You’ll probably have preconceptions about Ibiza: jam-packed clubs, rowdy crowds, a hedonistic lifestyle. But there’s a whole other side to this Balearic island, too: a tranquil, laid-back, beautiful one. Just 10 minutes' drive from the carousing of San Antoni or Eivissa, Ibiza unfolds into glorious cove beaches and a simple, rural landscape. Empty winding roads, aromatic pine forests, meticulously ploughed fields and row upon row of orange, almond and olive trees sit alongside craggy rocks and dry stone walls. Goats wander untethered down rough tracks.
You can drive from one end of the island to the other in just over an hour, so hire a car and zip about. Head north to Santa Eularia for walking and secluded beaches in the northeast; drive east to Eivissa’s Old Town and wander through its Unesco-listed cobbled streets up to Dalt Vila (the medieval walled city) and the cliff-top cathedral; meander your way south to the salt plains and nudist beaches, or spend a day in sleepy Formentera.
Ibiza has over 50 beaches, many of them tiny coves only accessible by boat or Stand-Up Paddleboard. Of the ones that are easier to get to, these are our favourites:
1. Cala d'en Serra (pictured), near the tiny resort of Portinatx is postcard-perfect: azure waters backed by golden sand and pine trees. There’s a tiny beach bar serving fresh grilled fish and burgers, and not a lot else - bring water with you, plus snorkelling gear and good shoes; it’s a steep climb down.
2. Benirras. If you’re here on a Sunday, head to Benirras in the northeast. One of the more well-known beaches, it’s generally busy but we love the bohemian atmosphere and family-friendly vibe, and on Sundays, as the sun sets behind the Cap Bernat rock, bongo drummers bid it farewell.
3. Agua Blanca, also in the northeast, is a locals' favourite - an official nudist beach, but we kept our Speedos on and no one seemed to mind. On the far left is its hidden satellite beach; you’ll need to wade through crystal clear waters or swim round to reach it. It’s a great spot to watch sunrise, and during the day there’s a rustic chiringuito bar serving bocadillos and cold beers.
S’Escalinata means ‘The Staircase’ - and that’s exactly what this rustic little cafe in Eivissa's Old Town is. Stone steps in a little backstreet, strewn with bright beanbag cushions and low tables. Linger over homemade focaccia and sharing plates of charcuterie, local olives and garlicky hummus, or drink icy sangrias and zesty mojitos as the sun sets.
1. Sluiz Ibiza is a colourful warehouse-style store owned by a Dutch couple. We adored its eclectic home accessories (bright Moroccan crockery, faux-fur cushions) displayed on neon-pink stands, alongside covetable upcycled furniture, cowskin rugs and glittery vintage frocks.
Photo by Benjamin de Wolff.
2. La Galeria Elefante is a gorgeous collection of decorative pieces, homeware, accessories and unique clothing. Their vintage floral crowns and hair jewels are just the thing for instant Ibiza style, and of course you should buy a hammock chair to take home and transform your garden!
Forget the West Coast, Cafe del Mar experiences; this is where those in the know go.
1. Experimental Beach Ibiza at Cap des Falco (on the Ses Salines salt flats) is perfectly placed for the view, gazing right out over the Med to the mysterious Es Vedra rock. Laze on a sunbed and drink Sacochaca cocktails out of conch shells.
2. Cotton Beach Club on Cala Tarida is a stunning panoramic-view restaurant duo. We love the sushi and sashimi in the hip rooftop bar; perfect with a glass of fizz as the sun goes down. This is also a great place for lunch.
Head to Atzaro's beach club in Es Canar with your kids (see their website for 'Family Programme' times, which differ according to the season). There are kite-building and flying workshops, beach volleyball and football competitions, and regular slots of live music. The restaurant has a Kids Corner with games and painting, and little ones will love the burgers and trying tapas flavours.
Ibiza Horse Valley is a sanctuary in the natural park of Es Murta, created to save, house and rehabilitate mistreated horses. The horses can live wild or domestically, and as they become more tame, they are slowly schooled so they can be ridden or given a new owner. You can visit the horses and go trekking through the stunning northeastern hills and canyons, even overnight camping with them.
Locals say so. Classy and elegant, Ama Lur is the place to go for a special meal (Carretera de San Miguel, KM2.300). Imaginative dishes include turbot with calvados apples, pink pepper-encrusted sirloin of lamb with a sesame and honey glaze, and caramelised French toast with orange ice cream, and there's a small but excellent wine list. Closed Wednesdays.
Photo by Tania M.S
The best spa on the island is undisputedly Atzaro’s, a beautiful temple structure of peaceful treatment rooms admist lotus-filled ponds, trickling fountains and Balinese stone statues. There’s a thermal circuit, a Bubbles Bar serving natural juices, and decadent Natura Bisse facials. Whether or not you stay here (and if you can get availability, do), come for a day spa and relax with the glitterati.
Pistachio, dulce leche, watermelon... whetever flavour you're craving, head to Punto G's for the best ice cream on the island. Made from natural ingredients (wholly? Mainly? Who cares), it's a great place to escape the midday sun.
Putter to this tiny island by ferry or charter boat, then hire a bike to explore. Its pristine beaches and clear waters offer wonderful diving, or you can cycle through virgin woods to reach the lighthouses at La Mola and Es Cap de Barberia. There's a superb artisan market in town every Wednesday and on Sunday afternoons.