A visit to the Mediterranean island doesn’t necessarily mean insane, incessant nights dancing to EDM. The subtler, more stylish side of Ibiza is all hidden beaches, fresh seafood, and jugs of sangria.
The Mediterranean island of Ibiza has drawn artists and bohemians to its sandy shore since the 1930’s with Surrealist artists like Dada and writers like Man Ray and Raoul Haussmann. In the 1950’s, international stars like the Prince of Sweden, Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Olivier arrived, and today, the island that’s roughly ten times the size of Manhattan, but with one-twelfth of the population, swells in the summertime with visitors seeking sun, surf, and notorious parties. “By 1965,” writes Maya Boyd, in the introduction to the newly published book Ibiza Bohemia, “Ibiza was the hippest place in Europe, and the action played out on the terrace of the Hotel Montesol. Art deals, movie deals, drug deals—it all went down on that sunny corner of Vara de Rey…These were the halcyon days of groupies and gurus, musicians and mystics, bikini-clad babes, and velvet-cloaked nomads: an exotic farrago that gave birth to the hipster elite.”
Joni Mitchell immortalized Ibiza in her hit song “California.” James Taylor wrote “Carolina in My Mind” while there, and even Roman Polanski holed up there. In the 1980’s, San Rafael’s Ku Club picked up where Studio 54 left off with Valentino, Moschino, David Bowie, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Freddie Mercury filmed the iconic video for “Barcelona” in the club and British DJs birthed the Second Summer of Love after visiting Ibiza. The 1990s brought Kate Moss, John Galliano, and Boy George. Today, Boyd says the well-heeled visitors are “designers, entrepreneurs, yogis, and CEOs from worlds and countries as disparate as the hippies, creating little pockets of paradise in the safe harbor of Ibiza’s open arms.”
But there’s more to the island than clubs and jet setters. And Renu Kashyap, a Dutch fashion editor who moved there in 2012 with her husband and daughter, and Maya Boyd, a freelance travel and style writer and the editor of Ibiza-based Pasha magazine, have teamed up with Assouline to showcase a different side of Ibiza. Their book, Ibiza Bohemia, celebrates this more stylish, more authentic side.
For Boyd, that side of Ibiza is found at the drumming ceremony on Benirrás beach, at Es Xarcu, a little fish shack at Es Cubells, and on any of the clifftop walks that pepper the coastline. “If you’re first-timer to Ibiza then you really should try to make it out to Punta Galera,” says Boyd. “This series of flat, flame-colored, sandstone rock formations tumble out towards the sea in descending levels, from clifftop height to partially submerged. The sea is gin-clear and delicious, lapping the base of the rocks. At sunset the whole place glows a deep, burning red, seemingly from within. For Robinson Crusoe vibes you’ll want to head over to the tiny nature reserve islet of Espalmador, a slip of a sandback connected at low tide to Ibiza’s sister island, Formentera. The sea is perhaps the clearest in the Mediterranean and there are natural mudbanks at the island’s center.”
Speaking of Fomentera, Kashyap recommends visiting one of the hidden beaches on that island, like Es Portixol. And while you may not start your morning like her with yoga at your villa and juices from Potion Juice (“but they offer free delivery to your door!” she exclaims), do take the rest of her advice: take a boat to Fomentera—the smallest of the Balearic islands, and only accessible by boat—and have a late lunch at El Chiringuito. Then go back to your villa to change for the evening and go to dinner at La Granja. “My favorite parties are the private ones at villas, not the big clubs,” says the local. “If you make it to Ibiza, try to get in at one of those.”
For Boyd, a perfect Saturday starts with hunting for treasures at the Sant Jordi flea market, followed by lunch (garlic prawns, grilled squid, and a jug of cava sangria) at her all-time fave beach spot, Yemanja. After a massage and swim, she’d drive across the Salinas salt flats to grab a beer and catch the sunset at Experimental Beach before dinner at a friend’s house in the campo. The following day? “We’d spend the day bobbing in a boat in the sea off Formentera, just popping ashore to grab lunch at Beso Beach. Later we’ll grab supper at the Giri Cafe before heading to Pacha to see Solomun.”
If either of those ideal days has inspired you to look into flights to the Balearic islands, take note: recently, the island has cracked down on AirBnBs, but that doesn’t mean you need to go to a large, impersonal hotel. Ibiza has a wealth of agroturismos, or rural hotels that focus on conservation, ranging in budget and taste. At the higher end, you have places like Cas Gasi, Es Cucons and Hotel Xereca, but there are plenty of simpler places, like Can Quince de Balafia, Casa Corazon, Los Jardins de Palerm, and Finca Can Martí that are also amazing.
Because you’ll want some food to go along with all that Sangria:
According to Boyd, Camí de Balafia for al fresco grilled meats, an otherworldly tomato salad, and unforgettable handout fries.
Sa Caleta is a beautiful beach restaurant that locals go to for its delicious paella.
Go to Es Torrent, in a tiny secret cove on the northwest coast, for salt-beaked sea bass and black rice.
Le Vrai is a new gastronomic street food restaurant whose French owner is almost as much of a draw as the atmostphere. Kashyap recommends the falafel and the organic chicken with vegetables.
El Pirata has the best pizza in Ibiza and the best spot to watch the nightly spectacular of the Port unfold.
Es Caliu is an authentic Spanish restaurant with a lot of meat on its menu; vegetarians may want to eat elsewhere.
Last, but not least, El Chiringuito is a highly recommended, open air chic beachfront restaurant that serves amazing food and is open every evening for diner.
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