Ibiza is world renowned as one of Europe’s wildest party playgrounds. Yet this tiny jewel of the western Mediterranean holds many big surprises for first time visitors whose curiosity leads them beyond the island’s notorious night clubs.
One of the four Spanish Balearic Islands, Ibiza lies 100 kilometres East of mainland Spain. It became a favoured package holiday destination in the late 60s when an influx of flower power Bohemian types focused world attention on what later became known as Ecstasy Island.
Ibiza ’s night scene is hard to beat but there’s so much more to it than just binge drinking, brawling and drug taking which has been given such a high profile by the British tabloids. There are some truly classy clubs on the island, especially in the capital, Ibiza Town, where the sophisticated smart set (often including a sprinkling of Hollywood celebs) arrive by private yacht for a night out.
Many of the big name clubs such as El Divino and Pacha ooze style and panache and Ibiza Town is a cosmopolitan place awash with elegant restaurants and trendy late night music bars. It’s a fascinating place to visit at any time of the year with its walled old quarter (the D’Alt Vila), winding cobbled streets and a 16th century Cathedral affording spectacular views of the Eastern part of the island.
By contrast, the other main party place on the island – San Antonio on the West coast – becomes a virtual ghost town out of season. This purpose built holiday resort is shamelessly devoted to ensuring that summer nights are wild, long and varied enough to satisfy the hordes of foreign fun and sun seekers (mostly British) who descend here from June to September.
San Antonio is the culprit in terms of giving rise to some of the more lurid newspaper stories about badly behaved Brits. But with its famous 'West End' chock-a-block with every conceivable type of pub, club and disco it’s the perfect place to base yourself if the main purpose of your holiday is to party all night, every night.
Beyond Ibiza Town and San Antonio, you’ll find another world of beautiful unspoilt countryside, traditional villages and farmsteads and a way of life virtually untouched by tourism. It seems impossible that such a small island (about 40 kilometres by 20 kilometres) can offer so much diversity.
Even though you can easily drive around it in a day, Ibiza really does have something for everyone.
There are more than 60 beaches ranging from long, sandy stretches well served with a host of sports and leisure facilities to delightful hidden coves only reached by boat or on foot.
The northern end of the island is particularly beautiful with its unblemished acres of lemon and olive groves, green hillsides, water melon fields and rugged cliffs. Mercifully the local planning authorities have protected the island from the over-development which has ravaged so many coastal areas of mainland Spain.
Sant Joesp holds just 9,095 inhabitants and its is here where you can find one of the island's most beautiful churches, along with the beaches of Cala which holds just 1,244 inhabitants.
The magnificent church is typical of Ibizan style, and the Chapel-cum-Catacombs of Santa Inies can be found at the mouth of the only river on the Balearic Islands.