I've wanted to go to Ibiza for about 8 years now, and it's fair to say I've always been put off with thoughts of; will I feel old, I'm not cool enough, is it full of British larger louts? And then a couple of years ago my friend who teaches Yoga told me she had been to Ibiza teaching a retreat and absolutely loved it, so I decided to do some more research.
In the meantime my Sister-In-Law and her partner called one day and said that they decided to go to Ibiza for a long weekend, so at that point, we decided to bite the bullet and book it!
I didn't just want to go and see the clubbing side of the island. Like when we travel anywhere I wanted to see the real Ibiza, where the locals live, the beautiful countryside and charming villages, so we had a really good mix! We stayed in Cala Benirras in the north for four nights, Cala Llonga for three nights and Sant Jordi for one night. See below for more details on where we stayed.
In the run up as I was telling people that I was going to Ibiza reactions were mixed and the majority of people joked about it being 'chavvy' and 'British' etc, which couldn't be further from the truth! This is Ibiza...but not as most people know it...
I decided to write this blog to give other people advice and also show the true beauty of this gorgeous island. I have used a mix of images from my DSLR, pocket camera and iPhone.
Cala Benirras; A place to relax, unwind and enjoy the sunset...
My friend who teaches Yoga - Kirsty, had mentioned a beach where the hippies of the island still gather to drum as the sun sets, practice early morning yoga and has a really easy going attitude - Cala Benirras. Ever since she mentioned it I was intrigued and wanted to know more so it was the first place I looked at.
Unfortunately for us, but fortunate for the locals of Benirras there are no hotels/ b&b's in the direct vicinity, so I looked online for hours and hours, before finding this little gem! Vila Benirras is a traditional Ibizan Villa sunk in to the hillside over looking the coast. Owned by lovely Lina and her family she rents out three of the bedrooms on the ground floor, whilst the family live above. We booked our room through AirB&B, which we have never used before. I was a little apprehensive and worried whether it would be like staying in someone's house, but it was wonderful!
Our bedroom was private, on the ground floor with an en-suite bathroom and we shared the living and kitchen areas with two other couples. Both couples were so lovely we shared a drink with them in the evening but didn't feel like we had to always be talking to them. One day they were both out and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!
The Vila is situated just a two minute walk from Benirras beach where there are three restaurants and a Pizzeria. However, there aren't any shops near by so stock up! It's a 15 minute car journey to the nearest town - but we quite liked being remote.
The must see at Cala Benirras is the sunset. Every night people gather on the beach to watch the sunset whilst listening to the growing beat of the drums, providing a really emotional soundtrack as the sun goes down. Traditionally Cala Benirras is famous for its Sunday gatherings, when the road gets blocked and the car parks overflow. However, we were there on a Thursday and Friday night and the atmosphere was perfect. I would avoid Sundays from what I have heard.
As the sun sets revellers enjoy dancing to the drums, sipping a mojito made by the locals that rock up and make them on the beach or just simply taking a dip in the crystal clear waters. Either way it really is the perfect way to enjoy the last few moments of the day.
Cala Benirras - Where to eat?
After dark, there are a small choice of restaurants to choose from. Price wise they are all very similar and not the cheapest on the island, but considering the setting they can get away with it.
Elements - This is the most polished restaurant at Cala Benirras. It is a stunning place to eat, cool music, relaxed atmosphere and stunning decor. We ate there twice; once for breakfast and once for dinner. I have to say that our breakfast experience was perfect and wish we had gone every morning. Our dinner experience was ok, but they seem to only employ etherial, model like staff who make you feel like you are lucky to be in their presence...maybe it was just one member of staff but there was just something that made us feel a little un-comfortable. Having said that I would go back, especially for drinks as there is a nice atmosphere.
Out of the other two restaurants we only ate at the one on the left if you are facing the beach and that was really good. You can't beat Calamari and Alioli, the staff were attentive and the food was good.
The Pizzeria was meant to be amazing but closes at 7.30 every night so we never managed to catch it.
Hang out at HIDDEN Bar
As we headed to the South of the island we stopped off at a bar that some friends had told us about - Hidden Bar. This cool little piece of land is like nothing else I have ever seen. I have no idea how to describe it so I will leave it to them;
"Hidden is set in a mature magical garden of delights, a fantasy spot 'Alice in Wonderland' would feel right at home in. Everywhere you look there is something more beautiful at every turn and so many things to do."
Enjoy a drink from the kitsch bar with low lying lamp shades and a very angry gnome! Play mini-golf or giant chess, or even get married in the chapel that they have built especially for Ibizan Weddings! Its definitely something a little different! For more information visit www.hidden-bar.com/discover-us/
Cala Llonga; Party and Play Time
After four nights of chilling out and soaking up the 'real Ibiza' it was time to go and face the music, literally! So my sister-in-law Rachel and her boyfriend Kieran came to pick us up and took us to Cala Llonga which is about a 15 minute drive from Ibiza Town.
We stayed at La Gumba apartments which were perfect for what we needed - a bathroom, bedroom and double sofa bed with a nice big balcony looking over the bay of Cala Llonga - view below! The only problem is that with that view comes a LOT of steps!!!!
On our first night we ventured to Ibiza Town which is STUNNING! Cobbled streets, gorgeous bars, restaurants and shops and yachts like I have never seen before... they were more like Passenger Ferries with the opulence of a palace.
On the second evening a friend had recommended booking a table at Cafe Mambo. I booked the table before we went to Ibiza and was advised that you have to agree to a minimum spend of 70 Euros each...thats on food and drink. Cafe Mambo is one of those places that Nick and I have wanted to visit for so long. Having spent long Summers listening to Radio 1 every week come live from there and one of our favourite DJ's Roger Sanchez used to have a residency there. When we arrived it was completely not what I expected which is weird as I have seen a lot of pictures! But we had a fantastic time, Pete Tong provided the soundtrack and a great evening was had by all!
The following evening we decided to go to Pacha in Ibiza Town to see Basement Jaxx DJ amongst others. The thing that I REALLY loved about Ibiza was that you could go out for a gorgeous meal with friends, enjoy some wine and then at 12 hit the clubs, it was like having two nights out in one.
Santa Eulària des Riu
Time for something completely different...
After seeing two completely different sides of Ibiza we had one last night left. We decided to screw the budget, but we still didn't want to stay somewhere brash and flashy. We opted for Finca Can Toni in a small suburb called Sant Jordi. 'Finca' is Spanish for Estate, and this little Ibizan estate didn't let us down. With only seven rooms all on ground level, a small but perfectly formed swimming pool and a charming restaurant and bar area Finca Can Toni was a lovely little surprise.
Even though we only stayed one night we felt really at home and the service from the staff was impeccable! I am just gutted that I didn't take any pictures of the rooms as they were beautiful, Ibizan rustic at its best.
End on a high...
On our final night we ventured in to Ibiza Town, which I had totally fallen in love with... the perfect way to end the perfect holiday...