With the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains as a backdrop and the uninhabited island of Sa Dragonera as your vista, Sant Elm is a real gem, but purely a summer place with very little life in winter.
Getting there #
The village is located at the easternmost tip of the island and can be reached by car on a winding, narrow road from Andratx. When coming from Palma, follow the signs down to Port Andratx, take the second roundabout, following the signs. For those of you who rely on public transport, Sant Elm is on the no. 100 bus route. Click here for a time table >>
As many Mallorcan costal towns and villages, Sant Elm was a sleepy little fishermen’s settlement until discovered by tourism. When sitting on one of the ideally positioned benches along the seafront looking out across the waters on a peaceful summer day, it is hard to believe that this stretch of the Mallorcan coastline was right in the focus of Spanish history for three days when the fleet sent by King Jaume I anchored between what is now Sant Elm’s beach and the Isla Dragonera in a Reconquista raid. Es Pantaleu, the little island off the coast, was the first place the Christians set foot on, an event stil.l celebrated every year in the famous reinactment of the battle of Christians vs. Moors on Sant Elm’s main beach on the first weekend of August.
The village of Sant Elm was named after the chapel build in 1279 by King Jaume II, dedicated to Sant Elmo, the patron saint of sailors whom they called upon to spare their lives in heavy storms and who also lent his name to a weather phenomenon considered as a good omen by seamen and admired with religious awe as a sign of his presence: Sant Elmo’s Fire – a glowing ball of light formed by the rare conjunction of luminous plasma being created by a corona discharge from pointed objects like a ship mast or a church tower and a strong electric field in the atmosphere as it occurs in a thunderstorm.
In Castilian – the language that by foreigners is generally known as “Spanish” - the name of the village is Sant Elmo or San Telmo, the latter spelling being used way into the 1990ies on road signs dating back to the Franco era, until they were exchanged in an island-wide effort to re-establish the old local Mallorquín names.
In recent decades, many holiday homes have been built around the original old core of Sant Elm, although thankfully most buildings are of moderate height and appear tucked away in the craggy coastline, so they are not crowding in on the village itself. The only (relatively) tall building is a hotel next to the main beach, and although it’s not exactly what you’d call an architectural gem it’s not too massive and doesn’t spoil the beauty of the beach next to it.
The Castle of Sant Elm #
In the 13th century, King Jaume II de Mallorca gave orders to build the castle of Sant Elm with the aim to create a naval hospital. During the heyday of piracy in the Mediterranean in the 16th and 17thcenturies, it served as a watchtower and shelter for the defence of the local population. Today, the Castillo de Sant Elm is a venue for private festivities and hotel.
Fundació Illes Baleares
Food & Drink #
Along the beachfront and little street, you will find a number of bars and restaurants to cater to your needs. The east end of the village above the little port and point of departure of the Sa Dragonera ferry offers a spectacular sight over to that island and is a favourite spot for sundowners. When choosing a place for your meal, keep in mind that the restaurants in this section of the village sell as much the view from their terraces as the food itself. If you are looking for something affordable, try one of the restaurants along the main road. Or head to La Cocotte with its lovely shady terrace in the segunda linea. When eating there, don’t forget to leave room for dessert. The owner is French and her apple tart is worth a sin.
Along the main street you will find quite a few little shops and boutiques worth browsing. As for food, there is a little supermarket with a really good bakery right at the entrance of the village, and another smaller one on the little roundabout at the eastern end towards Sa Dragonera.
The Beach #
The main beach of Sant Elm is located directly at the entrance of Sant Elm, but although the coast is rocky, but you’ll find access to sandy beaches throughout the village. Coves invite great snorkeling, paddle boarding and rock climbing. A lucky few will catch a glimpse of mountain goats that live in the woods nearby. Streetside parking is available for free (although in summer not easy to find, especially on the weekends), or choose a municipal lot that charges by the day. Be sure to stay for sunset, which is particularly beautiful here.
Living in Sant Elm #
Thanks to its remote location at the end of a narrow dead-end road, Sant Elm has managed to conserve much of its original charm. If you consider buying property here, keep in mind this is strictly a summer place. In winter you are lucky if you find an open bar here.
#Mallorca #Majorca #SantElm #SantElmo
By Ulla Rahn-Huber
8 June, 2020