Text and photographs Elana Castle The Spanish island of Ibiza has something of a split personality. For four months of the year, the Balearic haven becomes the epicentre of the world’s clubbing scene. International DJs and music producers descend on the island to entertain music-lovers in some of the world’s most famous nightclubs, earning it a well- deserved reputation as a first-class party destination. Ibiza is equally popular among those in the know for its rugged green countryside, pristine beaches, gastronomic delights and yoga retreats. In essence, the island has something to offer everyone, and if you avoid one or two of the well-trodden tourist spots (read: San Antonio), you’re guaranteed a tranquil and effortlessly stylish Mediterranean escape.
AFTER DARK Even if you’re on Ibiza for a chilled-out holiday, you may still consider spending some time in one of the legendary nightclubs. Love Ibiza, Amnesia, Space, Pacha, DC10 and Privilege are the main protagonists, playing host to musical maestros until the wee hours of the morning. Space and Pacha are particularly popular because they are divided into a number of rooms, providing varied musical experiences. Privilege is a supersized industrial space with a 25-metre high ceiling, a huge pool and a knack for producing the island’s most impressive shows. If thronging along with frenetic crowds of people dancing to emotional music is not your thing, grab a cocktail and watch the action from the sidelines. In some of the clubs, the DJs play from elevated platforms as partygoers worship them from below – it’s a sight to behold.
SUN WORSHIP Ibiza is surrounded by clear, azure water – the kind that really takes your breath away. As expected, there is a range of glorious beaches and tranquil coves to explore. It’s a good idea to pick one that offers a nearby eatery if you plan to spend the day bathing and exploring. Es Torrent (estorrent.net) and Cala Salada offer fresh seafood served from their onsite restaurants. The Jockey Club (jockeyclubibiza.com) on Ses Salines beach is a legendary spot that serves casual food and plays live, chilled-out music compilations all day. To tap into the hippy Ibiza of the 1960s, visit Playa Benirras beach, which, in the late afternoon, plays host to drummers that bid a musical farewell to the sun – a popular Ibiza tradition. For an iconic sunset vista, head to Cala d’Hort or one of the many locations along the cliff edges for views of the monolithic rock, Es Vedrà. Finally, a lesser known but truly Ibizan sunset experience can be enjoyed at Cap d’es Falcó. It represents the ultimate in Ibiza style – an almost all-white ensemble of loungers and umbrellas, a rustic bar and a classy seafood restaurant on a secluded location in the national park of Ses Salines, which is also adjacent to the centuries-old saltpan nature reserve.
CULINARY INDULGENCE There’s a host of gastronomic options in Ibiza to complement the beach and clubbing scene, and enough to satisfy even the most demanding foodie. Fine-dining establishments La Plaza, Can Curreu, Ca’n Domingo de Ca’n Botja and Las Dos Lunas all come highly recommended. Two trendy island favourites are Blue Marlin, a stylish beach club (with villa accommodation), and KM5, a refurbished farmhouse and lounge bar with a cosmopolitan menu. There are also many casual, low-key spots to discover on the island. If salted fish is on offer, don’t hesitate – it is consistently tasty and competes with the famous Spanish paella for top honours.
DAY-TRIPPING As you drive north from Ibiza town, the terrain becomes hilly, lush countryside. Pine, almond, orange, lemon and olive trees, rocky formations, dry-packed stone walls and the odd private villa pepper the red, earthy farmlands. Villages here, such as Santa Gertrudis, are sparsely populated and generally move at a much slower pace than the rest of the island, which provides a tranquil holiday setting. Another idyllic option is the nearby island of Formentera, a quick ferry ride from the main port. Many agree that it is one of the last outposts of paradise in Europe. If after all the lazing and relaxing you fancy a cultural adventure, Ibiza Old Town (Dalt Vila), which has UNESCO world heritage status, is a fantastic place to explore on foot. Meander through the winding, steep cobbled streets and enjoy panoramic views from the breaks in the ramparts and the wide terraces. The dramatic, main entrance is up a slope and across a drawbridge through the Portal de Ses Taules, which is flanked by impressive statues and an ancient cobbled stone courtyard that opens onto the Plaza de Vila. The Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art can be found nearby in an old, converted 16th-century warehouse. The museum is home to a wide range of local modern art as well as works by celebrated Catalan artists like Antoni Tàpies.
FOR FASHIONISTAS Given the wealth of natural treasures and the supremely chilled-out vibe that permeates the island, it’s no surprise that Ibiza does not have a reputation as a shopping Mecca. But make no mistake, this is an island that embraces stylish living in all respects, and the town has its fair share of edgy boutiques, trendy stores and local markets. Most stores open late in the morning, close for siesta and then re- open for lengthy afternoon and evening shopping. Ibiza Town is the best place to explore the island’s retail offerings. Hippyesque, boho styles are complemented by cutting-edge, high-fashion branded club wear and young, rebellious, individual styles. Some good streets to shop (and people-watch) include Calle de la Cruz, Plaza del Parque, the port district of La Marina, Vara de Rey, the back streets of Calle de la Virgen (best late at night) and Avenida Ignacio Wallis. Stores to visit include Hippy Chick, where you can choose from a selection of ‘natural’ clothing, the Sandal Shop, for top-notch handmade leather goods, and Solis Lucrum for glamorous, feminine designs. It also sells eclectic treasures like hand-blown glass, vintage beds, ethnic art and exotic furnishings. reVOLVER is ideal for high-end and unique styles for men and women. For the best in homeware and designer objects, Sluiz in St Miquel is a magical place to exercise your credit card. Also well worth a visit are the weekly hippy markets. On Wednesdays visit Punta Arabi market at Es Cana and Las Dalias in San Carlos on Saturday – both Ibiza institutions.
HOW TO GET AROUND
A hired car is the best way to get around Ibiza. Pre-book online and pick it up at the airport. Local cabs are available but they’re not always easy to flag down or pre-book, especially if you aren’t staying in the centre of town.
WHERE TO STAY
Hostal La Torre is a useful budget option that offers majestic sunset views from its in- house restaurant. Ses Pitreras is a small, contemporary boutique hotel with a pool, spa and restaurant. Other intimate and stylish options include The Giri Residence, a 150-year-old countryside finca (country estate), and Atzaró, a heavenly retreat nestled in a beautiful orange grove. In addition to a spa, it also features a chill-out area that comes to life at night as DJs mix tunes and people sip cocktails on day beds around a lap pool. Partygoers favour Ibiza Rocks Hotel or the more affordable Ibiza Rocks Hostal, which hosts the legendary Wednesday-night Ibiza Rocks gigs as well as daily pool parties. Ushuaia Beach Hotel is a trendy newcomer located opposite Space nightclub, offering its own range of poolside music events. For private villa rentals, try ownersdirect.co.uk, although there are many such sites.
Q&A with Ibiza stylista, Jean-Paul Sanchez
Jean-Paul Sanchez and his wife, Catherine, are the owners of reVOLVER, one of Ibiza’s hippest clothing boutiques located in the heart of Ibiza’s Old Town. The store has developed something of a cult status as the go-to store for cutting-edge fashion and style. Why do you love living in Ibiza? It’s only a two-hour flight to most European destinations but a world away from it all. Favourite night spot? Probably Pacha as it’s within stumbling distance from home. I’m more of a daytime party person. Favourite day trip? A ferry to Formentera and lunch at Juan y Andrea followed by some serious tanning. You go a special shade of mahogany on Formentera. Favourite café/restaurant? KM5: it’s the only restaurant I’ve been to on the island that is excellent in every way, every time I go. Consistency is hard to find here! (Book ahead.) Any other recommendations? El Chiringuito at Es Cavallet is the best beach club on the island. Fantastic food, laid-back luxury, and a rather nice sunglasses bar (featuring Linda Farrow sunglasses by reVOLVER). Any tips? Hire a car and get lost... This article was originally featured in the October 2011 issue of House and Leisure.