Even if it had wanted to, the letter M could not have done anything to prevent the greasy stigma that it has been lumped with. Whenever ‘sun, sea, sand and sambucas’ are mentioned, the poor letter M is maimed. It began with the Mediterranean Sea, before Marbella, Malia and Mallorca all waded in on a tourism boom, and the diamante jewel in the crown: Magaluf. It’s not the letter M’s fault.
These destinations have become synonymous with excess, a reputation for overindulgence and a culture centred around nightlife and alcohol, sustained almost solely by tourism. But can this really be the bottom line on Mediterranean getaways? Is it fair to consign them to a scrap heap of sunburnt bodies and empty beer bottles, to write them off as spent locations?
Mallorca Weather is gorgeous, as is that in Malta, Malia and Marbella. In fact, the whole Mediterranean region benefits from a sweltering climate, which is one of the most influential factors behind the area’s glut of popularity.
Moreover, these destinations are, generally, spectacular; face in one direction to savour lean, baked earth and feel the sun’s intense hum, turn the other way for a vista across a sparkling azure sea, the smell of weathered salt water upon the breeze, and the sound of waves lazily lapping against the shore.
Indeed, before the arrival of the beach chairs, bars and boozy louts, these were lands of rich resources. Remove the grubby fingerprint of tourism, and a landscape of beauty and culture still exists.
With influences from culinary giants like Italy, France, Greece and Spain, it is no surprise that Mediterranean cuisine is delectable. No, not the fish and chips from the beachfront cafe, but the tapas in Mallorca, the breads and cheeses of Malta, and the gourmet dining in Marbella. Just reading about it is enough to set one’s appetite on edge.
Then there’s the Mediterranean Sea itself, and the effect it has upon the traditions and lives of those who live by it. Islands like Mallorca and Malta are scattered with peaceful seaside towns that have resisted the onslaught of restaurants and bars, retaining their maze of winding cobbled streets that hide local cafes serving fresh fish and lead to the shore where leathery-faced fisherman consider their tangle of nets and catches of the day while basking in the midday sun.
Of course, Mediterranean beaches cannot be ignored; foreign tourists flock to them for good reason, and if you select wisely there are still a great many secret gems to be found. But there are also a number of little known walks in the Mediterranean region, both around coastlines and further inland; few visitors to Marbella take on La Concha, while it is all too easy to remain beached upon a deck chair in Malta rather than trek to see the Azure Window.
Ultimately, the raw fundamentals that provided the basis for the Mediterranean’s tourism boom have remained relatively unaffected, and while tourist hotspots are still thriving, there is much to discover off the beaten track in places like Malta, Malia, Marbella and Mallorca, with resources such as My Destination Mallorca proving there is more than sun, sea, sand and sambucas to the Mediterranean.