The White Island may have a formidable reputation as a party spot for clubbers, but there’s so much more to this Balearic isle than boozing and Brit bars. From deserted beaches to prehistoric cave paintings, there are so many sights to see – jump in a car and head to one of these beautiful places to discover the real Ibiza…
A quiet village in the north of the island, San Juan is set in the municipality of Sant Joan de Labritja, and is one of Ibiza’s hidden gems. Surrounded by pine tree-covered hills, San Juan is a sleepy rural haven, and the lack of activity there is its main draw. This is as authentic as Ibiza gets – the slow pace of life, tiny bars and cafes, and a village square. The whitewashed 18th-century church looms large over the village, but modern eateries like The Giri Cafe make for great places to eat, drink and take in the warm sun.
Though it’s only a short drive from buzzing San Antonio, Cala Salada beach is a welcome respite from its hectic neighbour. This small cove is home to a pretty strip of beach, with crystal clear waters and a refreshing lack of tourists. Take a walk along one of the rocky paths that line the coast, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, head out to see the Bronze age cave paintings at Ses Fontanelles.
Santa Gertrudis is another typical village, set in the centre of the island, with a whitewashed church overlooking the main square. Its arty past means that there are a few resident artists and creatives, locals and ex-pats alike. Recent development has meant that the village has taken on a more upmarket feel, and modern villas, cafes and bars line the streets. Try the cured ham and Manchego cheese at the historic Bar Costa, or indulge in a long leisurely breakfast at COMO, before browsing the many small boutiques for bargains.
A short walk from the pretty town of Es Caná, Cala Martina is a popular spot for divers, windsurfers and snorkelers. A sheltered beach on the east of the island, Cala Martina is family-friendly and not crowded like so many other resort stretches of coast. There are a few bars and restaurants, and a diving and windsurfing school for watersports fans. Es Caná is also home to the original ‘hippy market’, attracting thousands of visitors every Wednesday from April to October with food, crafts and live music.
One of Ibiza’s most isolated beaches, Cala Llentrisca is tricky to reach, but definitely worth the journey. Head to the south of the island, towards Cala d’es Cubells en Llentrisca, and from there leave the car behind and walk the rocky path for 2kms along the coast. The tiny strip of beach is remote, unspoilt and may well be yours alone for the day. Arrive early, before the sun dips behind the surrounding rocky cliffs, and stock up on supplies in Es Cubells – there are no facilities here!
Ses Salines National Park
At the southern tip of the island is one of Ibiza’s two National Parks, Ses Salines d’Eivissa i Formentera. This vast park includes the sea channel that separates Ibiza and Formentera, and includes a part of the neighbouring island. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the park is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, long stretches of beach, salt lakes, rocky coastlines and green forests. The park is also a haven for birdlife, with over 200 different species counted.
Es Vedrà and Es Vedranell Nature Reserve
This nature reserve includes of a series of tiny rocky islands off the south-west coast of Ibiza. The beach at Cala d’Hort is a great place to gaze out at the towering island of Es Vedrà – a legendary place said to have been home to the sirens who attempted to lure Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. The only inhabitants now are wild goats and lizards, and Es Vedrà and the surrounding islets make for a picturesque backdrop as the sunsets.