Things to See and Do in Formentera1 ... WINDMILLS
Located around La Mola are two ancient windmills on the eastern outskirts, formerly used for grading wheat. By the 1960s these windmills had fallen into disuse and became hippy communes - Bob Dylan is said to have lived inside 18th century Moli Vell for several months. Though you can’t go inside the windmill today, it has been well restored and its warped wooden sails are still capable for turning the grindstone.
2 ... MUSEU ETNOLOGIC
Located 100m northwest of Placa de sa Constitució in Sant Francesc and just above a little cultural centre. It has a moderately interesting collection of highly polished old farming tools and fishing gear. There are also a few curious old photographs of the island, including one from the early 20th century of a very muddy, desolate-looking Sant Francesc.
Outside the museum is the tine toy-town steam train that used to shunt the island’s salt to the docks from the saltpans.
3 ... BARBARIA PENINSULA RUINS
South of Cala Saona you will begin the ascent of Formentera’s southern plateau and come across the sparsely populated Barbària peninsula. Along the route there are a collection of minor archaeological sites, all signposted from the road.
First are the ruined, fenced-off remnants of the 3800-year-old Bronze Age Barbària II, which contained nine simple limestone buildings - bedrooms, workrooms, a kiln and animal quarters. It is beautifully located amidst small arid fields dotted with carob trees and dense patches of pine, which serve as prime habitats for birdlife, including flycatchers and the exotic, zebra-striped hoopoe.
The other sets of remains, Barbària III and Barbària I, also dated from the Bronze Age. Barbària III’s buildings may have been animal pens while Barbària I comprises a 3m wide circular formation of upended stone blocks that may have represented a place of worship, although practically nothing is known about their significance.
4 ... CA NA COSTA
1km northwest of Es Pujols, signposted just off the road to the Salines saltpans and overlooking the waters of Estany Pudent, is the fenced-off megalithic tomb of Ca Na Costa. This tiny but archeologically important site represents the earlier proof of human habitation in Formentera, consisting of a stone circule of upright limestone slabs, up to 2m high, surrounded by concentric circles of smaller stones. These stand adjacent to a mass grave, where the skeletons of 8 men and 2 women have been found. Archaeologists have also unearthed flint tools here and ceramic fragments indicating that early Formenterans were trading with Mallorca, suggesting a relatively sophisticated early society with established trade routes.
5 ... SALINES SALTPANS
Formentera’s shimmering saltpans lie at the very top of the island. They haven’t been in commercial use since 1984 but crystalisation in the steely-blue pools continues nevertheless, with foam-like clusters of salt clinging to the fringes of the low stone walls that divide the pans.
As an extension to Estany Pudent and Estany de Peix, the saltpans form an important wetland zone, attracting gulls, terms, waders and flamingos, the latter encouraged. The pans and surrounding coastal region of northern Formentera, as well as southern Ibiza and Esalmador, are included with a protected “natural park” where building if prohibited.
Situated to the north of Ses Salines are Platja Illetes and Platja Llevant, which are considered the be the loveliest beaches. The adjacent 200 year old salt mill now houses a restaurant.
Sea water floods the shallow lagoons and then evaporates when heated by the sun. leaving behind pure salt. This creates a specific environment on which salt loving flora and fauna thrive.
6 ... NOSTRA SENORA DEL PILAR
Situated in the heart of the La Mola plateau, El Pila de la Mola is a fairly sleepy little place and makes a good stopping off point on a trip to Formentera’s 19th century lighthouse.
El Pilar de la Mola’s most interesting history building is the whitewashed church of Nostra Señora del Pilar built in 1784. The town is best known for its craftsmen, whose workshops are open to visitors. At the popular Sunday market you can buy jewellery, good quality leather goods and excellent local cheese [which goes perfectly with a glass of the local dry red wine].
7 ... PUNTA DE SA RUDA
Approximately 3km east of El Pilar de la Mola you will arrive at Punta de sa Ruda - a rocky crag that drops steeply towards the crashing sea, over 100m below. The views of the island from here are stunning. The Faro de la Mola lighthouse, built in 1861 is situated at the edge of the crag and was the inspiration for “the lighthouse at the end of the world” in Jules Verne’s Journey Around the Solar System. A status of the French write stands close by.
8 ... CASTELL ROMA DE CAN BLAI
On the road through Formentera’s central strip, a signposted turn-off leads just south to the fenced-in remains of a large Roman fort, Castell Romá de Can Blai. The sandstone foundations are all that is left of the square structure. The fort guarded the island’s east-west highway and the nearby port, Es Caló de Sant Agustí, but little else is known about it.
9 ... TRUCADOR PENINSULA
A slender finger of low-lying land, the idyllic Trucador peninsular extends north towards the island of Espalmador. Virtually the entire length of this sandy promontory, part of Ses Salines Natural Park, is blessed with exquisite beaches lapped by shallow waters.
You will have to explore the peninsular on foot which is barely 30m wide and bordered by blinding white powdery sand that never seems to get too busy. These back-to-back beaches are Formentera’s very best, with astonishingly clear, turquoise-tinged water on both sides of the slim, sandy finger of land.
10 ... ESPALMADOR
A shelf-like island of dunes and sandstone rock, most people visit Espalmador for stunning s’Alga beach, with its shallow water and fine arc of white sand. In summer, the sheltered by bristles with yachts, and is a favoured destination for day-trippers from Ibiza [many of the Formentera-bound boat-trips from Ibiza stop here on their was to La Savina]. Some visitors take time out to visit the sulphurous mud pond a few minutes’ walk north of the beach. The entire crust of 4 hectare pool has dried out considerably in recent years because of the declining rainfall, but even in the height of summer there are three or four small patches of softer mud that you can climb down to for a writhe around in gooey bliss.