When Americans travel to Europe, they tend to go to Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, and other culturally and historically significant places. When Europeans travel, they go to Ibiza. Well, not all of them, and not every time, but the third biggest Balearic island has enormous appeal: the sea seems bluer, the beaches whiter, and the nightlife more glamorous. About 1.8 million Brits, Germans, Italians, and French visit the island every year.
Eivissa, the island’s capital, has been the number one Mediterranean hotspots for years. International DJs serve in-clubs and music festivals attract the biggest stars in the business.
Despite this there is another Ibiza, a hilly island of unspoiled nature, with remote, quiet places and a rough coastline with romantic beaches on almost private bays. The Mediterranean Sea glistens turquoise and water temperatures generally do not drop below 59°F. Ibiza’s climate is extremely mild, the summer has average temperatures of about 79°F, and in winter it is still 54°F on average. The best time to travel is off-season, as this is your best chance to have the beaches to yourself and not have the brilliant view obscured by sun umbrellas.
Apart from the large tourist centers (Eivissa, San Antonio, and Santa Eulària) the island is scarcely populated. In the country you will find small villages with traditional fincas, and even in the touristy towns you won’t be shoved into large, concrete hotels, since building development is strictly regulated as not to lose its charm and unique character. Measures have been taken, though, to adapt to the large number of tourists: infrastructure is excellent, the road network is exceptionally good (there is even a highway linking the airport to Eivissa), and you won’t drive on dirt roads except in the hilly hinterland.
Ibiza’s enormous popularity among the European high society is reflected in the number of yacht marinas spread all over the island. One of the most luxurious is in Santa Eurlària where you can also find exclusive shops and art galleries. The best fashions boutiques are to be found in Eivissa, where international top labels and local up-and-coming designers offer the latest trends. Especially the local designers often use Spanish leather and velours, which are supposedly the best quality in the world.
While in Eivissa, check the ferry schedules for Formentera, Ibiza’s little sister, which is a great day trip destination.
San Antonio, another popular tourist town, revolves around one of the most beautiful natural harbors in Europe and its lovely promenade. There is also a fortified church from the 14th century, open for visit. San Antonio also claims to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, and the town’s most photographed motif is a sculpture of the Egg of Columbus with the Santa Maria in the center, commemorating the discovery of America.
Other island towns to spend your vacation in are much smaller, but also very popular among families. Portinatx in the north and Es Canar in the east are picturesque little towns with gorgeous beaches. Should you stay in one of the bigger towns, it is still a good idea to check out the smaller ones, e.g. Es Canar on a Wednesday when there is a quirky traditional hippie market.
Far away from music and martinis you can explore the undiscovered Ibiza: a large network of cycling and walking trails takes you through quiet pine forests and over hills (the highest one, Sa Talaia, rises 1550 ft. above the sea) and remote bays. You don’t generally have to be worried about exploring the island on your own, there are no poisonous snakes or spiders waiting in the brush. Vegetation is dominated by lavender and juniper trees, wild cacti, fig trees and carobs. The medieval salines south-west of the airport, are a bird reserve, open for visit.
Come Sunday you might want to head to Cala Benirras in the northern part of the island; when night falls local musicians perform traditional drum music. During the day take your swimfins and snorkel out to the rocks off the shore, where you will encounter a unique underwater world.