The Sa Costera walk from Mirador de Ses Barques to Cala Tuent is one of the finest hikes on Mallorca. The walking first leads through the many terraced olive groves, into a remote valley behind the mountains and then runs parallel to the stunning azure Mediterranean Sea. The end is at one of the most beautiful coves on the island and the way back allows for a boat trip, which adds to the experience. Having said this, bear in mind it is certainly quite a strenuous hike and needs preparation. Jerome first walked this hike from the age of 4 without being carried, but it does take around 6-7 hours in total with a younger one, maybe an hour or so less with just adults or older children. Before setting out in the morning double check with Barcos Azules whether the boat from Cala Tuent at 16:55 (March 15:45) back to Port Soller will actually be departing. Double check the departure times as they change depending on the season. In case of high winds or rough seas the boats will most likely be canceled and I would advise against embarking on the hike, as you will have trouble getting back from Cala Tuent. A taxi would mean a long wait and be expensive, around 90€, or another long hike back are the only options. You also need to plan how you will deal with linear walk as if you leave the car at the viewpoint the boat returns you to Port Soller, meaning either a hike up, the bus or a taxi.
On the day we chose for the hike we had seen online that the sea was going to be too rough that day but we still planned on walking the first half of the hike to towards Tuent despite this. Our plan was to then turn around halfway along the coast and return to our start, missing the last stretch to the cove. After breakfast we drove to Mirador de Ses Barques, where we parked our car, more energetic hikers can even consider walking up (or perhaps cheating with the bus), hiking up extends the way by several hours, but avoids the logistics to retrieve the car later. We had enjoyed a lovely lunch at the restaurant a few days before on a different hike. That morning we got a beautiful view of Port de Soller from the viewpoint next to the restaurant. Even from there we could see the waves came crashing into the port and knew that no boat was going to go out that day to Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent along the coast.
At first the hike takes the same path we took on our walk a few days earlier day around Soller. Jerome was quite interested by a group of sheep with new little lambs in one of the fields we passed. The sun was already high above the olive groves, the strong wind still made us feel rather cold. In between the trees were lots of Asphodel flowers, many more than in other years, probably due to the heavy rains in the winter months.
The dirt track runs through a high plain with a farm and some arable land, the earth still churned up and of an unusual, red-brown colour. We walked through a gate and suddenly could see the mountain range that we will need to cross in order to be able to get along the coast. We would have to climb up to the saddle, which is the hardest, most strenuous part of the hike, rising perhaps 300m in elevation. First we would need to take the path down into the bowl in the mountains, this leads into a remote valley behind the islands highest peak and is only accessible by dirt tracks. To the right we took the stony path, which is signposted with by small arrows on wooden poles and headed downhill. Water trickled across the path from a well in the hillside at one point. This made the path slippery, especially on the smooth, rocky steps. It helped that we wore our proper hiking shoes instead of normal trainers, which would be inappropriate for this walk.
The path down into the valley alternates between stretches of dirt track and hiking trail paths that cut the corners from some of the big turns in the dirt road. The zigzag path descends all the way until it reaches the finca of Baltix D’Avall, parts of the building are over 1200 years old. This old olive mill was turned into one of the Agrotourism hotels a few years ago and serves orange and other drinks juice on the terrace. It must be a great place to stay for a few nights if you want to get away from it all, to be in a place of absolute serenity miles from anywhere. We always make this one of our stops for a juice, before attacking the hard hike up through the light forest to the col at the back of the valley, the most strenuous part of the hike.
Leaving the estate we took a quick look into the pretty, little chapel that belongs to the Finca. I have always admired the stunning ceiling, painted a dark blue hue with tiny stars. The way up crosses the mountain stream, empty on our walk, and shortly after the end of the orange grove it turns right onto the terraced hillside. We slowly ascended, at some point we had to take our jackets off as the wind did not seem to reach that side of the mountain and the afternoon sun was beating down on us from the cloudless sky. On this stretch of the climb in the past we always had to slow down and adapt to the speed of Jerome’s walking pace, these days he runs ahead from us and we have to stop and wait for his grandma every now and then instead.
After about half an hour of hiking up the path it joins a forest track again. This part can feel a bit annoying, as it is the last haul up to the col and it is on a dusty, winding road. It is hard to imagine that anyone would actually be able to drive up the steep bends even with the most powerful four wheel drive. After seven more bends we could see the saddle up ahead, and once we reached it, we got our first glimpse of the azure blue sea between the treetops. From there the path is downhill, through a forest of Mediterranean oaks, until it eventually levels out at about a 150 meters above sea level and contours along high above the sea on the back side of the mountain range. The path is sandwiched between the sea below to the left and the highest parts of the Traumuntana Mountains. At this point the nearest real road is several kilometres away so the remote wild feeling is atmospheric and adds to the adventure.
Shortly after we had left the forest and started contouring along the side of the mountain, Jerome spotted the rock, where we usually have our lunch break. The rock sits right next to the hiking path and is the perfect spot to have a break and enjoy the views of the coastline, the sea and horizon with the mountains rising behind. The sea on the day of our walk was rather rough and we could see the waves crashing in below and the water was very murky, not like the crystal, clear turquoise a few days before on our walk to Deia. The views are beautiful no matter what the weather and we thoroughly enjoyed our packed lunch of local bread, boiled eggs (left over from Easter), cheese and vegetables, high above the sea.
Normally we would walk along the coastal path all the way to the Tuent cove and while we did not do so on that day, turning back after about another kilometer of enjoying the views, I will still explain here the route to Tuent that we have walked many times. It is a shame we had to turn back but the rough sea meant that the boat back would not go so there was not the time to go the whole way and walk back that day.
On calmer days the part of the walk from the picnic rock to the pretty cove at Tuent is our favourite part, with its changing views of the coastline and the sea. During spring, when we are usually hiking there, many of the alpine flowers are in bloom and the sweet smelling yellow broom bushes that look like yellow polka dots on the otherwise rocky hillside are also flowering. The other ever-present plant is the grass that sometimes reaches a height of 1.5m. Jerome always likes to pick one of the long flower stems and chases after us with it. To one side is the sea, on the other the rocky mountainsides. The path is easy to find and moves roughly at the same level sometimes higher, sometimes lower heading towards a rocky outcrop in the distance.
About half way along the coast, you will find a narrow trail to your left, heading down towards the sea. This is a little detour to an ancient spring and well, if you look out for it you might notice the basin where the water collects just above the sea. We have never attempted this little detour, which takes around an extra 1.5 to 2 hours for the trek down to the shore and back up, so unfortunately cannot give you any advice if it would be worth the extra time and exercise descending 100m nearly to the sea and climbing back up.
Before reaching the other end of the coastal path, there is a slight ascent to reach the top of the rocky headland that sticks out into the sea before the bay of Cala Tuent cuts into the island. After the headland the path leads through a pine forest and the trail leads down into the bay. At some point you will get views of the pebbled beach and the stunning water through the trees. If time allows it is worth making a stop at the Restaurant Es Vegeret for a drink, snack or ice cream. If you do, find yourself a table on the back of the terrace and enjoy a café con leche and a slice of their yummy almond cake. Jerome always has an ice cream before we go down to the beach. The beach is a good spot to wait for the boat to come in, you will not be able to miss the queues of other hikers on the small jetty, before the boat is due to arrive usually around 16:55 (March 15:45).
The pebbled beach at Tuent might not be the most comfortable place on the island for a lazy day but the stones are smaller than Deia so make it a good spot for a picnic. The lack of sand means the water here is always clear and unless the sea is too rough it is a great spot for a safe swim and makes brilliant snorkeling, if you bring some goggles. Jerome likes building stone towers or houses, so it is can also make a change from a day trip to a sandy beach even for smaller children. Even during high summer season the bay is never crowded. The long drive over the mountain road (which is a stunning, sometimes hair raising, hair pin drive) keeps most tourists away from this magical place.
The ride back to Soller on the boat is always Jerome’s favourite part of the day. He likes to sit outside on the deck, next to the rails or go to the captain’s cabin to watch him steer the boat. Once the boat has left the bay of Cala Tuent behind it will make a left turn and for the first part of the ride you will be able to see the coastline you have walked along a few hours ago. Before long the towering rocky cliffs take over until you finally notice the houses of Port de Soller. The boat will veer left again into the bay, with the lighthouses at either side of the bay’s entrance and the hotels along the back of the beach. At this time of day depending on the tide many of the fisher boats maybe return into port with their catch and you might be lucky to be accompanied by the screeching of seagulls.
If you left your car up at the viewpoint you have the chance to get a taxi to collect it, but we often take the little tram back to Soller and then retrieve our car with a hike up to the viewpoint on the following day.
As I have mentioned on my other posts this is a real hike and not for a casual walk. It needs logistics and planning especially as the route is linear, requiring transport and the boat is just once a day back. Allow extra time if you are not sure of your own pace, there is nothing worse than missing the boat back. We allow 5 hours walking with also time for breaks now that Jerome is older, but younger children or less fit adults will need more.
Always plan ahead and have the right equipment in your backpack: money for the fares, a good map, guide, spare clothes, first aid kit, lunch, extra food and plenty of liquids before setting out. Take taxi phone numbers and a mobile just in case, although the reception is patchy behind the mountains. Stout hiking footwear is essential as this walk is rocky underfoot, has around 500m of climbs and approaches 10km in length. Having said all that the remoteness, the views and the beauty make it one of the best walks on the island when well planned.