Ibiza was once a virtually unknown and unvisited island; Majorca, its bigger neighbor, got all the business. But in the 1950s, Ibiza’s art colony began to thrive, and in the 1960s it became the European resort most favored by the flower children. A New York art student once wrote, “Even those who come to Ibiza for the wrong reason eventually are seduced by the island’s easy life. Little chores like picking up the mail from the post office stretch into daylong missions.” Today, Ibiza is overrun by middle-class package tour visitors, mainly from England, France, Germany, and Scandinavia. It has become a major mecca for gay travelers as well, making Ibiza a wild combination of chic and middle-class.
At 585 sq. km, it is the third largest of the Balearic Islands. Physically, Ibiza has a jagged coastline, some fine beaches, whitewashed houses, secluded bays, cliffs, and a hilly terrain dotted with fig and olive trees. Warmer than Majorca, it’s a better choice for a winter vacation, but it can be sweltering in July and August. Thousands of tourists descend on the island in summer, greatly taxing the island’s limited water supply.
Ciudad de Ibiza boasts Playa Talamanca in the north and Ses Figueretes and Playa d’en Bossa in the south, two outstanding white sandy beaches. Las Salinas, in the south, near the old salt flats, offers excellent sands. Playa Cavallet and Aigües Blanques attract the nude sunbathers. Other good beaches include Cala Bassa, Port des Torrent, Cala Tarida, and Cala Conta, all within a short bus or boat ride from San Antonio de Portmany. The long sandy cove of Cala Llonga, south of Santa Eulalia del Río, and the white sandy beach of El Cana to the north, are sacred to Ibiza’s sun worshipers. In Formentera, Playa de Mitjorn stretches 5 km and is relatively uncrowded. Set against a backdrop of pines and dunes, the pure white sand of Es Pujols makes it the most popular of Ibiza’s beaches, and deservedly so. Formentera is the most southern of the Balearic Islands, and because of limited accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife, it is most often visited on a day trip from Ibiza.
Eivissa is the local (Catalan) name for Ibiza. Catalan is the most common language of the island, but it is a dialectal variation, called Eivissenc or Ibicenco. The same language is spoken on Formentera. Don’t blink or you’ll pass right through this hamlet in central Ibiza, lying inland and to the west of Santa Eulalia del Río. Yet visitors have found their way here, as testified by the little handicrafts shops and galleries in the central square, Plaça de l’Església. There are also fine bars here if you’d like to escape inland from the beaches one day and see what an island village looks like.