Ibiza is many things to many people and, while it continues to evolve, its allure remains. Be warned, you may want to book a one-way ticket.
THE ENIGMATIC LIMESTONE rock Es Vedrà soars out of the azure sea a few miles off the southwest tip of Ibiza. Tourists and locals flock here to watch the sun go down, preferably with a mojito in hand at the cafe Sunset Ashram, where a DJ mixes hypnotic Balearic beats. Others prefer to observe it from a nearby rocky outcrop while holding a tricky asana — contorting their bodies to the commands of a yoga guru as if in worship to Tanit, Ibiza’s ancient Phoenician goddess of love and fertility. Legend has it she lives inside the rock, while others swear Es Vedrà is Homer’s legendary Island of the Sirens, off whose shores Odysseus was lured from his ship. Who knows, maybe this magnetic effect explains why so many visitors to Ibiza never seem to leave.
The island became famous in the 1950s and 1960s with the arrival of artisans, painters, hippies and draft dodgers, and their legendary full moon beach parties helped make Ibiza the laid-back, free-spirited, hedonistic hotspot it is today. While much of the hippy culture has dissipated, the bohemian lifestyle lives on, predominantly in the north around the sleepy village of Sant Joan and San Carlos, where you can meet an eclectic bunch of nonconformist Europeans operating all manner of enterprises. While some run yoga retreats, others have converted secluded fincas (estates) into agrotourism hotels such as The Giri Residence, or homegrown organic vegetarian restaurants like La Paloma and Cicale.
For those who prefer something a little louder, the south remains the place to party, with megaclubs Pacha, Privilege and Amnesia still attracting islanders to their VIP areas on the nights the big-name DJs — the likes of Pete Tong, David Guetta, Erick Morillo and Luciano — step up to the podium. And there’s a growing atmosphere of exclusiveness, with many new venues catering for those who want to let their hair down in unashamed luxury. Perhaps this is due to the new wave of immigrants — Elle Macpherson, Jade Jagger and James Blunt all have secluded villas here — and the fact that those who partied during the Club Tropicana years have grown up (somewhat) and now want to indulge in sushi and Champagne rather than a bag of chips and bottle of Estrella. High end beach clubs like Sands and Nassau have popped up along the previously run-down area of Playa d’en Bossa, while Ibiza Town’s Marina Botofoch now has designer shops and restaurants, alongside a cabaret club and casino, making it more akin to Marbella or Miami.
A few miles on, a revamped Talamanca has not only attracted a new Pacha hotel, Destino, but a new luxury villa complex and restaurants, which range from the plush Sa Punta to the Fish Shack, where local Spaniards and celebs rock up to dine on the catch of the day.
- Published in National Geographic Traveller UK
- Read the full feature here www.natgeotraveller.co.uk