“Picturesque” is a word that you can’t just use indiscriminately, but it actually describes Portocolom to a T. The sheltered natural harbour, the boats gliding through the azure blue, the lighthouse, the colourfully painted fishermen’s houses, the bars and restaurants like the “Colón” with their inviting terraces by the promenade…Portocolom or Porto Colom contains all the elements to make it a favourite place for buying property in Majorca.
This coastal village in the east of Majorca – around 60 kilometres from the Balearic capital city of Palma – belongs to the municipality of Felanitx. Having approximately 4,500 inhabitants, it merits the label “manageable”, and that’s exactly what makes it so cosy. Although it may be deceiving, because Portocolom is the greatest in a certain regard – it is said to be the largest natural harbour on the island. And you can see something here that you see less and less often in Majorca; alongside sleek sailing yachts, the traditional Majorcan fishing boats called llaüts still have their place too.
Festival for the Virgin
Throughout its history, Portocolom has always been a fishing village. That’s one reason why the church bears the name Parroquía de la Virgen del Carmen and it’s dedicated to this patroness of seafarers, who is honoured with a big festival during the summer. In the 19th century, the harbour served as a port of export for Majorcan wines, shipping them to southern France. However, this business came to an abrupt end when a vine pest (grape phylloxera) spread through Majorca and stalled the viniculture.
Nestling in the southern part of the natural harbour is the fine-sand beach of Cala Marçal, distinguished by its Blue Flag, which is awarded for criteria such as good water quality. Here, you’ll also find hotels and holiday apartments.
A trip to the opposite side
If you fancy a beautiful walk, you could stroll along Portocolom’s paseo marítimo, passing bars, restaurants, shops and the harbour, and then – for a change of perspective – reaching the other side, opposite the village centre. Before getting to the lighthouse “Far de Portocolom” on the cliff at Punta de ses Crestes, you’ll come across the sandy beach of S’Arenal…giving you the chance to spread out your beach towel and combine a little sunbathing with a dip in the sea.
The matter of the place name
Residents of Portocolom are convinced that their village bore a mega famous son, believing that no less than Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) was born here. Or that’s the conjecture, anyway. Apparently, the village was named after him: Portocolom – the port of Columbus. It’s uncertain whether that’s true or not, however. There’s no proof of it so far anyway. Others say the place name stems from the Latin phrase “Portum Columbi” – the port of the pigeons – and that the Romans would have given the name to this piece of land during their time in Majorca because they found a great number of these birds here.
In any case, the Romans are said to have used the sheltered bay as a safe harbour about 2,000 years ago. Going back to considerably more ancient times…on the outskirts of Portocolom, you’ll find the archaeological excavation site of Closos de Can Gaià, which is laid out in a U shape. It dates right back to the Bronze Age.
Vall d’Or Golf
Golfers can indulge in their passion for the game on the 18-hole course at Vall d’Or Golf, which also has a driving range and offers golf lessons. After all that putting, you may be a little peckish or even have worked up a big appetite. Well, the restaurant Casa Club is just the spot – with a view over the golf course and the Bay of Portocolom.