Menorca may be only 20 per cent as big as and have only ten per cent of the population of Mallorca but it still has very healthy tourist figures from a customer base who have done their homework into the island and have a clear idea of what they are looking for. Naturally there are some things that Menorca cannot offer such as dynamic nightspots aimed at young holidaymakers who spend more time in the nightclubs than they do on the beaches.
Menorca cannot hope to compete with Mallorca on its choice of large beaches or the choice of international nightclubs of Magaluf. It also has to give second best to Mallorca when it comes to the bright lights of the city of Palma de Mallorca, its neighbour's capital. For travellers the scale and efficiency of Palma's airport is hard to beat. Mallorca's recently modernised international airport is certainly an impressive travel hub.
But for all that, Menorca does hold its own in most other areas and the attractions that make rural Mallorca so attractive to more adventurous travellers and international celebrities seeking an island hideaway, are equally abundant on Menorca. It has the measure of Mallorca when it comes to golden beaches, secluded coves, marinas, hillside villas and luxury hotels. It also manages to attract a very healthy quota of visitors, more than half of whom comes from the UK with a significant portion of the remainder coming from Germany and Spain.
Unlike the dense sprawls of suburban Palma, that succumbed to the over-jealous whims of property developers during the 70's and 80's, Menorca has managed to avoid most high-rise hotel development and each town and village still retains a certain original charm.
The capital city, if you can call it that, is Mahon and has a population similar to that of UK the market town of Newbury in Berkshire. As far a cities go it hardly registers on the worldwide list by size, but has a wealth of history having been a feature of ancient events for longer than even London. The architecture of Mahon is mainly Georgian, originating from the British rule of the city for around 80 years in the eighteenth century, when the British navy established a port there and transferred the island's administrative centre from the previous capital of Cuitadella, at the other end of the island.
So why do so many tourists, almost 1 million every year, choose Menorca for their summer holiday? Of course weather conditions are vital and just like Mallorca, Menorca benefits from a wonderful Mediterranean climate and more than 300 sunny days every year. If you come to Menorca between April and November and you can almost guarantee warm temperatures, minimal chance of rain and many hours of sunshine. To make the most of all that fantasic weather, most people prefer to spend their days on the beach or by a villa pool and in Menorca you'll find lots of those all over the island.
Family holidays seem to be a key attraction of Menorca, with quieter and smaller resorts proving popular for those with kids. Safe beaches with calm waters can be found all around the island, particularly in the south-west. The largest resort is to be found at Cala Santa Galdana, where bigger hotels can cater for thousands of visitors, but most other areas are much smaller, offering a more peaceful and secluded holiday.
The longest beach on Menorca is at Son Bou, where a wide sweep of sand, stylish bars and a choice of water sports make it a real summer playground for those on holiday. The beach is reached via a wooden board walk which opens out onto a 2 kilometre stretch of amazing beach. Lifeguards watch over the waters from watchtowers which look just like those found on Miami's best beaches and the scene is very similar. The beach offers a choice of two styles. a more lively end close to the town centre and shops, which is easily reached and, although sometimes crowded, has space for everyone.
Further along the beach, reached via a longer walk along the dune footpath or by using the coastal path from Sant Thomas, the beach is very quiet and unaffected by any shops or other facilities. The remoteness of this end of the beach also makes it popular with nudists. It's unusual to find a mix of lively and quiet beach areas so near to each other.
In other parts of Menorca there are equally fine beaches such as those at Cala Turqueta, the quiet bay at Playa Son Saura and the family beach at Cala n Bosh. Walkers are also choosing a holiday on Menorca now that the island authorities have completed the coastal footpath, the Cami de Cavalls, which circles the entire island. Originally a route for horses (Cami de Cavalls means path for horses) that was used for transport and to defend the island, the footpath was first built in the seventeenth century and after a new law was passed in 2000, has been fully renovated and opened for public use.
So Menorca is attractive to all kinds of tourists, from young families and older couples to active walkers and water sports fans. It may be less busy than its bigger neighbour but Menorca can compete with Mallorca on most fronts.