Maritime Excursions

Pleasure boats known as "golondrinas" represent a sector with great potential that explores new types of offers.

In the Balearic Islands, the term "golondrina" is used to refer to a kind of pleasure boat, which is well known in the islands since tourism plays an important role in the Balearic economy. This type of boat is part of the Balearic landscape since the beginning of tourism in the islands in the 60's. But it has undergone a radical change in terms of its design and the quality of the excursions offered.


At the very beginning, the boats used to make maritime excursions for tourists, were typical Majorcan wood boats known as "llaüts", which were originally used to fish but were converted into pleasure boats. Lateral thwarts were added on the main deck so that tourists could sit on them. In those days there was not a legally established maximum number of passengers allowed. That was a great opportunity for all fishermen who saw the possibility of increasing their earnings, changing from primary sector to service sector.

But everything is much more organized when referring to the Balearic Maritime Businessmen Provincial Association (APEAM), which embraces the Delegated Commission to Maritime Excursions where most of the companies of this sector are represented. APEAM is made up of different professional collectives such as, shipyards, charters, consignees, Dockers, tug and shipping companies. The number of associated companies reaches up to 150; 40 of them carry out maritime excursions, which means almost a third of the total. This figure reveals the importance of this sector.

In the last few years, the fleet of these pleasure boats has evolved so much, that nowadays, those first improvised pleasure boats of the 60's have disappeared into oblivion. The first changes consisted in building fiber boats, which were equipped with most modern elements of each era. The most recent changes are characterized by the proliferation of designs made to satisfy the client. An example of these new boats is glass-bottom catamarans, which allow an underwater view to clients. They are very stable due to their two-hull effect, which makes them very roomy too, because their beam is much wider than their length in comparison to single hull boats. There are therefore much more comfortable and spacious and that increases the quality of their services.

Another important type of catamaran of this sector is the one that replaces the motor with sails. These catamarans have consolidated their base in different points of the islands, with Palma de Mallorca as their main centre of operations. The motto is to combine the beauty of the excursion with concepts such as adventure or ecological sailing. Nowadays there are many companies, which offer this product, but at the beginning, only one company started to develop it in 1998, settling down in the Majorcan capital. Its initiative was successful and they realized that the seascape was the appropriate, because the wind blows moderately in the bay of Palma, which allows them to organize scheduled excursions.

This type of catamaran is an example of creativity and diversification, but we have to bear in mind that before that, the latest innovation was the submarine of Magalluf (Calvià). This submarine seems to be a normal thing nowadays, but in the 90's there was not such a thing in the Majorcan coast. A lot of people were doubtful of its succsses, because to be able to enjoy the submarine, tourits had to pay a bit more than when enjoying other types of pleasure boats. But all those doubts disappeared because from the very beginning, the submarine has been successful, carrying out up to four excursions per day in high season.

The incorporation of new types of pleasure boats is not the only resource to attract clients. It is essential to offer new excursions in beautiful areas, which can determine the success of a project and has allowed the creation of "golondrinas" companies in the most beautiful areas of our coastline. The most significant example in this sense is the excursion from the little town of Sóller to the cove of Sa Calobra. A lot of people have done it and all of them agree that it is really worth it. But even such a consolidated excursion counts on new initiatives. Companies responsible for this excursion are succeeding with a new excursion called "vuelta isla" which consists in using the same pleasure boats and road transport for two different tourist groups. One of these groups goes from Palma to Sóller by train. In Sóller they sail with the " golondrinas " until Sa Calobra, where a bus is waiting to take them back to Palma through a beautiful landscape. The other group, on the other hand, makes the excursion the other way round, which means starting the excursion by bus and finishing it by train. There are 120 legal pleasure boats in the Balearic Islands. It is estimated that 1.200,000 tourists enjoy this option per season and three or four people work in each boat, besides all the people who work for these companies on land.