge rock, which is lined with crystal veins, and for us they were shimmering in the bright afternoon sun. Jerome always loves taking a closer look and he would love to take a piece of rock home with him. From there on the path is much easier to find and more a walk than a hike along the coast.
Soon enough we spotted the many stunning coves of Lluc Alcari and on that day we could see surprisingly many sunbathers on the rocks in the unseasonably hot weather. There even were some brave swimmers in the fresh sea. Even if you are not going to swim in the sea, the area is a great spot to stop for a break and to take in the breathtakingly beautiful scenery and maybe consider a snack.
At the back of the beach before a rustic holiday house the paths divide, there is a scramble down to the cove, the left trail would leads up to the charming village of Lluc Alcari (in my opinion the most beautiful village on the island) or the third option heads straight ahead for Deia. We took the latter and left the few houses that have been built this far below the village, behind. The scenery changes slightly, Euphorbia (wolf’s milk) plants are ever present next to the path, which winds itself through the tall pine trees. Sadly many of the huge pine trees that used to cloak the walk when we first made it are now gone, lost to a big storm ten years or so ago.
The track winds round a series of headlands, rising and falling with each little cove and indent. In places there are spectacular views along the coast from the tops of the points with sheer cliffs to the blue sea below. In between the path descends and curves around the back of inlets, some have steep tracks down to the remnants of old traditional boat houses on the rocks, others are inaccessible inlets with the waves below. The hiking trail along this section is much better sign posted and laid out, there are wooden fences along the more difficult parts of the path, which makes progress much faster. However there are some steep drops and it is worth keeping younger children in sight.
Close to Deia we have a special rock, that sits on one of the cliffs protruding into the sea with amazing views, where we always stop there and take a break. We had a bite to eat from our backpack, olive baguette, local cheese and sausage accompanied by cucumber, tomatoes and carrots. It is important to drink a lot while hiking and we usually bring a large bottle per person.
After our short break the last stretch of the hike passed quickly and we could soon see the entry to Deia and spotted a sailing boat just leaving. Once we reached the top of the bay we could see the stunning cove with its stony beach and the mesmerizing, turquoise water below. The two restaurants were packed to the brim with guests, enjoying a late lunch or coffee on the gorgeous, sunny day. Neither restaurant can be praised for their food, but if you are hungry and fancy a relaxing lunch with views towards the sea they are a possible option.
Jerome had run ahead to go and find a table in the restaurant facing the beach and the sea. He was very keen to get his promised ice cream while we enjoyed a cup of coffee. We were very lucky to get front row seat, thanks to a couple that were just leaving. In front of the café there were surprisingly many people lazing on the beach and even some swimmers in the water. Still quite a contrast to the summer time when it is extremely hard to get a spot to sit or lay down on the beach at all unless arriving very early or late afternoon. Jerome enjoyed his ice and then headed down to the pebbled beach. He started looking for flat stones, perfect for skipping over calm, clear sea. Unfortunately there were not many flat ones, but he tried and succeeded a few times anyway.
For the return journey it is probably best to choose the same route back as on the way over to Cala Deia. The other option to walk up to Deia, along the road and pick up the high route back to Soller is much longer. Heading back we passed less other hikers and the beach and coves were nearly deserted. Some teenagers had set up a camp in the hills near Lluc Alcari and were obviously planning to spend the night. They seemed in a jolly good mood, sitting on some rocks while enjoying a can of cerveza (beer).
The only two places we had to look out for and take slowly were the ones mentioned earlier, especially just before the torrent it is advisable to look out for the right path to cross. We almost went too high up and had to walk back a few metres to get to the right spot to cross. We were much faster hiking back, maybe because Jerome was running ahead, he was keen to get home and play card games all evening, another tradition of our times in Soller.
We picked up our car at Ben’s D’Avall, the car park was still empty, if you are in the area and fancy a romantic dinner, watching the sun set over the sea and enjoy some of the best food on the island this is where you should go.
The hike from Ben’s D’Avall to Cala Deia is one of our favourite walks on the island. It is a popular hike if you want to experience the stunning coastline and mountains while walking just above the sea. The round trip takes us around 4-5 hours, each leg is about 6 to 7 km long with lots of up and down stretches. It is possible to also start the walk from the main road at the turning to the little village of Lluc Alcari in case you want to cut it short almost halving the distance (this involves a 20 minute trek down and back up to the village on your way back). Children from the age of about 4 to 5 used to walking should be able to manage the hike, as it is not too strenuous and there are no long climbs involved. We have seen plenty other families on our hikes to and from Deia. As mentioned above, there are some tricky parts in the first half of the walk and I would advise against starting from Ben’s D’Avall if you are not experienced hikers, with or without children.
I will say it again on this post as I have on my last few as it applies more than the previous walks. It is imperative to have proper hiking boots or stout footwear, a decent map/guide and to not venture off the marked tracks! This is a hike not a stroll and needs respect – there are points where you will be on narrow steep paths with loose footings, you may need at points to crouch or use hands, and others where there are cliff edges. Should you want to hire a guide for hiking in the area I can recommend Tramuntana Tours in Soller. As always take enough water and food with you to last the whole way plus some spare. The restaurants in Cala Deia are open from April to October, but opening times can vary on the mood of the owners so do not rely on them.
There are a few points along route where you may access the beach or coves for a swim. However, this usually involves climbing down over a few rocks or scrambling up or down a steep bank. Please also note most of these swimming spots are frequented by nudists, and the coves are clothes optional – in case this might make you feel uncomfortable.