On the Balearic island best-known for partying, Zoë Perrett discovers a very different kind of hedonism
‘Can Libelula has a unique energy,’ Philippa Wood-May says as she welcomes us to the north Ibizan finca she rents out to island visitors. ‘It’s a very special place’.
She’s not wrong. Its name might translate to ‘home of the dragonfly’, but aside from those flitting winged insects, the house is now also where the island’s very first Star Pods reside. Dotting the landscape like ethereal bubbles, the transparent spherical tents offer finca guests the chance to glamp whilst gazing at a night sky entirely untouched by light pollution.
It’s a unique experience – you’ve never seen a sky so black. Filled with layer upon layer of more stars than you ever thought existed, it seems to surround you as if you were in a domed planetarium. However it moves you, it’s guaranteed to move you.
Culture & countryside
The island’s north is the Ibiza of culture, characters and countryside; not the Ibiza of clubs, cheap booze and all-day fry-ups. It’s all too easy to fall for the place and the slow pace of local life, and far too hard to leave.
So it’s important to make the most of your stay – and make the most of it we do: from morning trips to organic farm shops; to afternoon ice-creams at Zero Gradi in Sant Gertrudis; to sundowners on Giri Cafe’s back terrace, where we sip spicy mango mojitos as the breeze ruffles tall stalks of maize in an adjoining field.
Ibiza’s size means the entire island is within reach in next to no time provided you hire a car. Our unremarkable little runaround serves us well, whether we’re whizzing up to San Miguel’s hilltop church, off on a culinary adventure, or seeking secret coves.
Were there a prize for sheer diversity of beaches, Ibiza would surely be in the running. Spend a single day hopping, and you’ll encounter everything from pebbly hidden coves like Cala Xarraca, to S’Arenal Petit’s pure white sands and lagoon-like waters, to the rocky, almost Cornish coast at Portinatx.
If you’re into beach yoga and sunset drumming, you’ll love the vibe at Benirras, where the paella at family-run Restaurant 2000 contains as much seafood as rice. Ensure you take the time to drive way out west one evening, because sundown at Cala Conta is an experience that’ll thrill your eyes and touch your soul.
Each beach has its own unique charms, but it’s Cala San Vincent that steals our hearts; not least because of excellently-eccentric On The Beach. After a single visit, we’re welcomed back to the tiki-themed diner like old friends, and flop between sand and terrace all day long – first for fabulous burgers, then late-afternoon cocktails, then a night of tapas and a live set from Banana Boogaloo.
As you might not have thought, food is an increasingly good reason to visit Ibiza. Whether you’re in the market for tradition or modernity, local gastronomy is on the up – and definitely worth exploring.
With its various tiers perched on a clifftop overlooking a cobalt sea, Amante‘s location couldn’t be more beautiful. Nor could the luxury beach club’s staff, or its food; from an avocado and beetroot terrine starter to a chocolate cream that resembles a multi-textured, multi-coloured comet. If you’re planning to propose (or be proposed to), this is the spot. No less fabulous – but rather more boho – is its sister venue, Aiyanna.
A traditional Sunday roast might not be an island tradition, but then legendary venue Pikes has never been one to ascribe to conventions. Along with various pop-ups and chef residencies, this full spread (including vast Yorkshire puds) draws an A-List crowd – as does the chance to play dress-up with resident Pikes icon Sunny Ramzan before a round of karaoke in his bathtub-based ball pool.
Navigating Dalt Vila’s cobbled streets as sun sets is the perfect way to build an appetite for dinner at El Portalon, where chef, farmer and cookbook author Anne Sijmonsbergen presides over a venue where the decor and service are as flawless as the modern Ibicencan menu. Making the most of in-season produce from Anne’s farm, it’s regularly changing and consistently triumphant.
There’s no sign and no menu at Cami de Balafia, but that doesn’t stop people flocking to the out-of-the-way barbecue restaurant near San Llorenc. The formula is simple: a tree-canopied, fairy-lit outdoor venue where you choose your meat (or, better still, opt for a mixed grill), then dive into a vast platter of fire-kissed protein, brimming bowls of chips, and spanking-fresh salad. We can’t claim to be sommeliers, but the local Can Rich red wine makes a stellar accompaniment.
Ibiza has grown up, and grown into a destination to be taken seriously. With this little piece of paradise so close to the UK, it’d be a crying shame not to plan a trip.
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Ibiza is a fashionista’s paradise. Hippy Markets take place all over the island, and are ideal for nailing boho chic. Somewhat edgier is Ruta in Ibiza Town; home to eye-popping pop-art-inspired clothing. For homeware, clothes, and an array of generally gorgeous things, visit standalone concept stores Sluiz and La Galeria Elefante, and the well-heeled town of San Gertrudis – Ibiza’s equivalent of Notting Hill.
From trad to Thai, don’t miss these dining hotspots…
- Bambuddha Set within a Thai temple structure, this restaurant majors in ’Mediterrasian’ fare
- Can Toni Locals know this modest roadside truck stop cafe offers the best tapas on the island
- Can Suldad A little piece of Switzerland on Ibiza, packed to the brim with eccentric artefacts
- Es Café Casa Pepe Punchy Thai cuisine in a pretty, rural farmhouse near Cala Sant Vicent
- Tatel Great Modern Spanish food and top-notch cocktails dished up in a beautiful restaurant
- Vi Cool Chef Sergi Arola brings a slick menu to the rooftop of eco-luxury spa hotel, Aguas de Ibiza
STAY IN STYLE
Whatever your whim, Ibiza has accommodation to suit…
The luxury hotel: Aguas de Ibiza
From stylish rooms with welcome flourishes like balcony bathtubs to a stunning buffet breakfast staying at this five-star luxury eco-hotel is a joy. It’s easy to stay put and be waited on hand and foot by the pool, but it’s worth leaving the manicured grounds to stroll around Santa Eulalia Marina.
The traditional finca: Can Libelula
This charming 300-year old finca has four bedrooms, a pool, outdoor kitchen with wood-fired oven and barbecue, and use of two Star Pod glamping domes. Rural yet within easy driving access of towns and beaches, it’s a great place for a group holiday; the perfect base for exploring the island.
The cool campsite: Camping Es Canar
You’re spoiled for choice with accommodation options here – from tipis to tiny colourful cabanas to chalets and bungalows. Variously-sized and shaped structures are nicely sprawled out across a well-maintained, pine-shaded campsite which is just minutes from the seaside town of Es Cana.
EVEN MORE IBIZA?
Read my blogposts on What to Do In Ibiza on the Can Libelula website here
Read my full reviews on the following venues:
- Aguas de Ibiza
- Amante Beach Club
- El Chiringuito Cala Gracioneta
- El Portalon
- Nobu Ibiza Bay
- Peyotito Ibiza
- Hostal La Torre
Image credits: Beach pictures by Alice Marion Photography; star pod by Andy LeSauvage