There are many sides to Ibiza – the clubs, the sunsets, the beaches – but where can you find the true beauty and bohemian roots of the White Isle? The truth is, all has become entangled in one inimitable summer experience, but if you’re seeking moments of tranquillity, step this way…
Lead image: Casa Maca (photo courtesy Mambo Group)
Taking in a sunset outside of Café Mambo or Café Del Mar is a rite of passage when embarking on one’s ‘spiritual awakening’ on the White Isle. Or, you know, just a great way to kick off a large night out.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a must. The people. The music. The buzz. All eyes to the sky as the sun disappears over the watery horizon in a blaze of orange glory. What we didn’t expect, perched outside Café Del Mar drinking cocktails, was an epic storm.
The sky went from overcast to moody to dark and stormy pretty swiftly, and as the wind picked up and the rain came down, diners, drinkers and passers-by were all ushered indoors to take shelter. The rain always finds us on holiday, but this was something else – a friend of ours, flying to Majorca that same day, had had their flight diverted due to the wind. We must have really rankled Zeus for he really did throw some thunderbolts. Either that or, well, cheers, climate change.
The rain lashed down, turning the streets into rivers, but the DJ simply cranked up the volume on a Basement Jaxx track, that Blitz spirit kicked in and everyone went wild. Still, it was a memorable experience, and that’s what Ibiza’s all about – nights you’ll never forget.
This holiday, however, was more about seeing this island for what it really is – a beautiful place full of hidden coves, glorious beaches and sunsets that make you reconsider your whole life.
And we picked two of the best spots to stay to appreciate Ibiza’s calmer side. First up, Casa Maca, an easy 10-15 minute taxi ride from the airport and tantalisingly close to Playa d’en Bossa, yet a world away from the madness.
Casa Maca is a beautiful old (but still working) farmhouse with just 10 suites, all full of white linens, natural wood and rural charm. Located on a gentle hillside, you can take in the most wonderful views of Dalt Villa, Ibiza’s old fortress town, and the Mediterranean sea behind it, while lounging by the pool.
The restaurant here is really something. Breakfast and lunch are served on the terrace in front of the main hotel hub, while dinner is served at the open-air dining space, an exquisite series of terraces festooned with fairylights and complete with an open fire-pit, gleaming Airstream bar and a DJ. Beautifully cooked steaks, fresh fish, farm-grown vegetables and fine wines make for a wonderful evening.
‘This place is a knock-your-socks-off kinda spot; small and authentic’
We hired a car from Avantcar to reach our next destination, another iconic spot to take in a sunset – Hostal La Torre at Cap Negret, over on the north side of the island near San Antonio. It’s only a 20-minute drive away, unless you hire a manual instead of the automatic that your partner asked you to get, in which case the going can be a little slower…
This place too, is a knock-your-socks-off kinda spot; small and authentic with views that I would happily choose as my last on this earth. You enter the property via a gorgeous Mediterranean courtyard garden. The rooms are quite basic but beautiful – all white-washed and terracotta-tiled. It’s certainly not The Ritz, but that’s not why people come here – it’s all about that terrace.
Perched atop a rocky outcrop, with nothing to spoil your views of the horizon – where the sea meets the sky to a backdrop of the most spectacular sunsets – this is one of the hottest spots on the island for drinks and dinner. New for 2021 is an exclusive Perrier Joüet pairing experience, featuring dishes such as salmon and avocado tartare and Argentinean tagliata of tenderloin with summer truffle.
It’s so peaceful here. You can wander out onto the rocky outcrop to lose yourself in the moment, surrounded only by nature while Hostel la Torre disappears unobtrusively into the background. Book yourself a junior suite with seas views so that you can drink in that glorious view from dawn to dusk.
‘Nearby, a wonderful hidden cove offers up the most idyllic setting for a weekend brunch by the beach’
Nearby, a wonderful hidden cove offers up the most idyllic setting for a weekend brunch by the beach: El Chiringuito Cala Gracioneta. This outdoor venue is carved out of the sides of the cove, creating the most charmingly higgledy-piggledy setting that weaves itself among the trees and down onto the beach.
Dine on padrón peppers, calamari, croquettes and grilled octopus, before laying out on the beach and splashing about in the aquamarine sea. The odd speedboat will glide into the waters full of bikini-clad holidaymakers, but this spot seems to be mostly occupied by locals and families, many of whom scramble across the rocks to the adjacent cove, or swim across if they haven’t indulged in one too many cervesas.
This is what Ibiza should be. The original free spirit of the white isles is to be found here, outdoors, among nature and with great food, not in the sweaty halls of Amnesia bouncing around to Calvin Harris (although, yes, during my last trip to Ibiza about eight years ago that was a lot of fun too, as was Space, Ushuaïa and Hard Rock Hotel).
There’s more than way to discover your spiritual side in Ibiza and, now, as I hurtle towards the grand old age of 40, I choose this way – the sea, the sunsets and the occasional storm.