Ibiza is a firmly established hedonist’s paradise, but away from the throbbing basslines of its superclubs the island has a seductive rural heart which is a haven for hiking, biking, kayaking and rock climbing.
At the navel of the island’s modest 50km by 18km dimensions is a relatively undiscovered landscape that, with its forested hills and meandering stony roads, is quite the adventurer’s playground.
TNT’s Rebecca Kent visited the lesser-known Ibiza.
On the farm
My remote base for the weekend is Can Lluc, a farmhouse converted into a rustic luxury rural hotel and one of a clutch of ‘agroturismos’ on the island. It is a term used to describe a place of accommodation in Ibiza’s wooded landscape, sustained by its own farm. With huge terraces and the site shrouded with fragrant jasmine bushes, peeling yourself off a poolside deckchair takes some conviction. But the active pursuits in store are lure enough.
Hiking and hippies
Setting off from the remote village of Sant Mateu d’aubarca in the north west, we embark on a three-hour hiking trip near takes in the archaeological site of Torres d’en Lluc, which comprises the ruins of two ancient towers and defensive walls that date back to the middle ages. We spy a portly, elderly village woman plucking almonds from a tree canopy and the scene strikes me as timeless – a snapshot of the 1960s when droves of hippies flocked to this mesmerising outpost.
Our trail meanders through vineyards and cultivated fields, and past raggedy farmhouses. Before long we are greeted by sweeping views of the pristine Mediterranean. Taking in the vista atop a rocky cliff top, I pluck a handful of rosemary from the wild and verdant bushes, and with the herb-infused ocean air in my nostrils, we make it to a charming family restaurant, Can Cires.
Mountain biking off the tapas
We reward our efforts – not least for overtaking a coach-load of plucky German walkers along the way – with a boozy tapas lunch. But there’s little time to beat ourselves up over our gluttony, as we are suddenly astride our mountain bikes and carving a downhill route along the rugged terrain, through villages and fields, towards the south-west coast and the achingly fashionable and bombastic resort of San Antonio. High on athletic self-righteousness, we sweep past tanned beachcombers in their whites and oversized sunglasses.
Day two, and with no rest for the wicked or over-indulged (last night we made a serious dent in a seafood paella and the scrumptious traditional Ibizan dessert, greixonera) we slip into kayaks and paddle through the transparent waters off Puerto de San Miguel. Without venturing too far, we duck into caves and skirt rocky islets, then object when the time comes to return to shore.
Ibiza is blessed with some 80 beaches and secluded coves that all boast pristine waters and their own distinct atmosphere, shaped by the local communities and the types of tourists who have traditionally visited.
Perhaps one of the island’s most distinguished and idyllic is Benirras beach (above) in the north. It is Ibiza hippydom’s favourite, where folk gather at sunset near the small chiringuito, or refreshment stall, at the far end of the bay. Legendary in Ibizan hippy folklore, the 300m-wide, sandy cove is said to have been the site of wild sex and drug orgies in the 1960s. Head there on summer afternoons to watch bongo players converge to drum down the sunset.
Hit the clubs
It would be remiss to travel all this way and swerve the superclubs that have sealed Ibiza’s place so indelibly on the tourist map. So I lose my head a little with the other doofheads in a last hurrah to Ibiza, but as I do, it’s with a smug sense of knowing that I’ve experienced a side of this bewitching island that few others have.
WHEN TO GO: June to September is the warmest and most fun time to visit.
GETTING THERE: EasyJet and Ryanair both fly to Ibiza from London.
GETTING AROUND: Cabs are cheap, otherwise, hire a bike or have an expert guide you from Mammoth Ibiza (ibizasport.com).
VISAS: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.21 EUR.
GOING OUT: A beer will cost about €1.80 (but €5 at Café del Mar, and €10 at a club).
ACCOMMODATION: There are plenty of options. If you’re venturing out to San Juan and have
a few extra euros to spend then Giri Residence – a boutique hotel and space – has received rave reviews for its style and luxury (thegiri.com). Or, the best way to experience rural Ibiza is by staying in agroturismos.
GET MORE INFO AT: ibiza.travel