The Best Of: Ibiza
Sunday 08 May 2005
Some say that Ibiza has had its day but that's just wishful thinking on the part of those who mistake this sun drenched, spiritual isle as a clubbing hellhole.
Some say that Ibiza has had its day but that's just wishful thinking on the part of those who mistake this sun drenched, spiritual isle as a clubbing hellhole. The Carthaginians first came here in 654 BC and much of the island's magic comes from its sense of age and mythical history. In the Sixties, the hippy generation stopped off here en route to Goa and Bali and made it their hippy home. And today, that spirit is very much back. Ibiza just oozes boho-chic and many of the trendy come here for a week in the summer in search of sun, sand, relaxed living and possibly the occasional visit to one of the superclubs.
Best Places to Stay
Secreted away in the north of the island, the Hacienda Na Xamena (020-7978 5842; www.relaischateaux.com) is Ibiza's only five-star property. Perched on a cliff top with amazing views over the Mediterranean from the exotic sun and pool terraces, the hotel attracts a glitzy international crowd and houses several good restaurants. Rooms are large, the design has Zen-like Eastern influences and many of the rooms have terraces with their own hot tubs for lovers' trysts. Double rooms from £221 per night on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, excluding drinks, based on two sharing, quoting the special "lys de bronze" offer.
Hotel Es Vive (00 34 971 30 19 02; www.hotelesvive.com) in Figueretas just outside Ibiza Town is the hip choice of those in search of the nocturnal Ibiza clubbing experience. This is also the Hed Kandi hotel, and if you need to ask, then don't even think of booking in here. (Hed Kandi is a record label, a radio show and an international club phenomenon.) Expect a striking Art Deco interior, 24-hour bar service and live DJs playing on the cool pool terrace. Double rooms from £105 per room per night, including breakfast, minimum stay four nights.
Can Pep Musonet in Can Guillermo booked through James Villa Holidays (0870 085 0722; www.jamesvillas.co.uk) is a restored old farmhouse, complete with its original flagstone floors, beamed ceilings and ancient watchtower. The four-bedroom villa is well-equipped with a large open-plan living and dining room plus an additional upstairs balconied sitting room with great views over the countryside. Ideal for families or a group of friends. Seven nights costs from £372 per person, including return flights and hire of a seven-seat vehicle, based on six sharing. The villa is available for £529 for a week's rental departing 22 May.
Set in a flower and palm-filled courtyard against the old Roman wall of Ibiza Old Town, La Brasa, Carrer Pere Sala 3 (00 34 971 30 12 02), specialises in regional and seafood dishes with the emphasis on simple fare. Try the seared lobster or the salmon with lobster sauce and don't miss the exotic cactus fruit dessert. The dress code is smart or glamorous so dress to impress. Booking ahead is advised. About £40 per head for three courses including wine.
East meets West at Bambuddha Grove, Ctra San Juan Km 8.5 (00 34 971 19 75 10), which is on the Ibiza Town/Sant Joan road about 15 minutes from Ibiza Town by car. Expect plenty of bamboo, Buddhas and open-air lounges strewn with silk cushions. The diners are a mix of young and old who come for the excellent Thai-fusion fare. Live DJs spin ambient beats and the long menu includes favourites such as prawn dim sum and Japanese soba noodle salad with grilled teriyaki salmon. Booking ahead is essential. Around £30 per head for three courses, including wine.
Kumharas, Cala de Bou, Port Des Torrent (00 34 971 80 57 40), is focused on a ruined stone windmill that now serves as its bar. There are lots of hippy stalls, too. This is a spot to unwind with a sundowner early evening. The cuisine is a good mix of local and international fare with an oriental twist, so expect everything from pasta dishes and fish to curry. Three-course set menus from £13 per head, excluding wine.
Best Cultural Attraction
Visit the Phoenician settlement at Sa Caleta and see the excavated remains of a village that dates from the middle of the 7th century BC. To get to grips with Ibizan folklore, check out the Ethnological Museum of the Pitiusa Islands in Santa Eularia des Rui. The Pitiusa Islands are Ibiza and neighbouring Formentera and the collection reflects a time when the islanders had to be self-sufficient and all things had to be made at home. The exhibits include jewellery, household utensils and tools, folklore and weapons. Opening hours from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 8pm. Closed Sundays and Monday mornings.
For unusual summer clothes and jewellery, trawl markets such as Las Dahlias, near Sant Cares on Saturdays. On Wednesdays go to the old hippy market in Es Cana. Bring back some Hierbas Ibicencas, the lethal local liqueur flavoured with aniseed, thyme, rosemary and citrus peel.
Thankfully, Ibiza is short on big draws and part of the island's intrinsic magic is driving around and discovering the sleepy whitewashed hilltop villages such as Santa Agnes and Santa Gertrudis, both of which have plenty of good restaurants and bars. There are also secret gems to be unearthed, such as the Can Marca cave in Puerto San Miguel. The vast natural cave, more than 100,000 years old, was used by smugglers in days gone by. At all costs avoid the town of San Antonio, the hormone-heady high-rise hell as seen in the television series "Ibiza Uncovered".
Ibiza still reigns supreme in the world of clubbing and all the big summer hits are heard here first. The superclubs, such as Amnesia, Privilege, Pacha and El Divino, are confined to San Rafael in the hills, the marina outside Ibiza Old Town and Playa d'en Bossa. The really cool sessions such as Matinee at Space and DC10 play during the day so you don't even have to stay up all night to enjoy them.
How to get there
EasyJet (0905 8210905; www.easyjet.com) flies from Stansted and Gatwick to Ibiza from £118 return, including taxes.
Ibiza Town is compact and relatively easy to explore on foot. Public transport is erratic so the best way of getting around the island is by hire car. Holiday Autos (0870 400 0010; www.holidayautos.co.uk) offers one week's fully inclusive car hire from £89.
Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed in the street. A journey by taxi from the airport to Ibiza Town costs around £10.
For further information contact The Spanish National Tourist Office (020-7486 8077; www.spain.info).
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