Pantaleu, Sant Elm, Mallorca, Spain
© Dimitri Weber/Amazing Aerial Agenc
The tiny island of El Pantaleu (or Es Pantaleu in Catalan) is off the westernmost shore of Mallorca, itself a relatively small island only 50 to 60 kilometres across. Both are part of the archipelago of Balearic Islands in the Balearic Sea, off the east coast of Spain. Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera are the chain’s four major islands and are famous as tourist destinations popular among those seeking the warm Mediterranean climate and inviting shoreline.
Pantaleu is more precisely an islet, a mere rock of about 2.5 hectares in size. Its highest point is 24 metres. Not much grows, and no one lives here. Mallorca is only about 304 metres away, making it a vigorous but doable swim from the beach at the village of Sant Elm. Technically, no one is allowed to step foot onto Pantaleu because it is designated a nature reserve, along with the much larger Dragonera Island a few kilometres farther to the west.
Pantaleu is most useful as a wind break for boats, as you can see from this aerial photo. Even centuries ago, sailors understood the value of Pantaleu as an anchorage. In 1229, young James I the Conqueror, King of Aragon, and his fleet hid from a storm behind Pantaleu before he invaded the Balearic Islands. These days, most of the battles around here have been settled, although you might have to parry a vacationer for a spot on the sand or a table at happy hour.