Escape the crowds on Britain’s favourite Balearic isle
For most people, Ibiza is synonymous with all-night beach raves, glitzy mega clubs, and over-priced restaurants and bars. It’s seen as a destination for the young and rowdy, and isn’t top of the list when planning a quiet and relaxing grown-up break.
But it turns out that the traditional image of this beautiful Balearic island is pretty outdated, and on a recent trip my husband and I discovered an altogether more idyllic side of the party isle.
After a short-haul flight (just two hours, 20 minutes from London), our holiday started with a 30-minute transfer to Portinatx on the north-east coast. With its wild, rugged bays and beautiful beaches, Portinatx feels a world away from the hubbub of hedonistic Ibiza Town, or bustling San Antonio in the west. One of its bays was even chosen as the backdrop for 1958 movie South Pacific.
Portinatx has a choice of three beaches: S’Arenal Gros (which is the largest), S’Arenal Petit (more private) and Playa Porto Beach. Each has crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling and golden sand for sunbathing. A short walk away, we found small bays hemmed by dense pine forests and gentle rolling hills.
We checked in to Thomson Holidays’ adults-only four-star Sensimar Ibiza Beach Resort, which boasted serene, crisp white interiors, punctuated by splashes of aqua and cerise pink, giving it a sleek, contemporary feel.
Be sure to book a Junior Suite, which comes with a giant terrace, gazebo and private hot tub. Ours was seriously chic and perfect for pure relaxation.
Overlooking S’Arenal Petit beach, this all-inclusive resort is designed to help guests hit the recharge button. Whether you want to sit back with a book, basking in the glorious sunshine on a sunlounger, or fill your days with an array of activities, this resort has it covered.
There’s candlelit yoga, water aerobics, wine tasting and pine forest walks to help make it a truly memorable trip.
We took full advantage of the area’s natural beauty on a tour with Toby Clarke from Walking Ibiza (walkingibiza.com). A few years ago, Toby walked around the island with just one euro in his pocket and his dog, Cosmo, by his side. He knows the island like the back of his hand and now runs guided hikes, yoga retreats and many other activities.
After meeting him at Playa Porto Beach, Toby took us on a hike along the coastal pathway towards the Punta Moscarter Lighthouse, where we enjoyed breathtaking views over the Mediterranean.
Jumping between rocks, weaving in and out, and ducking low branches, we trekked in the warming sunshine as he shared his fascinating knowledge of the island and his own personal journey. Along the way we stopped to search for crystals naturally formed within the rocks in some parts of the island.
Ibiza Old Town and harbour
We then headed to Cala d’en Serra for a picnic on the beach. The hike was invigorating and we came away with a renewed energy and a love for the Balearic Islands.
But what we loved most about Portinatx was having the best of both worlds – a haven of peace, far from the noise and crowds, but not so far away from civilisation that we felt isolated.
From our base, we took a day trip to neighbouring Formentera – an undiscovered white sandy paradise island just 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza Town – and to the hippy market in Es Cañar. There is also a regular bus service to Ibiza Town, if you fancy one big night on the tiles. After a week in the sun, it was time to leave, rested, tanned and feeling like we’d found a hidden gem – the softer side of the White Isle.
Way to go
Thomson offers seven-night holidays to Ibiza staying at Thomson’s four-star Sensimar Ibiza Beach Resort on a bed and breakfast basis from £434 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights departing from London Gatwick on May 3, 2017, and transfers. To find out more about this holiday or to book, visit your local Thomson travel shop, thomson.co.uk or call 0871 230 2555.
Ten things you must do in Ibiza
1 Set sail on a catamaran cruise to nearby Formentera’s Illetas Beach. You’ll have the chance to stop off for a spot of swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise waters.
2 Hop on the bus to Ibiza Town. Explore the historic old town of Dalt Vila with its narrow cobbled streets, or browse the designer boutiques before seeing if you can spot some celebrities in the Barrio de la Marina harbour district.
3 Visit the Hippy Market in Punta Arabi. Before Ibiza made its name as a party island, it was famed for its hippy movement, and this vibrant market sells unique handmade wares.
4 Watch the sun go down over San Antonio. Walk down the aptly named Sunset Strip, the promenade west of San Antonio, and enjoy a sundowner on a terrace at one of the bars or restaurants.
5 Take a trip to the paradise island of Formentera, with its dinky white-washed houses, unspoilt dreamy beaches, seaside restaurants and slower pace of life.
6 Enjoy a moonlit walk to Cala d’en Serra. At the Sensimar resort, organised hikes are available throughout your stay.
7 Go kayaking. A two-hour kayak trip will take you to hidden caves, secluded coves and quaint fishing villages. See walkingibiza.com for more details.
8 Kick back at the Zulu Lounge, a wonderful seafront restaurant in Portinatx, with a delicious Mexican and Spanish-inspired menu.
9 Spot a host of colourful fish – and even dolphins – on a glass-bottom boat trip. Excursions depart from the jetty in Portinatx and tickets cost 10 euros.
10 Relax and unwind. Be sure to check out Sensimar’s mini-spa for a truly indulgent treatment. You are on holiday, after all.