My expectations were admittedly low. Prior to arriving, I expected Ibiza to be very expensive, chaotic and full of (annoying) tourists. But if you know to avoid the “Ballermann” club scene around Playa D’en Bossa and St. Antoni, you’ll find magical hills, beautiful coves and mesmerizing sunsets all over the island.
Ibiza is neither too large nor too small for a two week vacation. And while the rich and beautiful of the world still park their exorbitant yachts in the Eivissa port, there’s still enough of that hippie spirit left to deliver a feeling of coming to a sacred and endless place.
Ibiza: Music, Myth and Money
Aside from the typical island life (an island is an island, after all: you can kayak, dive, surf, swim, snorkel, eat fish and roast in the sun all day on pretty much every island which a similar climate), Ibiza is a nice mixture of urban styles, people-watching and nature.
Unlike Berlin, Ibiza has clubs that have perfectly industrialized the experience of going out. The line ups are top notch. In clubs such as the Amnesia, you have about 7 queues for different guest list accreditations. Dancers, movie screens, VIP-areas, people from all over the world and drinks that costs around 20 Euro will take you as close as you can get to a Las Vegas rave in Europe. How many Euros must a kid save up to enter a club like that? The only door policy is money, the A/C is on full blast and the sound system impeccable.
And yet, while I’m sure people have the time of their life in these clubs, something feels amiss. It’s as if all meaning has been stripped from hedonism. There’s nothing “hippie” at all about this sort of rave anymore. This is the part of Ibiza that is blatant and noisy and incredibly dull to me, but it’s an exotic and flashy part nonetheless, and worth checking it out if only to compare to what we have here.
Instead, if you’re looking for high quality music at the beach without going broke on entrance fees and drinks, check out the weekly tINI & the Gang party at Sands which we thoroughly enjoyed. Underground club is also one of the supposedly better (and cheap) ones, albeit slow to get into gear.
The Hippie Spirit of Ibiza
We were very lucky with our residence. A personal recommendation led us to Gundel’s little housing in a beautiful Finca, ten minutes from Eivissa, the capital city of the island. Gundel’s home is a symbol of love and serenity. We spent days by the pool or in the water, drooling away in the hot sun, even too lazy to get up and see the beaches.
We’d sneak around the house to pick figs or lemons from the trees, and prepare light dinners in the evening with the other guests. My thoughts and movements were limited to a minimum. Sleep, eat, and read, and sometimes listen to her stories about how it used to be on this sparkling island.
Gundel came to Ibiza about 36 years ago – and simply stayed. She built up her life around this house, became a mother and loves her precious idyll in the sun. Who wouldn’t? Cushions and pillows are scattered everywhere. The rooms are small but cozy, and each visitor gets their own bathroom as well as an outdoor-kitchen to share (with a fridge and whatever you need to make your stay as comfortable as possible).
Raiding Spanish supermarkets, by the way, has become another passion during our vacation. Manchego, Gazpacho, Corona, Empanadas… gluttony is a lifestyle on Ibiza.
The Beaches of Ibiza
When we weren’t too lazy, we’d head out to see the sunset or snorkel the riffs. The bays Cala Compte and Cala D’Hort offer amazing views (and restaurant Sunset Ashram had the best sashimi ever to accompany the fiery sun over the sea).
And Benirras, of course, although you’ll have to share the sunset with huge crowds. Benirras used to be popular with hippie drummers, who’d make music when the sun began to move over the horizon. Nowadays, you’ll have to park 5 kilometers away from the beach to get transported down in public buses, for there are too many people – and hardly any drummers. It was beautiful nevertheless, but I wouldn’t do it again.
The Island Food
Turns out Ibiza isn’t as expensive as I’d thought. Sure, there’s no cap on the maximum, but there’s something to cater for every budget, especially culinary-wise. And you won’t have to limit yourself to fast food chains or tapas bars.
Restaurants like The Fish Shack at Talamanca – basically just a couple of plastic chairs on top of a cliff and a wooden shed for a kitchen – will blow your mind with delicious, fresh fish, but without the fanfare of a high-class restaurant.
Apparently, Fish Shack beach has been around for 34 years, and is a non-advertised and rustic institution of the island, known to serve some of the best seafood in Europe. There will be no menu, but a list of fish pulled out that very morning with potatoes and a salad on the side (my tuna steak was as decadent and delicious as it gets – simple, but perfect). Oh and, then there’s the view, of course.
Italian restaurant La Paloma in sleepy town San Lorenzo, on the other hand, will bless you with a very extensive wine list and delicious, homemade food for a medium budget. It’s worth calling again (and again), even if it’s booked out – sometimes they can clear a table very spontaneously, as happened to us.
Should you be on your way to St. Carles for one of the hippie markets (which are nice to hang around at, but not really worth visiting if you’re actually looking to shop), stop on the way at s’hort d’en josepep for freshly squeezed and super-delicious orange juice.
Even Eivissa is beautiful. The old castle on top of the hill makes for a wonderful panorama over the sea, and every night (especially in August) the streets are crowded with people. Of course, you won’t be spared the tourist traps. But instead of coastlines being trashed by big hotels and ugly buildings, Ibiza remains somewhat free of too much real estate squabbles (admittedly, there are some very intense architectonic faux-pas though). Best drinks (as far as I’m concerned) can be had on top of the castle in a bar that is built on stairs. I couldn’t find a name to save my life, but here’s the exact location (street names won’t take you far anyway).
This trip taught me, all in all, that even the most discovered and popular vacation places in the world still offer a lot and more if you can dive into history and know what you’re looking for.
But as always, you’ll have to stray on your own to see what the island has in store for you and your own special needs. I highly recommend renting your own car to explore. The many different (mainly electronic) radio stations will take you around on a dream trip through endless possibilities of a sweet summer – this is promised.