“Good girls stay at home, Bad girls go to Magaluf!” scream the bosoms of one T-shirt, “What happens in Magaluf stays in Magaluf” squeal the chest of another. I’m cringing in my sandals as we wait for take off with our 8-month old. It’s 5 in the morning and next to us a woman in her sixties is knocking back rosé wine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a bit of boozing, but it’s our first holiday abroad with the baby and this garish crowd are making me wonder if we’re headed in the right direction.
Luckily we are. On landing the lairy crowd transfer to Magaluf, the Brit-tastic party hub of Mallorca, whilst we and our Balearic-bliss-seeking co-passengers peel off to the pretty market towns of the North. Because there, far away from lads on benders and the lobster-toned, shot-downing hoardes, is the family-friendly Puerto Pollensa where we lay our scene.
If you’re looking for some family travel inspiration or have already booked a stay on the island, below are some handy tips for a holiday in Northern Mallorca with a baby in tow.
1. Make the most of the infant luggage allowance.
Easyjet offer two FREE pieces of hold luggage per infant and as most accomodation can sort out a travel cot and high chair, we took buggy and car seat. You can keep hold of your buggy until you are about to board the plane and it’s worth taking your own car seat for piece of mind.
2. Get other people’s kids to entertain your own
Most kids love babies. Children everywhere were fascinated with our little one, who lapped up the attention. In queues, on the plane, during tedious car hire registration, our fellow travellers’ kids (and sometimes their parents) made faces, played peepo and teased her playfully with cuddly toys. A ready-made entertainment programme that pleases all and eases the pressure on tired parents.
3. Go to the North
Unless you too fancy yourself want to try your luck in ‘Shagaluf’, then I suggest you head for the North of the island with your brood. The island has a split personality – in the south, its reputation is smutty and beer-swilling. The North is swankier, sprinkled with authentic, pretty market towns framed by the Tramuntana mountains. Restaurant-laden shores, families lapping up the sunshine, frolicking in crystalline seas and all only an hour away from Palma’s airport.
3. Head to the markets
Large areas of Puerto Pollensa, Pollensa and Alcudia are predominantly pedestrianised. Market stalls squeeze into narrow winding streets, spill out into picturesque squares, their tabletops bedecked with olives, nuts, cold meats, jewellery and hippy-chic baby clothes. Fantastic for browsing, yummy local produce and people-watching.
5. Throw routine out the window
Before being a mama I snorted at the idea of routine. However, it soon became apparent it was essential for our little tiny dictator. Months of gruelling sleep training and googling all sorts of parenting questions made it hard to throw this semblance of order out the window. To our amazement our baby embraced her Spanish lifestyle with gusto. Despite not always sleeping or eating exactly when we wanted, we watched her beaming face entertain waiting staff and sample Spanish cuisine. She was relaxed and laid back, so we were too.
6. Try the food
Unlike some Brit-tastic Spanish destinations, the food in Mallorca is fantastic. Waterfront bars and restaurants line the Pine Walk and serve exceptional Tapas, fresh sea food, traditional paellas and simple, tasty pizza. Purply-pink sunsets, twinkly lights and live Spanish guitar add to the magic of eating al fresco in the balmy evening heat.
* Ella’s pouches are also available at the local Spar. Pampers nappies (Spanish) equivalent are also widely available.
7. Invite the Grandparents
As parents with tinies will know, a ‘holiday’ away with them is really a transferral of your parenting duties to another destination, rather than the pre-baby relaxing break it once was. Suntanning and book reading are restricted to nap times – if you’re lucky – and day activities revolve around their eating/sleeping schedule. This is where Grandparents and their enthusiastic, trust-worthy, hands-on FREE childcare come in very handy. Make the most of it and squeeze in a date-night or baby-free lunch/activity.
8. Head to the beach
The North coast of the island is dotted with stunning beaches, dramatic mountain backdrops, calm, shimmering waters and activities for families. Pedalos can be hired for a mooch out to sea. You have to pay for sun loungers under the rustic parasols that pepper the shores, but if you’re happy to set up camp on the sand you can normally eek out some late afternoon shade. It’s worth bringing a small tent or inflatable paddling pool with cover for shade for baby.
If you’re after a bit more adventure, wiggle your way along narrow, windy roads to the remote and rugged lighthouse of Cap de Formentor (210m above sea level) for stunning views. On a clear day you can see neighbouring Menorca in the distance. A short drive away is Cala Formentor beach – a pretty spot with a hint of the Caribbean about it. It’s also the drop off point for the Glass Bottom Boat Trip. Walk the ramparts of the walled town of Alcudia, visit vineyards, kite surf or go for a splash at a water park. Pollensa town also makes for an enchanting day trip – visit the market, then burn off lunch by climbing the Calvari steps (365 of them!) to a chapel at the top.
10. Go at the end of summer
Just before or just after the schools go back when it’s slightly quieter but the island still smoulders in sunshine during the day and gleams with heat during the night.
11. Go prepared
Make sure the following items are on your packing list:
UV sunsuit and sun hat
Tent for the beach for shade
Kids 50+ sun cream
Inflatable swimming trainer seat 3-12 months. They can sit in the water without you having to hold them – available from Tesco/Mothercare etc.
Wrap around baby sunglasses (see Baby Banz)
Baby first aid kit
Parasol for buggy (although was rarely left in place by baby)
UV sunshade for buggy
11. Practice your spanish
The locals love little ones and make a lovely fuss over babies, immediately endearing you to most waiters or passers by. Go one step further and learn a little local lingo and you can’t fail to receive the best service.