Nine million tourists visit Majorca every year, and it's easy to see why. The Spanish island is small enough to make every area accessible but big enough to provide plenty of variety. From prawn paella in one of the newly popular Ibiza-style beach clubs to tender lamb cooked in a wood-burning stove in a traditional mountain lodge, Majorca has it covered.
In property, too, there are homes for most budgets, from fincas — rural properties — to waterfront apartments. Several million pounds will buy a sleek, contemporary glass-and-steel penthouse in the millionaire marinas along the south-west coast at Andratx and Puerto Portals, while £136,500 will bag a budget apartment close to the sandy calas — coves — of the more seasonal east coast.
The less-known south coast
The rocky southern coastline has not been a traditional area for British buyers, but Germans and Spaniards know it well. The proximity to the year-round capital Palma — and its modern airport 15 minutes away — are particular selling points, as are the prices, up to a third of those in the prime south-west, says Christina Deutsch of Engel & Völkers.
"This coast has few sandy beaches but good sea access, plenty of golf courses close by and good views across to Palma," she comments. "The clear water is good for snorkeling and the sunsets are spectacular."
A two-bedroom apartment built in 2001 at Cala Pi in a complex with indoor and outdoor pools is £232,000 through Engel & Völkers. The second floor, 968sq ft sea-front flat has parking and a storage room and monthly maintenance charges of £96.
Nearby, an attractive and well-modernised three-bedroom stone house with pool and easily maintained garden is £558,140, including furniture. A substantial and solid four-bedroom house in need of modernisation at Bahia Grande with secluded gardens, pool and sea views seems particularly good value at £441,700, both through Engel & Völkers.
The north coast, the established favourite
Pollensa in the north is a hotspot for British buyers and holidaymakers, averaging seven hours sunshine each day, even in October. This is top for rentals on Majorca: David Cameron took a house just outside the town with his family this summer, touring the island's beaches by minibus.
The range on offer in the north includes newly built two-bedroom apartments from Taylor Wimpey for £221,165, up to a £40.15 million villa with its own helipad through Sotheby's.
A prime three-bedroom waterfront apartment on the Pine Walk, the most prestigious beachfront area of Port Pollensa, can reach £1.6 million. A compact but attractive three-bedroom, second-floor apartment is reduced from £522,000 to £393,500, while a substantial four-bedroom house with exceptional views over Pollensa Bay is £1.56 million through Engel & Völkers.
Sea views can add as much as 75 per cent to the value of a property, says Frank Heinsbroek of Engel & Völkers, so travel inland to get more space for your money. In Campanet, 20 minutes from Pollensa and a 10-minute walk from the village centre with views to the Tramuntana Mountains, a beautiful four-bedroom house is for sale with all furniture for £1.124 million.
The property was built by a London-based antique dealer who has lavished attention on recreating authentic Majorcan design with fabulous vaulted ceilings and reclaimed wooden doors. In the olive-oil-producing village of Caimari, 40 minutes from Palma, a five-bedroom townhouse with pool and a mini-bodega — corner store — in the complex, is £799,000, also through Engel & Völkers. The quiet three-floor house is a former convent dating from 350 years ago.
Stuart Bassett owns a construction company in Majorca, working mainly in upmarket Andratx in the south-west. He prefers rural living and owns a beautiful finca inland in Santa Eugenia. "It is only 15 minutes from the airport yet feels in the middle of nowhere," says Stuart. "The countryside provides natural beauty and a chance to mix with the locals." It also means he and his wife Caroline can have an organic garden, including lemon, lime, apricot and peach trees.
Stuart paid £150,000 for the land and ruined farmhouse in 1997 and spent £500,000 on it. With two teenage daughters at school in Palma he is moving to the capital and his house is for sale at £1 million.
Building a family home in Port Pollensa
After owning on the island for 15 years, Felicity and Paul Dunstall from Biddenden, Kent, built a large family house above Port Pollensa in 2008. They keep a yacht in the marina and spend most afternoons slowly touring the coastline.
"The beauty of this location is that the wind is always onshore and there's no tide, so sailing is easy," says Paul, a former motorbike racer turned bike manufacturer whose clients included actor Steve McQueen. "Pollensa is very sociable and family friendly. We know 10 times more people here than we do in Kent."
Their four-bedroom house has perfect views over a bird sanctuary to Pollensa Bay. But with adult daughters based around the world, whom they visit for much of the year, the Dunstalls are reluctantly selling. The Dunstalls' house is for sale at £1.566 million through Engel & Völkers.
* VAT in Spain: increased from 18 to 21 per cent as of September 2012.
* Buying costs: Allow 11 per cent.
* Capital gains tax: Any one buying property in Spain in 2012 will get a 50 per cent reduction on capital gains tax whenever they sell their property.
* Engel & Völkers: 0800 917 6095, 0034 971 621 629, mallorca-north.com, engelvoelkers.com/mallorca
* Sothebys Mallorca: 0034 971 67 48 07, mallorca-sothebysrealty.com
* Taylor Wimpey: 0800 012 1020, taylorwimpeyspain.com