Ibiza Holidays

Ibiza Holidays – A Balearic Paradise

Ibiza greets its visitors wearing a carnival mask, inviting them to join the revel of its glamorous, up-all-night world of clubs, villa parties and bohemian bad behaviour. This glittering façade hides a softer face, however, and once you’re out of earshot of drums and away from the flash of disco lights there is a world of scenery, cuisine, and culture to discover. 

Despite being just 40 kilometres long and 25 kilometres across, Ibiza – named for Bes, the Phoenician god of dance – has drawn the attention of imperial armies, pirates and exiles for centuries. 

Some say this is thanks to Es Vedra, the limestone islet off its west coast which is reputed to be the third most magnetic point on earth. A more pragmatic explanation is that invaders came for the salt harvested from the brackish waters of Ses Salinas, on its southern tip. 

Whatever the cause, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and finally Catalans staked their claim, each contributing to its cosmopolitan character.
It is easy to see why voyagers through the centuries grounded their boats and made themselves at home. For sheer physical beauty Ibiza is hard to beat. The coastline is comprised of some 80 beaches, ranging from the pristine white expanse of Es Cavallet, to Aguas Blancas’s golden sand, to rocky coves like Punta Galera and Es Xarcu. Each seems to have made a private arrangement with the Mediterranean, coaxing from it a unique shade of blue, green, or aquamarine. 

Ibiza Holidays

Historically, though, settlers prized the brick-red soil of the interior, where they planted crops and made homes. A trip across the island reveals terraced citrus orchards, an agricultural innovation of the Moors, as well as their distinctive white-walled fincas. And Dalt Vila, the ancient heart of Ibiza town, is a legacy of the Catalans who wrested control in 1235. 

This was the last major invasion until the tourist revolution of the 20th century, which began in the 1920s and 30s with a smattering of painters and refugees from the troubles of mainland Europe. For the next few decades draft dodgers, hippies, artists and adventurers made their way to the island. The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd dug its vibes, as did Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico. Other notable musical visitors were Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. 

When airplanes replaced boats the trickle of tourists became a flood and in the 1980s Ibiza went from an exclusive enclave to a playground for the masses. Music guaranteed it wouldn’t become any ordinary sunshine spot, though. 

An Argentine expat named Alfredo started playing records at a club called Amnesia. Soon other clubs like Ku (now Privilege) were throwing hedonistic dusk-till-dawn parties unlike anything in mainland Europe. 

Dance aficionados can recite the rest of the story like the catechism: a handful of British DJs got high at Amnesia then went home to recreate its spirit-lifting magic in England. The UK’s new clubbing cognoscenti flocked to the island by the hundreds of thousands, and passionate, if somewhat fraught, love affair was born.
Cala San Vincente Bay, Ibiza
Ibiza remains a Mecca for electronic music but it has matured. Clubbers who raved all night at Space or Privilege in the 90s now rent villas and hang out on beach with their kids. Political changes in the 00s led to legislation that effectively ended round-the-clock clubbing. This caused plenty of grumbling at the time, but tourists and locals alike agree it was for the best. 

For the past few years the government has made a concerted effort to diversify its appeal. New information points, signposts for bike and hiking trails, increased funding for cultural events, improved beach clean-up and stricter enforcement of noise regulations have made the island more user-friendly than ever. All you need to appreciate its many facets is time and, if possible, a hire car to explore the more remote beaches and reaches. 

Ibiza Town is a good place to start. Its medieval heart contains narrow cobbled streets lined with picturesque houses and overseen by watchful cats. A climb to the top of its steep walls offers a vista of the Mediterranean on one side and the marina on the other. It is also home to bars, restaurants, boutiques, museums, municipal buildings and the five-star Mirador Dalt Vila hotel (if you can’t afford a room you can always stop in for a cocktail).
Ibiza Town sprawls beyond the edges of the antique citadel in welter of busy streets and sunny squares. The central plaza, Vara de Rey, hosts events ranging from craft exhibitions to Christmas fairs, while the neighbouring Plaza del Parque is surrounded by cafes where locals and tourists gather to eat, drink, gossip, play chess, and plan their nights out. 
A beautiful sunset in Ibiza
The other major towns are Sant Antoni which, despite its reputation as package holiday spot, boasts some fine restaurants and world-famous sunsets; and Santa Eularia, a staid but pleasant seaside town with a striking old church that overlooks the marina and beach.
You can drive the length and breadth of the island in a couple of hours, but it is best to go slowly, stopping to savour each of its villages. Due to the rugged topography there are distinct regional variations. 

Sant Carles is home to iconic hippie market Las Dahlias and a small but perfectly formed church; Sant Miquel guards a stunning bay; Santa Agnes has vast almond orchards whose blossoming is the occasion for a fiesta every spring; Sant Josep is the gateway to Es Vedra; and crafts-lovers go to Sant Rafael for handmade ceramics and jewellery. Between them lie lush fields, clusters of carob and olive trees, hills clad in dusty pines. Plus, you’re never more than a few minutes from the sea. 

What makes Ibiza more than just another pretty Mediterranean island its legendary laissez-faire attitude. Some attribute this to its colourful history, others to simple tolerance, but whatever the cause all ages, sexes, nationalities, and proclivities are welcome, provided they extend the same courtesy to each other. Small wonder people return year after year, eager to revisit their favourite haunts and sink into the voluptuous embrace of this island of the (dance) gods.