The quiet side of Ibiza? We’re raving about it! Exploring the island’s serene coves and swish hotels
The smell of sardines cooking on a grill wafts over tiny Cala Mastella, where pine trees border a shingle beach and the water is as clear as glass. A chalk board outside the small bar – known as a chiringuito – advertises its simple menu: sole, sardines and calamari, all just out of the sea.
Lunch at a chiringuito; treks to hidden coves; a visit to a mountain-top winery; a hike through pine-forested hills; dinner in a restaurant hidden in the heart of Ibiza Town – relaxing experiences such as these are now what this island is all about. Ibiza’s new visitor is one who embraces slow travel, keen to discover secret places on the White Isle.
Come the weekend, locals make a beeline to their favourite cove to swim and picnic. Many of these have remained off the tourist radar as they’re easily missed or require effort to reach – found at the end of unmarked twisting roads or at the bottom of rocky paths – so it’s best to explore them with a guide.
Ibiza’s new visitor is one who embraces slow travel, keen to discover secret places on the White Isle. Above is one such hidden place, tiny Cala Mastella, where pine trees border a shingle beach and the water is as clear as glass
Relaxing experiences such as dinner in a restaurant hidden in the heart of Ibiza Town (pictured) are now what Ibiza is all about
Tucked away: The idyllic Cala d’en Serra, pictured, boasts dazzling turquoise waters flanked by fishermen’s shacks and a chiringuito (a small bar) that offers hearty tuna salads
Discover Ibiza, a directory for all things Ibizan, organises bespoke tours which take in many of the island’s off-the-beaten-track highlights (discoveribiza.com).
Each cove, or cala, has a distinctive feature, as with horseshoe-shaped Pou des Lleo that is ringed with red cliffs, or Cala d’en Serra with its dazzling turquoise waters flanked by fishermen’s shacks and a chiringuito that offers hearty tuna salads, generously stuffed bocadillos (sandwiches) and seafood platters. After lunch it’s worth a scramble up the hill to the abandoned hotel – graffiti artists have transformed it into the most magnificent outdoor gallery with dizzying sea views.
From the pretty resort of Portinatx, walk along the cliff path through pockets of pine forest to the striking black-and-white spiral-striped Punta Moscarter lighthouse. Built in 1977, it became the unlikely scene for illegal raves in the 90s, but these days tranquillity reigns and on a clear day you can see as far as Majorca, 71 miles away.
Further along the coastline, near the village of Sant Joan, a 20-minute descent through bushy scrubland scented with wild lavender and rosemary brings you to the gravelly cove of Cala es Canaret, hardly mentioned in guidebooks or featured on maps of the island.
From the pretty resort of Portinatx (pictured), walk along the cliff path through pockets of pine forest to the Punta Moscarter lighthouse
The striking black-and-white spiral-striped Punta Moscarter lighthouse, pictured on the left, became the unlikely scene for illegal raves in the 90s, but these days tranquillity reigns
Each Ibizan cove, or cala, has a distinctive feature, such as the horseshoe-shaped Pou des Lleo (pictured) that is ringed by red cliffs
Near the village of Sant Joan (pictured), a 20-minute descent through bushy scrubland scented with wild lavender and rosemary brings you to the gravelly cove of Cala es Canaret
It’s something of a surprise, then, to pass through the manicured gardens of a private villa, built across a public footpath. The owner’s hopes of claiming the beach as his own were quashed by local authorities and this slice of paradise remains open to all. It’s a scenic spot to swim and snorkel in underwater meadows (a Unesco World Heritage site, protected for its biodiversity) that contain nine species of Mediterranean seagrass, including the native Posidonia oceanica.
An advantage to checking into stylish Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay –beyond the fabulous Japanese-Peruvian fusion food and its chic accommodation – is its location on Talamanca Bay, a little away from the frenetic energy of Ibiza Town.
A stay here is a lovely option for families or those who wish to experience that famous Ibizan vibe in a gentle way. Another huge attraction is the chance to book one of the hotel’s experiences, including guided hikes with Manuel from Ibiza Hike Station. These can take you along smugglers’ routes, into hidden caves and abandoned pirate hideouts, or e-biking past salt flats populated by flamingos.
Cala es Canaret, pictured, is hardly mentioned in guidebooks or featured on maps of the island
A Deluxe Sea View room at the stylish Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, which lies on Talamanca Bay, a little away from the frenetic energy of Ibiza Town
A favourite is a visit to the organic hilltop winery of Ojo de Ibiza, found in the least populated and most rural of northern landscapes, where winding roads cut through roll upon roll of densely forested hills and there’s hardly a house in sight.
The grapes are grown high above the sea on ancient stone terraces. The land was brought back to life by Dieter Meier, the former frontman of ’80s electro-pop group Yello, whose motto as a vintner has become: ‘Out of nothing, everything.’ Here he produces Ojo de Ibiza, which he serves at tastings alongside sweet local manchego cheese and salty Iberico ham.
Go at sunset to watch the sky turn from tangerine to a milky apricot as the remnants of the day sink into the Mediterranean (ojoibiza.com).
Pictured above is the ‘chic accommodation’ of the Royal Suite room at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay
A stay at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay is a lovely option for families or those who wish to experience that famous Ibizan vibe in a gentle way
Make sure to sample the fabulous Japanese-Peruvian fusion food at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay. Above is the hotel’s Nobu restaurant (pictured)
Can Gourmet, pictured, serves up warm crusty bocadillos stuffed with local spicy sausage doused in honey
In the white-washed alleyways of Ibiza Town, a tapas trail with Ibiza Food Tours takes you into the nooks and crannies less explored, down small streets that look as though they lead to nothing special, only to discover a gourmet gem (ibizafoodtours.com).
Sample oysters topped with a minty fresh granita at The Ibiza Food Studio, which showcases all that is seasonal and organic from the island.
It has the feel of a private dining club, without even a sign above the door.
Next is Can Gourmet, which serves up warm crusty bocadillos stuffed with local spicy sausage doused in honey.
On the fortified hilltop of Dalt Vila, high above Ibiza Town, pause awhile at Plaza del Sol, order a glass of white sangria and drink in the local scene.
Hugged by 16th Century walls, shaded by the canopies of plane trees, the place is lively, although it has an intimate, cosy ambience. In true Ibizan style, lovers, friends and families enjoy a late supper, and the air is filled with lively Spanish chatter. A happier scene would be hard to find.