Since we’re musing on music this week, and the Ibiza closing parties are looming on the event horizon, we thought we’d spend Friday pondering the other – quieter, greener, more grown-up – side of Ibizan-island life. (NB If you’re the ‘I party-hard, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, and I wanna stay up till dawn with all my best mates’ type, look away now. Better still, look here, and plan yourself a big fun holiday with aforementioned best mates or check out our new Ibiza Villas here)
So, setting aside for moment the fact that this Balearic beat-box is best known for its big-name DJs and fiesty up-all-night attitude, let’s peek round the side of the main stage at a world of hidden holiday pleasures. To show you around, we’ve asked Ibiza insider Cila Warncke to guest blog for us and share her top 10 secrets from the other side. Need some credentials? Cila is a former editor of Ibiza Voice, a freelance writer for Mixmag, as well as a contributing editor to Ibiza Now, and bloggista on electronic music for MSN.
CILA WARNCKE’S TOP 10: HIDDEN IBIZA
Ibiza is easy to love but hard to describe. Not because its charms have been picked clean but because there is simply too much to tell; too many revelations to adequately unfold. Every visit offers new delights: a perfect sunset, an amazing restaurant or an unforgettable vista. Here’s a top-10 list of my favourite things – try them, then go explore and discover your own moments of island magic…
1. Historic outing: Es Broll
As you drive through the lush heart of the island, past the quaint cafés of Santa Gertrudis towards the hamlet of Santa Agnes, there’s a left-hand turn with a small sign: Es Broll. Take the snaking dirt track slowly and history gently unfolds. Es Broll is a freshwater spring, more precious than gold on this tiny, salt-flecked isle. Descending into the valley, the green of the surrounding pines bursts into jungle hues: glossy-leaved citrus, dusky olive trees and rich red soil. Wander through the Moorish irrigation trenches where water flows as seamlessly as Ibiza’s history.
2. Sunset spot: Sunset Ashram, Cala Comte
Sunset-spotters are spoilt for choice in Ibiza, but it’s worth knowing where the locals go: Cala Comte. The westernmost point of the island, this unbearably pretty little beach boasts an untrammelled view of the horizon, across a sea banded with hues of turquoise, ink, emerald and blue. I was an old Ibiza hand by the time I first saw Cala Comte, and it left me speechless; watching a golden sunset from the broad veranda of Sunset Ashram is the next best thing to heaven.
3. Food with a view: Studio, Sa Penya
Crouched at the foot of the hilltop fortress of Dalt Vila is Sa Penya, a cheerfully raggle-taggle neighbourhood full of abrupt cobbled cul-de-sacs, disreputable characters and hip bars. In the thick of the action (behind Angelo’s famous gay disco, around the corner from über-cool Italian watering hole Noctambula) is Studio, presided over by supremely gifted culinary prima donna David. His sumptuous meals are the stuff of foodie delight (try the duck or venison, followed by exquisite home-made bread pudding or chocolate terrine) – the romantic, starlit terrace alone makes it worth a visit.
4. Adventure hike: Es Cavallet/Playa d’en Bossa
To experience wild, untamed Ibiza, pack a bottle of water, lace up your trainers and trek the pine-clad promontory separating Playa d’en Bossa and Es Cavallet. You won’t need a compass or map – just keep the sea to your left (if walking from Playa d’en Bossa) or right (from Es Cavallet). It’s a two-hour hike through deserted pine woods and stunning headlands with the surf booming at your feet. You need to be nimble but the trail is easy to follow and not too steep. One word of advice: keep your eye out for the huge spiderwebs occasionally cast between the bushes. You don’t want to get tangled up with their owners!
5. Aquatic excursion: boat to Es Vedra and Atlantis
Es Vedra might just be Ibiza’s most famous landmark, and you don’t have to believe the stories about UFOs and mysterious magnetic forces to be entranced by the limestone islet towering just off the west coast of the island. To fully appreciate this silent sentinel, hire an inflatable motorboat from Cala d’Hort beach (no licence necessary); take a leisurely circuit of Es Vedra and nearby Es Vedranell before cruising along the Ibicenco shoreline until you find the hippie hideaway of Atlantis – a legendary swimming spot best approached by sea.
6. Beach café: On The Beach, Cala St Vicent
From the moment you sink into the sun-dappled daybeds on the terrace you know you’re in for a treat. Overlooking the beautiful pearl sands of Cala St Vicent, On The Beach is a world-class café. Start with a perfect mojito (or go for Copacabana kitsch with a giant piña colada) then tuck into one of their inventive sandwiches like avocado, rocket and fried sage or parmesan, pear and rosemary oil – served on a perfectly toasted seed roll – or try the sublime seafood salad, followed by a home-made pud. They have WiFi and lots of space for kids, so plenty of excuse to stay all day.
7. Wine-tasting: Bodegas Can Rich
Wine-making in Ibiza dates back to the Phoenician times, but only in recent years have the island’s vineyards been producing serious, international-class wine. One of the best vintners is Bodega Can Rich, readily available in shops across the island and a favourite with Ibicenco sommeliers. Generally they have an open day on Monday, but email or call before popping in to enjoy a tour around the 20-hectare site, wine-tasting, and an explanation of the techniques used to produce their range of organic wines, cold-pressed olive oils and hierbas ibicencas – Ibiza’s traditional anise-seed liqueur.
8. Free-wheeling: Cycling
There is no substitute for getting up close and personal with the Ibicenco scenery, and no better way to do so than by bicycle. You can easily hire bikes and gear in Ibiza Town, Sant Antoni or Santa Eularia, or even rent a scooter if you’re really lazy. Then pick a route from the Ibiza cycle tourism website. Short road routes to Platges de Comte and Des Porquet on the west coast are perfect for families with kids. Adrenalin junkies can shriek down the cobbled streets of Dalt Vila or tackle the appropriately-named Ibiza Extreme, which tumbles and twists through the south of the island.
9. Perfect picnic: Port Sant Miquel
Sant Miquel is a pretty but unremarkable resort beach with pedalos and bland cafés. Ignore them. Look for a hand-painted wooden sign saying ‘beach bar’, and follow the arrow up a short trail. In minutes, the path opens into a secluded nook, lined with wooden boat huts, overlooking a mottled blue-green cove of crystalline water. Wind whispers in the wild pines, the sea shushes against the shore and the only other sound is the chatter of Spanish kids sunning themselves on the rocks. Open a hamper full of olives, manchego cheese, fresh bread and cava for a picnic in paradise.
10. Day trip: Formentera
If Ibiza is the belle of the Balearics, Formentera is her dazzling little sister, who slips into the party and steals the show. Half as long as its fellow Illes Pitiuses (the collective name for the pair references their pine-clad hills) it distils the natural beauty of Ibiza into tiny, perfect slice of Mediterranean bliss. The sea is bluer, the sand whiter, the air purer, the whirring of the cicadas even more powerfully hypnotic. Doze on the dunes of Illetes, enjoy a fantastic meal at Juan y Andrea’s world-famous seafood shack or hire a push-bike for eco-friendly exploring.