Espalmador Island

The island of Espalmador, in Formentera, is a natural jewel only accessible by boat.

Here we tell you everything you need to know about this island and how to visit it safely.

Content: Espalmador Island

One hundred and fifty meters. That is the distance that separates the island of Espalmador from the island of Formentera. It is a beautiful paradise under the protection of the Natural Park of Ses Salines, which shares the island with Ibiza.

This wilderness retreat is located away from some of the island’s best-known, and therefore busiest, beaches. This makes it very attractive for those who are looking for extra peace and tranquility during their visit to the Balearic Islands.

Gallery: Espalmador Island

The island of Espalmador is a natural paradise in the middle of a sea of tourists. If you want to escape the crowds that usually occur on the island of Formentera in high season, spending a day at Espalmador is just what you need.

Check out this gallery to discover more about this enigmatic island.

Characteristics of Espalmador Island

This wild island has an area of just over 2 km2, and is protected by the Consell Insular de Formentera. Thus, the construction of any attraction or tourist facility is not allowed in the area, in order to protect the fragile natural environment.

Although this natural space has a high level of protection, it is possible to visit this dreamy corner.

If you have a boat, congratulations, you can access Espalmador in just a few minutes from any point on Formentera. If you do not have your own boat, the most common way to get to the island is through an organized excursion, but you can also get there if you hire a charter service to take you to Espalmador.

History of Espalmador

The history of Formentera’s Espalmador Island is exciting and is 100% linked to the history of Formentera. To understand its current state it is essential to know its role in the past, as it is one of the best jewels of the Pitiusas archipelago.

On the island of Espalmador, remains of pottery and utensils as old as Phoenician and Roman times have been found, in addition to the fact that the island was already used to install a surveillance system on the nearby islet known as the “Isla de Sa Torreta” (Island of Sa Torreta). Later, this small watchtower was replaced by the Torre de Sa Guardiola, one of the 5 watchtowers of Formentera.

An almost unknown island

The fact that at no time in its history has there been any notable tourist or human installation, as well as the fact that it does not appear in historical testimonies as a place to be taken into account, only indicates that the island of Espalmador never had much to offer in terms of resources to any of the civilizations that lived on Formentera over the last 4,500 years.

Nowadays, you will only find three buildings: a small farm with a small chapel; a lighthouse (the Illa des Porcs lighthouse), which is also the highest point of the place; as well as the aforementioned watchtower known as Sa Guardiola, located on the west side and visible from the sea when arriving from Ibiza.

Espalmador is a private island

S'Alga beach, Espalmador
S’Alga beach, Espalmador

The history of the island dates back to distant times, although it is a private island. The owners who have had the island of Espalmador in their hands for the longest time have been the Cinnamond family.

The Cinnamonds inherited from their grandfather, Bernard-James Cinnamond, a businessman whose family was English and also wealthy.

As the story goes, Bernard Cinnamond was a passionate traveler. While sailing in the Mediterranean, he was soon captivated by the beauty of this island. In 1932, he acquired it from the former owner, Carlos Tur Roig, for 42,500 pesetas. The story of the sale has some anecdotes worth telling in order to understand a little more about the past of this refuge: it is said that in the deed of sale, Carlos Tur wished to indicate that all the large and small livestock would remain his property, but the chickens, ducks and pigeons would be sold to their new owner, as was the case with the land.

Espalmador has had several owners

S'Alga beach, Espalmador
S’Alga beach, Espalmador

The Cinnamond brothers (grandchildren of the buyer) wanted to get rid of the paradise of Formentera by putting Espalmador Island up for sale once again. In early 2018, they managed to transfer it to a Luxembourg family for €18 million.

However, the buyers, as the previous owners did, must continue to respect the laws that protect it, above all, preventing the construction of anything on the site and keeping the natural environment in a perfect state of conservation.

As a curiosity, the Consell de Formentera itself had tried to acquire the island. However, he was unable to fulfill his wish due to lack of funds.

What to see and do on Espalmador Island in Formentera

Its curious history is not the only attraction of this delightful natural site. There are also several areas that you can enjoy during your visit to it, as well as the activities that you can carry out.

Dreamlike beaches to enjoy in Espalmador

The coast of the island stands out for its abrupt style, forming small cliffs. However, it is possible to find two beaches in the same, which are the wonder of those who decide to approach the place by boat.

These two beaches are considered nudist beaches.

In addition, they are also the perfect enclave to carry out this activity, as there are hardly any people in its vicinity since it is an uninhabited island.

If you are going to go to either of the two beaches of this charming island, it is important that you take everything you need with you, as you will not find any place to buy water or food.

S'Alga beach

The first of these two worthwhile beaches on the island of Espalmador is the one known as S’Alga. It is a natural enclave, composed of very fine white sand, bathed by an exquisite clean and crystalline sea without waves.

It is a beach with an extension of 1000 meters long and is surrounded by a thick vegetation of junipers. It is located in the western part of the place and is the closest to Formentera, reaching in front of Es Pas des Trucadors, where the beach of Punta de Es Borronar is located.

It is usually the enclave to which almost all the excursions that are planned to the island arrive.

Sa Torreta Beach

This is a much more sheltered beach than the previous one, which makes it even more charming for those who love adventure and, above all, intimacy.

Sa Torreta can only be reached by boat or by crossing the entire island of Espalmador de Formentera on foot from the beach of S’Alga.

However, a visit to this exquisite place will be worthwhile. It is an enclave with a sandy bottom that is ideal if you are looking for a relaxing bath far from the crowd.

One of its main characteristics is that it connects the visitor with the authentic adventurous spirit of the island.

Bassa de S'Espalmador,
the lagoon of the muds

There have been many years in which the muds of Espalmador Island were considered one of the best activities to do in the area.

However, it should be remembered that they are no longer allowed.

What are these muds

When these muds were one of the island’s major attractions, many people traveled to the site with the sole purpose of immersing themselves in the mud and covering themselves with it to benefit from its alleged qualities.

However, the Consell Insular de Formentera and Ibiza decided to prohibit this activity. It does not provide any benefit to the skin and, in addition, it was harmful to the fauna in the area.

The muddy lagoon was initially located in an area of about four hectares. However, this area has been decreasing over the years, as it hardly rains in the place and now the lagoon or Estanyol de s’Espalmador has about two hectares of surface area.

How to get to Bassa de S'Espalmador

If you want to see the island’s muddy lagoon, it is located right in the center of the island and there is a marked path that takes you to it, so finding it will be a simple task.

To get there, just head towards the northern end of S’Alga beach and follow the narrow path of brush that you will find at the back of the beach.

There you will reach a salt flat with the muddy liquid in the center.

A protected natural area

The lagoon is protected by environmental laws because it is the perfect place for birds to nest. This makes it a paradise for both nature lovers and ornithologists, who can come to the site to catch a glimpse of the different types of birds in the area.

Visit the Sa Guardiola Tower

The buildings on the Espalmador Island of Formentera are few, but accurate. One of the most outstanding, especially for its antiquity, is the Torre Sa Guardiola.

Along the coastline of Formentera you can visit up to five defense towers that were built in the eighteenth century. The objective was to watch the coast and to be able to keep protected against possible pirates.

Communication between tower and tower, at the time, was carried out by means of smoke and fire signals.

Now, this tower is the oldest in the area, as it was erected between 1749 and 1750.

With the promise of providing security to the population, its construction led to the consolidation of the island’s repopulation process, which began in the last years of the 17th century.

The tower of Sa Guardiola is located on the west side and a visit to it, despite its obvious deterioration, which those responsible for the area complain about, is a must to learn more about the history.

Gallery: sa Guardiola Tower

The tower of Sa Guardiola is the most impressive of all the towers of Formentera.

Both for its location and for being the first to be built, if you are in Espalmador it is worth taking a walk up to the tower to enjoy its figure.

A stroll through its islets

It is most striking to find a semi-pristine island in this part of the Mediterranean Sea. If after arriving at your destination you are left wanting more, you can do a different style of tourism. The best way to get to know this exceptional enclave is on foot, enjoying every corner that the island has to offer, as well as its varied fauna, where seabirds such as the kentish plover prevail.

In addition, you can also discover all the islets that surround it, such as the Illa de Castelví; Illa de Sa Torreta; Illa de S’Alga or Illa des Porcs.

Don’t forget, of course, to visit the lighthouse d’ En Pou to complete your route.

How to get to Espalmador Island in Formentera

Visiting the island is one of the best things you can do if you are thinking of visiting the wonderful Formentera.
Very close to the beach of Ses Illetes, at the northern end of the island, it used to be possible to reach it on foot. Today, however, this has changed.

Beach of Punta des Borronar, Formentera
Crossing the Espalmador Pass is prohibited

Getting to the island… on foot?

Depending on the tide conditions, it was formerly possible to cross the sea through Es Pas or El Paso de Espalmador.

However, it is now banned outright.

The reason for this prohibition is that the crossing from one island to the other is quite dangerous due to strong sea currents. In addition, you will see that there are signs, as well as red flags, indicating the prohibition of using this road to access Espalmador.

Barca Bahía, an affordable option to get there.

To ensure a peaceful and quiet trip, the best way to get to Espalmador Island from Formentera is by boat.

You can do it either from the port of La Savina or from the beach of Ses Illetes, in the area that you will find passing the restaurant Es Ministre.

From here all you have to do is take the Bahia boat, which will take you to your destination in just half an hour.

Boat schedules

If you are planning a visit to the charming and wild island north of Formentera, these are the ferry schedules that will take you there:

  • FROM: La Savina – Ses Illetes – Espalmador: 10:45h; 11:45h; 13:15h.
  • RETURN: Espalmador – Ses Illetes – La Savina: 4:15pm; 5:30pm; 6:45pm

By private boat, the best experience

If you are lucky enough to be able to go to the island by private boat, this will undoubtedly become one of the best adventures you can enjoy in Espalmador.

Thanks to this option, you will be able to have an exclusive view of the entire landscape, as well as of the exquisite and crystalline waters that surround it.

Traveling to the island of Espalmador in Formentera is one of the best things to do if you have that adventurous spirit inside you, eager to discover new places full of beauty and history.