I have always had a rather generic idea of what Ibiza would be like. A sort of blended together version of the party holidays of my twenties to Faliraki, Kavos and Bodrum, with a sprinkle of whoop whoop hands in the air-ing, and a Pacha cherry on the top. It has always felt, like Glastonbury, one of those places I feel like I should have 'done' , which perhaps I missed in it's prime. But in recent years, hearing that Ibiza is reinventing itself in its authentic 70's holistic image, myself and Andy my husband decided now could be the time to try it. Our holiday choices often revolve around ‘being where other people are not’ and as the kids approach their teens they are beginning to find this a less than successful (read boring) template. So Ibiza caused some excitement. ( I didn't tell them about the holistic reinvention).
What we discovered was TOO fantastic. The most beautiful wild beaches, and not just in the supposedly more decorous north but down south too; Amazing 'beach clubs' (uber chic restaurants on the beach, rather than the beach clubs of my youth that generally consisted of 'premixed sex on the beach cocktails and the Macarena); Markets to please everyone; And a boho buzz rather than a hands in the air woop. Yes the clubbing is still there if you want it but it’s just one part now of a much bigger picture. We LOVED it all. Here’s the lowdown of my favourite everything:
We stay in two Airbnb's: one south in the hills of Sant Josep de Sa Talaia, and one north in the forest around Sant Joan de Labritja. Yes the kids have issues with the lack of a hotel breakfast, but they are soon won over by the killer swimming pools and the space. Our Sant Josep house is whitewashed, high ceilinged and streams with light, while our San Joan finca is low level and rustic, with lots of history, with a huge infinity pool. Totally gorgeous, but a car is essential, as both are the definition of 'off the beaten track' holidaying. (We used OK mobility).
The expansive beach of Salinas on the island's southern tip is beautiful but shared with the masses. We go off road to find more rustic beaches: Down south we love Cala D'Hort with its retro Italian seaside vibe, and Cala Moli with excellent snorkling; On the north of the island rustic beaches rule: we visit Cala Benirras with it's hippy vibe and beachside market, Cala Xarraca where we clamber over rocks to reach a hidden bay, and Cala Mastella, a tiny cove surrounded by forest, with a traditional seafood chiringuito on the beach. But there are many more to be discovered. Tip: Take sea shoes- these are adventurous beaches.
Food is a big deal in Ibiza- whether you want beach 'clubs' where you can move from a daybed to evening meal, a rural restaurant, or tapas in a town square. For beach clubs we loved cuban feeling Aiyanna, El Silencio on Cala Moli beach with its California poolside vibe, and the sand between your toes chic of the Jockey club on Salinas beach. Paloma is a gorgeous rural farm to table restaurant, with mismatched plates and a Tuscan countryside feel, and Giri cafe in Sant Joan has tomato plants growing through the restaurant gardens. Santa Gertrudis's square is full of traditional Spanish bocadillo (sandwich) bars , and Ibiza old town has scenic tapas venues, including S'Escalinata where we sit on beanbags going up the old town steps. Eating out as a family in Ibiza isn't cheap, so we also have a few barbecues with enormous prawns and steak for a fraction of the price.
Ibiza moves at a sleepy pace, particularly during the first half of the day, but there are activities to be found for the energetic. We hire self drive boats from San Antonio for a day (from Open Boats) and snorkel around the west side of the island. (Formentera is a popular day trip if you have a skipper) Andy hires a road bike from Ibiza Sport and does a morning lap around the north west. 'Spectacular' is his verdict; we take his word for it while lying poolside. A big event in Ibiza is watching the sun set on the west of the island, accompanied by nightly drumming at Benirras beach, or DJ sets with sunset cocktails at Cafe Mambo in San Antonio. We were a week late for Fatboy Slim but it still ticked the Ibiza club vibe box. On a creative note I get an art fix at El Silencio, which exhibits rotating art installations.
You don't shop in Ibiza for bargains. It's high end, and full of luxe independent designers. Most beach clubs have boutiques attached (my favourite being Hungarian slow fashion brand Nanuska at El Silencio) and Ibiza Old town is lined with boutique stores. St Gertrudis has chic lifestyle stores like l_Mental and shop/cafe La Maison no74, and just outside the town is the eccentric Sluiz store that sells quirky home and fashion that entertains the kids long enough to allow a browse. And of course we can't visit Ibiza without visiting the markets. We go to the famous hippy night market at Las Dalias which runs three evenings a week, and the Sunday artisan market at St Joan.
Ibiza was a total discovery for us, with more beaches than it's possible to visit, more fabulous restaurants than it's possible to eat at, and a bohemian vibe that manages to be both lively and chilled out in equal measures. And the North South divide? We loved both sides. I'm already planning our return.
Thank you for reading! and a big thank you to everyone who tipped me off on places to check out in Ibiza - Please do comment if you enjoy- my comment box hasn't been working so I would love to hear what you think- and of course add on other great places that I didn't reach!