How to Visit Cala Pilar | Menorca’s Wild Red Beach

Often touted as one of the best beaches in Menorca, Cala del Pilar is a secluded gem on the island’s northern coast. A true sanctuary for those who like their beaches wild, undisturbed by development, and with a sprinkling of adventure thrown in.

Besides being among the most beautiful beaches, Cala Pilar is also one of the most remote beaches on this Balearic island. The journey to reach it becomes part of the experience as you wander along a dusty path, through a canopy of evergreen oaks and pine trees, to the sound of cicadas buzzing and distant waves crashing on the shore.

On arrival, prepare to be in awe of the striking red sand and vibrant turquoise waters that paint a picture before you. The final descent is gradual, but the promise of what awaits will propel you on.

What Makes Cala Pilar Worth Visiting?

The landscapes of Menorca are wonderfully diverse for a relatively small island. In the south, the area known as Migjorn, the Miocene sandstone lends itself to white sand coves and pale, pine-clad cliffs. In the North, the area known as Tramuntana, the materials are older, and you’ll find this region is more craggy, rugged and dramatic in comparison.

Cala Pilar takes on some of the same characteristics that define other northern Menorca beaches. Yet, it’s also unique enough to stand apart from the others in the area.

The ochre-coloured sand is accentuated by the rich red hills cocooning the cove. The untamed surroundings lend an air of mystery, and the vivid blue of the contrasting sea results in a canvas like none other.

You’ll find several articles suggesting access is difficult, but I don’t find that to be true. As long as you are steady on your feet, and able to walk 45 minutes (including some steps and uneven ground), there’s really not much, if any, difficulty in reaching Cala Pilar.

Cala Pilar in Menorca

How to Get to Cala Pilar

Most people get to Cala Pilar via a combination of driving and walking. It’s a popular day trip from Ciutadella, with the drive only taking around 20 mins to the dedicated car park. If travelling from Mahon, or one of the coastal resorts, it can take up to 40 minutes to reach the car park.

The road is well signposted, with the turnoff to the beach accessed near Ferreries on the Me-1 (the main road in Menorca).

Unfortunately, there is no bus service to Cala Pilar, so I’d recommend hiring a car. Discover Car Hire allows you to search and book the best deals.

The road leading to the beach is paved most of the way, and it becomes a well-maintained dirt road near the very end of the drive. The road is also wider than those leading to some of the other remote beaches in Menorca, with plenty of bays to pull over in if you spot a campervan or similar wide vehicle approaching.

Parking at Cala Pilar

Once you reach the end of the road to Cala Pilar, there’s a large free car park awaiting. I imagine it’d get very busy here in the summer. I visited on Easter Monday, and the car park was around half full (a lot busier than I expected, but it was a beautiful day!).

In the car park, there’s a solitary toilet, and a couple of signposts explaining the trails and other important things to note about the area.

Walking (or Biking) to Cala Pilar from the Car Park

From the car park, there is a marked trail to the beach that takes around 35-45 mins to walk (depending on your pace). It’s a fairly level and well-signposted walk, and as you stroll, you’ll be shaded from the sun by pines and evergreen oak trees. You can also learn about the local vegetation through a series of signs along the way.

After around 25-30 mins, you’ll come to a T junction. Turn right to continue down to Cala Pilar and Ets Alocs (it’s signposted as “Platja”). Or turn left to visit Sa Bombarda (more on that later).

The last 10 minutes to Cala Pilar is a gradual decline and there are some spectacular viewpoints of the beach along the way.

Once you reach the beach, the final access is made via a wooden stairway, much like its lookalike, Playa de Cavalleria further East.

Most of this trail is suitable for mountain bikes. There’s just a small section of paved stairs with a sharp bend near the end of the trail that may prove difficult. And to avoid having to carry your bike down to the beach, perhaps leave it at the top of the wooden accessway while you take a dip.

Walking to Cala Pilar via the Camí de Cavalls

There are alternate ways to reach Cala Pilar. Most notably via the Camí de Cavalls.

If you’re not already familiar with the Cami de Cavalls – it’s an ancient pathway that circumnavigates the entire island. Walking along this pathway is one of the most amazing things to do in Menorca, and undoubtedly the best way to discover its unique and unabashed charms.

To get to Cala Pilar via the Cami, you can start at Cala Algaiarens in the west, or Ets/Els Alocs in the east.

The Algaiarens route goes inland, through holm-oak forests, into flower-filled fields, and past the spring of Sa Teula (you wouldn’t be wise to drink from it though). It’s a beautiful rural walk that is shaded in parts and exposed in others. You won’t find too many walkers here either, particularly in the off-season.

The Els Alocs route is a popular one as it’s fairly short. From the Alocs beach, you follow a coastal section of the Cami for around 1.5 km to Cala Pilar. There’s parking near Els Alocs, so this is a convenient little taster of the cami to do if you’re short on time or energy.

By Boat

It’s fairly easy to rent a boat in Menorca, with services operating in Mahon, Ciutadella, Fornells, and Addaia (Ciutadella is the closest). Cala Pilar makes a popular spot to drop anchor for a few hours to take in the volcanic-looking surroundings and splash in the crystalline sea.

I’d only advise tackling this journey on a still day though, as the bay doesn’t provide much shelter from the wind. Even better, book a charter boat tour and let the experts navigate for you!

Walks & Beaches to Visit Near Cala Pilar

As mentioned above, you can walk the Cami in either direction from Cala Pilar to reach other remote and secluded beaches along the coast.

Els Alocs (shown above) is a stony/rocky beach with a tiny sandy section for building sandcastles. Therefore, it’s not the best for bathing, but the sheltered cove does make an excellent spot for swimming and snorkelling in transparent water.

There’s also a small boat house whose concrete platforms provide a photogenic place to set up for the day and enjoy the sun between refreshing dips in the sea.

Around halfway between Cala Pilar and Els Alocs, you’ll traverse another small stony beach, Platja de Gravilla. It’s not as scenic as the other beaches, and its location means you’ll have walkers passing by on the Cami, but it’s a fine place for a swim if you prefer to escape the crowds on a summer’s day.

In the other direction, the cami leads towards Sa Bombarda, also known as Macar d’Alfurinet, “the stony place”. This name becomes obvious when you observe the large round stones that make up much of the beach.

This is a truly wild beach, and you’ll often be sharing it with a pack of wild goats. Look out for the old copper mine set a little off the path – it’s surrounded by a wooden barrier for safety but you can still peer down into the darkness below.

What to Bring to Cala Pilar

There are no facilities at Cala Pilar, except for a lone toilet in the car park (some ways back from the beach), so you’ll need to bring everything you’ll need for a day in the sun – think sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, swimsuit, towel, picnic (I can highly recommend Piqniq in Ciutadella for delicious picnic goodies), water…

There’s no shade at the beach either, so consider bringing an umbrella or beach tent if you plan to stay a while.

Pack a snorkel & flippers to view the diverse and abundant underwater world, and maybe even your underwater camera to capture it!

The lack of rubbish bins means you’ll also need to bring any waste home with you, so don’t forget to bring an empty bag or container to carry it all back to the car.

Finally, it’s wise to bring good footwear. Although the path isn’t difficult, something with grip and toe protection is advised to avoid any mishaps on the – in-parts – rocky trail.

Final Things to Know About Visiting Cala Pilar

Due to the uneven path and stairs leading to the beach, this isn’t a beach that is accessible to those in a wheelchair, or to prams. Children should be able to handle the walk just fine, but bring a baby carrier for babies or small toddlers who may get tired on the way back up.

Remember not to venture off the marked trails, to protect the fragile flora & fauna, and the delicate dunes.

Where to Stay Near Cala Pilar

Staying in the central or western end of Menorca is wise if you’re planning on hitting up Cala Pilar, Cala Morell, and Algaiarens in one stay. Here are some of the best places to stay within a short drive.

Ses Sucreres Small & Slow Hotel is situated in Ferreries, making it a centrally located base to explore the island. The property is an oasis of calm in an authentic Menorcan village.

Seth Port Ciutadella is a sophisticated stay that benefits from its close proximity to both the beach and city delights.

Faustino Gran Relais & Chateaux is one of the most chic hotels on the island. The 5-star property offers a wellness area, bike & car hire, and a magical courtyard.

Hotel Patricia Menorca, also located in Ciutadella, is a small hotel with a pool and fitness centre, near the heart of town.

Read More: Best Places to Stay in Menorca

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