Steve Warren goes in search of peace on a holiday to Ibiza in the Balearics.
Ibiza can be wild. And I’m not talking about the weather. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of going to San Antonio will know what I mean. And while Ibiza Town is more sophisticated, it’s still a busy old place.
But there is somewhere to escape to if you want a break away from it all – the beautiful island of Formentera. The white sandy beaches and clear blue waters of the Mediterranean that lap its shores are a haven from the dance music and, let’s face it, drug-fuelled ways of its big sister. At times, and if you’re lucky, it can feel like you’re on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere.
It takes about half an hour to reach Formentera on the ferry from Ibiza Town. It has a handful of small villages, such as Sant Francesc Xavier and El Pilar de la Mola, but once you land you don’t have to go anywhere near them if peace and seclusion is what you’re after. And while you can drive (car hire firms are at the ferry terminal), it makes much more sense to hire a bike as we did. Head off along one of the cycle paths to explore the island, along paths lined with scented juniper bushes and fig trees, and discover the beaches at your leisure. At just 19km long, Formentera is good for walks too.
The island has more than 20km of beaches and nude bathing is common on most of them. They come in all shapes and sizes – long expanses of sand, bays, tiny and empty coves. Smaller ones like Es Calo and Calo des Morts have few if any facilities. The larger ones like Llevant boast bars and water sports.
Here are some of the beaches we found:
- Cavall d’en Borras is the nearest to La Sabina port so easily reached on foot or bike. Just under a kilometre long, there’s a bar and a juniper wood offering shade if you need it.
- Llevant, near to Illetas, is one of the busiest and longest at 1.5km but it’s possible to find quieter spots if you walk away from the bars and cafes.
- Es Pujols is smaller, has a mixture of sandy beach and rocks plus facilities for disabled bathers. Fishermen store their boats in huts near here.
- Migjorn beach is a long 5km of beautiful sand on the south coast. There are bars and restaurants but it’s not difficult to find a bit of peace and quiet either.
Go for a swim off most of them and you’ll find fields of posidonea growing on the seabed below you.
There’s another treat in store though – the neighbouring and smaller island of Esplamador. About 150 metres away from Formentera, you can reach it by boat or swim if you’re confident enough. Head for the Platja de S’Alga beach for more sunbathing but take plenty to eat and drink as there are no restaurants.
Top tip: Relive the happy days by shopping in the bohemian markets of Sant Francesc Xavier and El Pilar de la Mola.
Getting to Formentera and other info:
Ferries to Formentera operate from their own terminal in Ibiza port and run until about 11pm, although do check on the day you sail to ensure you’re not left stranded.
If you fancy a longer stay than a day trip, accommodation is available to suit all budgets on the island.