Playa de Palma - Epicentre of German party tourismThe party season only comes once a year. ‘Malle’ is when swarms of low-cost flights take thousands of young Germans into party-exile on the nation's favourite island. For the meagre duration of their holiday, in a bizarre fug somewhere between the beer tent and the mega-nightclub, party-hungry tourists sway to the permanent clamour of pop songs echoing across the beach. Full lager shelves in the supermarkets and countless kebab shops with cheap blingy neon signs see to it that the German palate doesn't have to come into contact with foreign flavours. And if the alcohol from the previous night doesn't mix well with the sun, which beats down relentlessly on the pale tourists' bodies, there's always the bog-standard room in the low budget hotel ghetto where they can fight the hangover. Are these all just clichés? German 'Ballermann' holidaymakers have gained a reputation over decades, which stands as a symbol for Majorcan tourism, but which doesn't do the beach itself justice in the slightest. This is because ‘party miles’ like the one known by Germans as "Schinkenstraße" are by no means all that the Bay of Palma has to offer.
The six kilometre long strip of soft sand is by far the longest beach on the island and lies in the large Badia de Palma in the southern part of the island. Depending on the section of beach, the old town of Palma is more or less 15 kilometres away and can be reached quickly via the motorway. Numbered, almost identical-looking kiosks on the promenade, known as 'Balnearios', divide Playa de Palma into a total of 15 sections. Kiosk Number One marks the start and is situated in the holiday resort of Es Arenal. The numbers rise as you move north-west and end with Kiosk Number 15 to the south of the island's airport in the small town of Can Pastilla. The stretch that has become known as 'Ballermann', with the party streets of Schinkenstraße and Bierstraße and the mega-nightclubs Megapark and Riu Palace, can be found around Balneario 6.
Hotels have been built all along the beach, some of them massive, and they carry on back for a few blocks. Finely furnished accommodation with landscaped pools and modern guest rooms are now just as much a part of the scene as the simple hotels with concrete balcony-covered façades. The wide promenade is lined with numerous souvenir shops, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, snack bars and cafés and the same is true here - alongside currywurst and kebab stalls you will find lovingly designed restaurants in modern, tasteful settings that serve high-quality dishes.
The beach itself is equipped with numerous sun loungers and beach umbrellas, which you can hire if you want to relax by the water. Several water sports operators offer the chance to try windsurfing and kitesurfing, amongst other things.
Particularly in the north-west part of the beach you'll find couples of all ages who come to soak up the sun and relax. The sand, which slopes gently into the calm water, makes Playa de Palma an attractive destination for families too. Lifeguards ensure the safety of bathers along the whole beach. Between the beach umbrellas, loungers and towels you'll keep coming across street vendors and massage tents. Young party tourists mainly gather around Balneario Six. The local authorities have been trying for years to set limits on the rampant partying and have, for example, banned drinks buckets on the beach. Since then the rampant partying has shifted more and more away from the beach and into the clubs and bars.