For the longest time I’d bought into the reputation of Ibiza being a non-stop party island, filled with manic superclubs, £19 bottles of water, hungover misbehaving tourists and tacky outfits galore. As a European hotspot to check out, I’d decidedly given it the big "no thanks" and swerved away from heading over the Spanish isle.
But increasingly over the past year or so I kept on hearing about the “other” side of the island and on seeing seemingly endless amounts of yoga, fitness and wellness retreats being held there, I couldn’t compute why this crass party place would have such a revered spot in all the wellness junkies heart. So after a little research and a week free, we decided to check it out ourselves.
Fly: Direct from London via most budget/full fare carriers
Flight time: 2.5 hours
To/From Airport: Easy access via taxi or rental car across the island
Top Tip: Hire a car - Whilst most people we spoke to about visiting Ibiza mentioned having a car, no one really told us just how necessary it is! The island is quite spread out and if you want to cruise around to isolated beaches and check out lot’s of different areas it is crucial to rent a car. Taxi’s are stupidly overpriced so you will end up saving money and time by taking this route.
The “season” runs from the end of May until the end of August. We went at the very end of May and it was perfect timing- great weather, less traffic and ability to relax around busy areas before most the crowds hit. If you are into hitting the big clubs – this was around opening weekend, but a few hot spots were stilled closed or just getting into the swing of things.
Where to stay
If you’re chasing more chill then club then you will want to steer clear of the big tourist centres of Ibiza Old Town and San Antonio and cruise further to the North-East where things are a little more laidback. We chose to stay in two different locations, opting for boutique hotels over a villa as there were just the two of us, with each area offering a different experience.
The first half of the week we stayed close by Sant Eularia, near to S’Argamassa. Along a strip of bays you will find local beach bars, the major weekly hippy market, the main port of Sant Eularia itself and a host of villas and hotels. A walk/run track connects all the way around the waters edge, as do ferries connecting from Cala Pada to Sant Eularia (which then go on to Formentera). There is still a buzzing atmosphere around this area, Nikki Beach Club is close by and you are able to easily nip down towards the beaches or old town port.
For the second half we shifted further north to the secluded cliffs above Port de Sant Miquel. Feeling much more isolated over this tip of the island, there are stunning vistas and hidden bays which offers a sense of restoration and calm. The pace is a little slower, but its an ideal base to explore some of the beautiful beaches over this side of the island, get into the groove of the hippy beach at Benirras and explore the towns of Sant Joan and Sant Josep.
Where we stayed
Part of the LHW group, the ME epitomised the luxe, modern vibe of the white isle. Amazing service, champagne buffet brunch, centered around the main pool which overlooked the coast line. There was yoga on offer in the morning, DJ’s by the pool during the day, cocktails at the rooftop bar by night all wrapped up in the ME experience.
Isolated and exclusive, this was the first 5* hotel on the island back in the ‘70s and remains a hidden resort to date. We were lured to this hotel for the breathtaking views from every room. Today it has an art-deco vibe, though this is more happy accident of the design and architecture being back in vogue. It was slightly overpriced and drew in a somewhat older crowd than anticipated, but was a stunning spot to nestle for a few nights and wake up to THAT endless view.
Top tip: With a spa attached to the hotel, book in for a treatment and “experience” in the famous cascading pools – which essentially is a spa pool with different jet strengths, heats and showers, formed in an infinity cascade – which provides the best insta snaps ever…. #wellness.
Passion Café – Playa d’en Bossa, Sant Josep
When looking for delicious healthy food spots on the island this is your go-to. The glowing recommendations it receives from fit foodies are well deserved with a huge menu spanning from delicious brunches to yummy lunches – all well balanced & health focused with high quality produce. Add on some delicious smoothies, gluten free desserts and Insta worthy presentation and you’ve got a hit. We hit up the locations in Sant Josep for a long, lazy lunch under the palm trees and then Playa d’en Bossa for a quick on the go breaky, both being top notch.
Caos Café – Santa Eularia
We quite literally stumbled upon this little gem along the Santa Eularia main beach after a sun-drenched day at Formentera and were pulled in by the mention of organic, slow food offerings. With gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options all on the menu this delightful spot brings out real, honest food that is good for the body and soul – who can turn down a delicious gluten free organic burger?! Plus, they do amazing smoothies by day and sangria by night!
The Giri Café – Sant Joan de Labritja
Tucked into a tiny corner of a somewhat sleepy, hippy town up in the hills, once you walk through the stone interior of this café, you emerge into a beautiful courtyard that oozes the essence of island living. The food here is simple, but delicious and once you score a day lounge or sofa beds, you can settle in for a luxuriously long lunch. It definitely has a reputation as a hot spot within the area, so wait times can be a little long (we didn’t book ahead, but I’m sure you can in peak season) for lunch sittings.
Restaurante Cicale – Sant Joan de Labritja
The most authentic Italian you will find outside of Italy – or even in Italy for that matter! The staff here are attentive, treating you like one of their oldest friends and the quality of the food is spot on. It’s a little bit sceney, with a sense that this is the spot large groups return to each year and you may spot a familiar (celeb) face amongst the crowd. A beautifully lit courtyard on a balmy night makes it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or special occasion. This is full gluten, full goodness Italian using top quality ingredients and a whole lot of amore.
Bambuddha – Santa Eularia
If you are looking for vibes, cocktails and the scene of Ibiza, then this institution is the one for you. You’ll see a whole range of clientele here, from the totally dolled up to the uber chilled all amongst this Buddha filled, darkly lit and balmy estate. Overpriced for the quality of its food, but with a great atmosphere in the lounge, try to nab an area for cocktails with your crew instead of settling in for a long dinner.
Lounge on the beach all day, sit down for a seafood lunch, watch the sunset go down, and plenty of chilled beats all the while complete a day full of Ibizan vibes. Whilst Ibiza isn't short of a beach club, this spot is a little more laid back and perfect for a day of luxe lounging, cocktails and sun worshipping.
Top tip: Book sun lounges ahead of time to guarantee a spot if you want to spend the day and make sure you arrange transport before, the queues for taxis are long with cars few and far between when everyone is ready to bounce!
Aerial Yoga at the ME Ibiza
The ME had an amazing wellness offering that includes free anti-gravity yoga classes daily on the rooftop – with beautiful sea views - what better way to start the day?! The class was taken by the lovely Sonia @soniapittetrainer who safely guided a small group through our first anti-gravity hammock session. With no experience necessary, by the end we were lengthening, tumbling and stretching all whilst getting the best brain boosting flow ever!
Top tip: may not be the best activity with a hangover...
When you're surrounded by the magnetic, healing vibes of this island some yoga flows feel extra juicy. Taking some time to hop onto the mat to breathe, move and build up a little sweat is the best way to kick off a new day and build a sense of grounding. I tend to just move with what feels good whilst on holiday, but if you prefer to follow along I tend to check out some YouTube videos or utilise Yoga Anytime for inspiration.
The island is filled with tracks and trails along its hilly terrain and ocean cliffs. There are countless websites which detail the best walks for your desired length and stamina, whilst guided tours are possible too. Our tactic? heading out for a walk and hoping we could find the way back!
The most popular of these hikes is finding the best view of Es Vedra. Driving away from Carla D’Hort there is a dirt pathway where you turn right towards the coast. From here you can either park up or drive further down and then hike up to find hidden cliff tops and pathways. Up in a bush track further ahead exists an old Pirate Tower - be warned it's a pretty steep climb! We went about half way (arguably we were not dressed appropriately - Birkenstocks aren't the best for a rugged climb) but it was stunning. Viewing the tower ahead of us, we decided it was better saved for next time when we were better prepared, with say some proper shoes and a water bottle! From here, there is also rumoured to be a hidden cove of Atlantis, to reach it you have to climb down some steep cliff faces – so best to do with a guide- but if you are interested, the photos look beautiful!
This magical spot is rumoured to be the third most magnetic spot in the world after the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle and draws a crowd for its healing, magical powers. The first time you see this Island is simply breathtaking as it commands the horizon. This is the perfect spot for a late afternoon picnic or claim a spot amongst the crowds drawn at sunset and take the time to sit, meditate and reflect. There is a sense of calm and clarity that emerges and truly you do feel the magical spirit of this powerful rock.
Top Tip: The beach at Cala D’Hort is a beautiful small bay tucked below the pathway Es Vedra not only offers a beautiful vantage point but is also a top beach to check out.
Port de Benirras Sunday Sundowner
On any given Sunday afternoon turn up to the beach at Benirras and get drawn to the magical drumming circle at the far end of the beach. With a crowd dancing in the lapping waves on the shore and hypnotic rhthyms from a solid crew of percussionists, you become drawn in to the magic and can't help but begin joining in. Stay for sunset and enjoy a sundowner at any one of the seaside bars, soaking up the hippy atmosphere.
Formentera – Playa de Illetas
If it’s crystal clear aqua water and white sandy beaches you are after, you NEED to come to Playa de Illetas. The long spit at the northern tip of this island offers some of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen in Europe. Heading over on a daytrip is as simple as jumping on a ferry and watching the ocean roll by until you arrive. From here hire a bike, scooter or car and head out along to the sparkling bay. You’ll want a few hours here to soak it up and there are plenty of bars and beach vendors to keep your thirst quenched under the sun.
Top tip: Whilst it is super appealing to hire a quad bike, the road block tolls don’t let you take them up to Playa de Illetas, so opt for a bike, scooter or car so you can actually get to the beaches!
Showing more than just super clubs and tacky tourists, this sun-drenched island is packed full of adventure, magnetic magic, great food, beautiful beaches and of course, a few cocktails because #balance. My only real question is - how soon can I go back?