Unknown Cabrera: permits needed to explore the mediterranean heaven

by | 9 Apr, 2024 | Viajes | 1 comment

Legend has it that the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca was born on one of the islets surrounding the island of Cabrera.

Whether it is true or not, the truth is that the history of the island of Cabrera has been linked to the main Mediterranean civilisations: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Romans and Arabs.

It owes its name to the mountain goats that inhabited the island, which have now disappeared. Today the island is owned by the Ministry of Defence.

Since 1991 it has been declared a national maritime-terrestrial park and its conservation has been delegated to the Government of the Balearic Islands.

The island of Cabrera and its ecological and touristic importance

Cabrera is one of the least talked about islands and, paradoxically, perhaps one of the most charming. Being fairly unknown and currently protected, it is home to one of the best-preserved sea beds in the Spanish Mediterranean.

Located just 10 kilometres south of the salt flats of Mallorca, La Cabrera and its namesake archipelago have managed to maintain their enormous natural wealth over time. Untouched landscapes and endemic species await you on the island if you are someone who appreciates the environment and enjoys unspoilt nature.

Endemic species of La Cabrera

La Cabrera stands out for its high landscape value. Its vegetation is typically Mediterranean. The archipelago is mainly covered with garrigue. Among the wide variety of endemic flora of Cabrera we can highlight:

  • Rubia angustifolia ssp. Cespitosa. It is the only endemism exclusive to the National Park and is therefore an important plant from a scientific point of view, as it is a magnificent illustration of the processes of island speciation: it can be considered a species “in the pipeline”.
  • Dracunculus vulgaris. Dramatic and exotic in appearance, when it flowers (in spring and early summer) it gives off a scent of decaying flesh. It is precisely this smell that attracts its pollinator species: certain types of flies.
  • Rhamnus ludivici-salvatoris one of the most characteristic shrub species of the Balearic Islands, it grows particularly well on the island of Cabrera.
  • Limoniastrum monopetalum: A shrub characteristic of Mediterranean coastal environments.
  • Silene hicesiae: A species of herbaceous plant endemic to the Balearic Islands, found in rocky habitats and its conservation status is considered critical.

Island widelife

The Cabrera archipelago is one of the best-preserved natural areas in the Mediterranean, teeming with life, both marine and terrestrial. On land, species such as the rabbit, genet, black rat, mouse, maroon cat and hedgehog stand out, as well as three species of native bats.

Among the reptiles, the populations of the Balearic lizard, which has evolved in a unique way on the island due to the genetic isolation to which the species has been subjected for six thousand years, are particularly noteworthy. But it is the birds that take centre stage in terms of fauna, whether they are autochthonous or species that choose to rest in the Cabrera archipelago on their migratory passages.

And of all of them, birds of prey are the most outstanding: the common kestrel, the peregrine falcon, the Eleonora’s falcon, which returns every year to nest on the cliffs, and the osprey. And in the sea, more than 500 autochthonous species make up the marine fauna. Some of them have not been catalogued to date, such as several endemic crustaceans recently discovered in the waters of a cave.

Sea bream, cuttlefish, sea urchins, sea bass, cows, black sea bream and dentex abound.

Further back, groupers, scorpion fish, octopus, moray eels and conger eels, sharing space with the charismatic loggerhead turtle, the leatherback turtle and the dolphin.

Seabed on the island of Cabrera

And to all the marine fauna we have mentioned, we must add the presence of the green jewel of the Mediterranean: the Posidonia oceanica meadows. This is an underwater plant with flowers, fruits and long, thin leaves, exclusive to the Mediterranean Sea. It grows in large extensions in the form of undulating meadows and is very slow-growing. Find out more about it in our article: Sail with a conscience: Protect Posidonia in the Balearic Islands.

How to get to Cabrera

As you can imagine, the only way to reach Cabrera is by boat from Mallorca, since its small size and degree of protection make it impossible to build an airport. The island of Cabrera is located ten nautical miles from the port of Colonia de Sant Jordi (ses Salines – Mallorca).

By Ship

During the summer months, tourist boats leave from Colònia de Sant Jordi (Ses Salines) and Porto Petro (Santanyí), coastal towns located in the southern part of Mallorca that make the itinerary to Cabrera. The journey takes approximately one hour.

Rent your own boat in Mallorca and anchor in La Cabrera

Another option is that you have your own boat or a rented one and you want to reach this Mediterranean paradise to spend the day or even spend the night. If this is your case, you will need to apply for a sailing permit, and if you want to spend the night, an anchoring permit. Read on and we’ll tell you how to do it!

Permits to visit the island of Cabrera

As we have already seen, the park can be visited, without any further formalities, by embarking on the swallows that leave from the ports of Colonia de Sant Jordi and Porto Petro. However, we recommend you book in advance. If you wish to visit the island on your own with your own boat, you must request permission. On this website of the Balearic Government you can request all the permits you need to visit the island of Cabrera.

Tourist attractions of the island


The beaches are undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions on Cabrera. They are a combination of sand, stones and gravel that come from the calcareous shells of organisms that live in the Posidonia meadows.

  • Sa Platgeta

It is the most famous beach on the island. A wonderful beach in every sense of the word: crystal clear waters, virgin beach, no noise or rubbish, fine sand and spectacular views. It seems as if time has stopped there! A little further back, we have a shaded picnic area, ideal for enjoying the food you must have brought from home, or if you prefer, you can buy it at the canteen.

  • S’Espalmador

Walking from Sa Plageta along the coast we can reach S’Espalmador, which, like the previous one, is a mixed beach of sand, shells and stone. It is a route that will take approximately one hour. Once in S’ Espalmador, the activity par excellence is snorkelling and looking through your goggles at the calm Posidonia seabed with its more than 200 varieties of fish.

  • Es Moll Beach

This is the beach where we disembarked. It is a small beach but very well located, opposite the canteen and the national park offices. A beach with crystal clear water, white sand and calm sea where you can take a dip and have a cool drink after visiting the castle.

  • Es Caló de ses Güies

It is a small beach located right in front of the hostel. Here, we find the Cabrera hostel, which is open from May to October, and where you can stay for the night on the island. Obviously you have to book because it can only accommodate 12 people.
Aguas cristalinas en Isla Cabrera


Find all the marine fauna we have mentioned above on any snorkelling route you plan. It’s almost a must-do activity during your visit to the archipelago. Remember to bring your snorkelling gear to the island, although the species are visible even if you don’t stick your head in!

  • The Blue Cave

Special mention should be made of this small grotto excavated by the sea in the limestone rock in the north of the island. Due to its orientation, it is illuminated in the mid-afternoon and the sun’s rays produce unequalled shades of blue.

Cultural heritage

In addition to the beaches, Cabrera Island has a cultural heritage worth knowing.

  • The Cabrera Museum

Se trata de un antiguo “celler” reconvertido y habilitado como museo en el parque nacional marítimo terrestre del Archipiélago de Cabrera. En el museo se exponen elementos de etnología y naturaleza relacionados con el parque, y en las inmediaciones del edificio un pequeño jardín botánico muestra muchas especies de la flora autóctona.

  • El Castillo
  • This is an old “celler” converted and fitted out as a museum in the national maritime-terrestrial park of the Cabrera Archipelago. The museum exhibits elements of ethnology and nature related to the park, and in the vicinity of the building a small botanical garden displays many species of native flora.
  • Recommended routes and itineraries

The hiking routes around Cabrera are another of its great attractions. Lovers of trekking, flora, fauna and ornithology will enjoy exploring the island’s deserted interior. Some routes are the N’Ensiola lighthouse route, the Na Picamosques route, the Sierra del Canal de Ses Figueres, Ses Sitges, La Miranda, El Castillo or the route of the monument to the French Prisoners.
Faro de la isla Cabrera

Accommodation on the island of Cabrera

The island has only the aforementioned hostel. The old facilities of the military camp, now converted into a hostel, have been used. It has a capacity for 12 people and also has a dining room, fridge, microwave and a shared outdoor bathroom with showers. The hostel does not have a kitchen service, but that is what the canteen and its rich gastronomic offer are for. It is quite an experience to enjoy the tranquillity of the island at night, when the hikers leave it. To conclude, we hope that thanks to this article you will get to know the peculiar archipelago of Cabrera much better and that you will be as eager to go there (or to return if you already know the island) as we are. And if you want to rent a boat in Mallorca, you can do it here and visit the island of Cabrera.