Before its long natural beaches and vibrant atmosphere became the main source of tourist income, Ca’n Picafort survived as a small fishing town supplying local inland villages of Muro and Santa Margalida, which today make up the Municipality of Santa Margalida.
From about 100 years ago inhabitants from these local villages began to build summer homes in Ca’n Picafort, and tourism began to be seen as a way of diversifying the economy from its main but failing income from agriculture. The original tourist area was developed in what is now known as Son Baulò, while the present centre of Ca’n Picafort became established in the 1960’s. Today there is still a small working fishing harbour,where you can go and watch the fishermen land their catch each weekday morning, but where once there were miles of sand dunes, now there are hotels and restaurants.
Ca’n Picafort provides a good base from which to explore the rich history and culture of Mallorca evident in the many local Mediaeval churches and freely accessible archeological sites. Muro, which has a particularly Moorish ambience and architecture, and Santa Margalida with its narrow streets, have particularly un-touristy atmospheres and tend to come to life in the early mornings and evenings during the summer months.
Geographically there is a significant change in the landscape – no longer protected by the mountains of the north the land becomes more open and windswept with lower rolling hills, perfect for hiking and cycling, and the stronger sea breezes bring waves to the beaches. Windsurfing, kiteboarding and traditional surfing are all popular along this stretch of the bay.
If you walk the 6 kilometre stretch of wild beach between Son Baulò and Son Serra de Marina, you will pass the Son Real Necrópolis (Cemetery of the Phoenicians) dating right back to the Talaiotic Period and the Son Real finca, a working farmhouse and museum with lots of information about the local plants and wildlife that you will see long the way. As you approach Son Serra there are obelisk towers placed at regular intervals along the beach, said to have been used as navigational aids during the 19th Century, but having more of an appearance of solemn watchtowers and a hint of the constant threat of invasion from the sea.
Amazingly access to all these ancient monuments is free and unregulated – you can literally touch history. The Ayuntamiento of Santa Margalida has recently recognised the value of these historical sites and has pledged to make more information available, as well as to celebrate their rich heritage by staging art and sculpture exhibitions by local artists along the promenade and presenting a new Saladina Art Fest during October.