10. Look after and preserve our beaches

Beaches are very sensitive natural environments and their conservation largely depends on you.

If you plan to go to the beach and take some drinks and food with you, please consider using reusable containers, bottles and cutlery and avoid glassware.

Place your rubbish in the recycling containers located away from the beach; if they are not there, please take your rubbish with you until you find them.

If you smoke, please keep the butts, they are not biodegradable and they can remain on the beach for up to five years!

Please use sun tan lotion or water-resistant and biodegradable sun-protection creams and wait for a few minutes before you go for a swim. Otherwise, the cream will dissolve in the water and will pollute the sea.

If you go to the beach with your pet (dog) or other animal (horse), do not forget to collect their excrements; and if you take them with you to authorised beaches, please respect other people around you.

Please do not take stones or sand with you as a memento of your visit to Menorca. A beach is slowly created one grain at a time; and can also be destroyed one grain at a time.

Do not pile up stones as this damages the flora, fauna and alters the landscape; please help us maintain its natural state.

Fish and marine birds look for their own food and hence balance is kept. Please, do not feed them.

Much has been said about the benefits of clay baths for our skin, but we must take into account that the removal of clay erodes the cliffs and endangers the beach ecosystem.

Leave the car in the areas created for that purpose and walk to the beach following the marked paths. Please do not walk on the dunes, they are the natural habitat of essential flora and fauna for the conservation of the beach.

The beach is the environment where many living beings live: crabs, fish, molluscs, seaweed... Enjoy looking at them, but, please let them follow their path, do not touch them or take them out of the water and, never take them home as a souvenir!

Shake the sand off your feet, off the towel, your clothes and any other belongings you brought, the sand belongs to the beach!

Water is very scarce. Please, do not have long showers at the beach and avoid using shampoo or shower gel.

If you sail, please use the anchorage buoys and avoid using your anchor for as long as it is possible. If you do, please look always for areas in which there is no Posidonia seaweed. Their presence helps create the sand and prevents beaches from disappearing.

You can be the voice of the beach! Share, tell, recommend or suggest to other people how to take care and protect it.

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the waves, walking along the shore... and look at the beach from a different point of view.

Impacts of beach goers
Impacts of beach goers on submerged areas
Impacts of beach goers on exposed areas

Impacts of beach goers

Although those with more opportunities to go to the beach in Menorca are the approximately 100,000 residents on the island, over recent years the number of annual visitors to the island has increased to over 1,250,000. Of these visitors, more than 50% arrive from June to August. The tourist season also attracts seasonal workers, which means that the resident population on the island doubles from May to October.

Tourism is the major economic activity of the island's economy. Apart from being the primary source of income for the island's economy, those activities directly related to the tourism industry represent around 30% of all jobs on the island. Apart from this clearly seasonal nature of tourism, there is another factor that takes the influence on the coastal environment to a further level: 95% of tourists visiting Menorca come to enjoy their holidays or leisure time, hence they are drawn primarily by the beaches of the island and the quality of its waters.

Tourism and seasonality impacts affect all the beach zones, both the emerged and submerged areas. A common feature of both areas is the existence of human-made waste that requires an extended period of time to decompose by the actions of nature.

Impacts of beach goers on submerged areas

Although a majority of the tourism activity occurs on the emerged area of the beach, water sports tourism does also have a clear effect on the submerged areas. Water sports tourism in this sense includes any activity requiring the use of a sea vessel. This sector of tourist activity has seen clear growth over recent years in the Balearic Islands in general and in Menorca in particular.

Boats anchored in Cala Macarella

The main impacts of the vessels anchored on the environment are caused by the direct effect of the dropping and raising of anchors, the dragging effect on the sea bottom caused by the anchor and the eroding effect of the chain as a consequence of the swinging of the anchor. An additional consideration are the bilge waters and detergents that are dumped into the sea. They are extremely polluting substances and endanger the conservation of Posidonia oceanica meadows. Scientific research has shown that the type as well as the size of anchors used by boats is decisive with regards to the damage caused to the meadows of Posidonia seagrass. It has been calculated that one single 9-meter long boat can provoke the permanent loss of 50 rhizomes/m2 due to the direct effects of anchoring. This means that just one relatively small boat can destroy approximately 2.5 m2 of Posidonia oceanica meadows in one month.

Posidonia oceanica is of vital importance for the preservation of the island's beaches. Among the actions carried out to limit these anchoring effects, a program called Posidonia Life fosters the use of specific anchoring zones in especially sensitive areas, in addition to awareness campaigns. Currently there are two specific anchoring zones in Menorca: Fornells and Illa d'en Colom.

Anchoring buoy areas in Fornells and Illa d'en Colom

Impacts of beach goers on exposed areas

Impacts caused by the mere presence of people on beaches

Here, there are two striking impacts derived from massive human presence. The first is the compacting of sediment; therefore it will be more difficult for the sediment to move from and to the three structures that made up a beach (submerged sandbars, beach and dunes). Secondly, people on the beach act as a sediment transportation agent, moving the sand adhered to their bodies or clothes outside the beach system. Both activities may seem negligible; however if we take into account the number of visitors that enjoy Menorcan beaches, we realise that people do in fact act as an important agent for sediment transportation.

Sand transportation on the feet of a beach goer

Impacts provoked by the access of people to the beaches

When someone goes to the beach, he or she tends to walk across the dunes, unless stated otherwise. This provokes the destruction of vegetation that overcame the challenges to grown here, and as a consequence weakens the dune field. In order to reduce this effect, platforms or paths of access to the beaches are being installed.

Access to the sea

Impacts provoked by the boom of tourism activity in general

In Menorca, the main tourist centres are Son Bou in Alaior; Cala en Bosc, Cap d'Artrutx and Cala Morell in Ciutadella; Playas de Fornells, Arenal d'en Castell and Son Parc in Es Mercadal; Punta Prima and Binibèquer Nou in Sant Lluís; and Sant Tomàs in Es Migjorn Gran. In these development areas, beaches have undergone serious changes on different levels, as well as their dune fields, which have even disappeared from some of these areas. The PTI's (Island's Territorial Plan) development and implementation is an element that should contribute to the preservation of the already existing dune fields.