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Do you know why the beaches in the North of Menorca are different from those in the south?

The landscape of Menorca is surprisingly diverse, and we reveal why.

Normally, the Northern areas of any part of the world are much greener than the Southern ones because it rains more, but the landscape of Menorca does not vary because it rains more on one side than the other. From the Eastern to the Western tip, it is 57 kilometers, 44 kilometers of main road, and 19 kilometers from North to South, roughly. It's true that almost 20 kilometers could allow rain to be the main factor explaining the difference in landscape, but Menorca is different even in that. The causes explaining the landscape diversity on an island of 700 square kilometers are various, but the main reason is due to the type of stone; the rock in the North is different from that in the South. To quickly understand this, we summarize the more than 400 million years that served to create this fascinating island.


First of all, it's very important to know that the Balearic Islands are not of volcanic origin, except for some islets of subvolcanic origin, but be careful not to be misled by this. The Balearic Islands are the result of hundreds of millions of years of sedimentation and tectonic movements. Menorca has not always had the shape it has now and was not located where it is now, in the middle of the Western Mediterranean. 400 million years ago, the first materials that formed the island were in the Southern hemisphere of the globe and deep under the sea. If you pay attention to the color of the rocks on the island, you'll see that in the North, Northeast, we can recognize three different colors, black, red, and gray, and in the South, West, and Northwest, the rocks are white. Different colors corresponding to different geological periods. The difference in colors is due to each period in which the materials that compose the island today were accumulated either comes from different places, or the sedimentation process occurred at different levels above and below sea level. For example, the materials that form red Menorca came from the surface transport of materials due to the island's rain action at that time, what we today call dark Menorca. These materials, transported, deposited on the riverbanks, and cemented, obtained that reddish color due to their exposure to oxygen for more than 20,000 million years; they are oxidized materials, rich in iron oxide. The dark, red, and gray rocks are the oldest, hardest, and impermeable materials. The white rock is limestone, porous and soft, known as marés. It is the young part of the island and is characterized by its composition. The sedimentation process of white Menorca lasted approximately 10 million years.


During all that time, the contributions of materials from the island at that time (dark, red, and gray Menorca) were sedimenting. To these contributions, we must add the remains of microorganisms from the extensive marine life that inhabited between the island at that time and the large coral reef located just below the sea, in front of the South coast. Microorganisms that, upon dying, were deposited and cemented over thousands of years, layer by layer, creating white Menorca. Then, 5 million years ago, Menorca was definitively emerged, the action of rain and the rivers' course in search of the sea shaped the valleys and ravines. Shapes that the North does not have because the rock in the North is hard, so the South is easier to mold, it's more rugged.


From there, a series of conditions add to the island's landscape diversity. For example, in the Southern ravines, there is water, torrents. A torrent is the small version of a river, they are no more than 2 kilometers long, so if there is water, there is more vegetation, and the vegetation has broad leaves, lush. In addition, these valleys are protected from the famous tramontana wind that blows mainly in winter, not only by the force of the wind gusts but also by the salt that the wind from the sea carries, which prevents vegetation from growing. The opposite occurs on the Northern side. There is vegetation, yes, but it is mainly shrubby, except for some olive trees shaped North-South. Well, the type of rock not only explains the shape and amount of vegetation on both sides of the island, it also explains why the beaches in the North are different from those in the South. The Southern beaches are magazine-worthy, with white sand, intense green pine forests, and turquoise blue waters, the play of colors of the three elements makes each of the colors look even more vibrant, they feed off each other. We don't have this picture in the North. Most of the beaches in the north are desert-like, with hardly any vegetation (with some exceptions), and the water looks darker. This does not mean that the water in the North does not have the same quality as the sea in the South, or that it is murky; the dark color is due to the color of the seabed rocks, different shades for which we now know the reason. The picture in the North is different from the South, but equally spectacular. The North is arid, rocky, almost Martian. It has its own charm. That's why people usually choose to go to the North or South, not only because of the wind direction but also based on the desire to enjoy one landscape or another.

The landscape of the island doesn't just change from North to South; it also transforms throughout the year. It's amazing how the colors of the island vary between the seasons. From the green of the meadows in full winter, from the first rains of October, the color of the spring flowers to the arid landscape of the pastures in summer, a very characteristic contrast. That's why it's a pleasure to enjoy Menorca and the Mediterranean landscape not only in summer. On each MD excursion, we explore the South, North, and center of the island to discover and understand the diversity of its landscape. Enjoying the natural heritage is one of our strengths.


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