The autopista becomes the C79 just west of Magaluf. From here you can go south to thus-far unspoiled Portals Vells. Alternatively, you can head west, passing Son Ferrer and El Toro – two lifeless urbanizaciones, the latter of which has a small marina, Port Adriano, and a luxury hotel – before running along a wild stretch of coast and reaching Santa Ponça, where Jaume I stepped ahore in 1229, planting his flag and marking the start of the Reconquest of the Balearics. The event is marked by a tall stone cross, carved with reliefs at its base, which stands on the headland at the southern tip of the bay, and the Capilla de la Piedra Sagrada, where the first Christian mass was held.
But no one comes to Santa Ponça for its historical significance – this is a resort plain and simple, favoured by Brits, dominated by a number of characterless package tour-packed hotels and some truly hideous places to eat. Santa Ponça’s saving grace is its beach, which is long, with fine white sand leading out into a clear, shallow bay.
Santa Ponça sprawls into Peguera, but to get there you will need to get back on the C719. Peguera is less depressingly downmarket than Santa Ponça, with almost entirely German-run shops, restaurants and bratwurst stalls. The three beaches here (one disfigured by the high-rise hotel looming behing it) are well kept and there is a pleasant promenade and a part-pedestrianised main street, El Bulevar de Peguera, lines with tacky shops.
If you fancy a (tiny) beach, take a left at the roundabout just after the Bulevar and head to Cala Fornells, a pint-size and unexpectedly delightful little place on the other side of the bay. The road threads through Aldea Cala Fornells, where cute private villas tumble down the hillside in a picturesque, colourful jumble, before reaching Cala Fornells, with its postage stamp-sized sandy beach, some concreted rocks on which to sunbathe and two big hotels.
From Cala Fornells it’s a short drive back on the C719 to Camp de Mar, nestled in a perfect little bay, with a small slice of beach and clear, calm waters. The idyllic setting is disfigured somewhat by three enormous hotels right on the seafront and, sprinkled over the pine-forested hills behind, a number of large private villas – Claudia Schiffer and Michael Schumacher are among their owners. There’s little to do here other than laze around, which is, of course, why people come. A row of small shops on a pedestrianised street leads down to the sea and a number of decent restaurants, which, though mobbed during the day, are appealing at night as many people eat in their hotels.