Ibiza: 5 Places to Find Peace on Spain's Party Island
January 1, 1970
by Gemma Crane
Spain’s ‘White Island’, so-called for its prosperity in salt production, has gained a reputation for wild and drunken nights out. If that’s not your thing Ibiza could seem a bit intimidating, right? Don’t leave it off your destination list just yet, though, because this island in the south of the Balearic archipelago has much more to offer behind the boozy and bustling nightlife scenes it is all too often made synonymous with. On my trip as an Ibiza first-timer, we rented a car to explore the island, leaving the plush and lively beach bars of Playa D’en Bossa behind, on a quest to discover more peaceful and quiet resorts for those who prefer to holiday at a slower pace…
Puerto De San Miguel
First stop is Puerto De San Miguel, on Ibiza’s northern coast. We have just cruised straight up through the hills from San Antonio, the renowned resort for melting pot gold sunsets and electrifying mega-clubs. The thrill of San Antonio doesn’t stop in daylight either, but its sounds are quickly drowned out by a mountain road shrouded with pine trees. The valley eventually opens up, and the descent into Puerto De San Miguel begins.
Once a traditional fishing village, San Miguel has taken a steady incline into resort status, boasting a small and friendly atmosphere far from the honeypot destinations of the island. It’s the perfect place for families and couples in search of the hidden tranquillity around Ibiza’s turquoise waters, wrapped in cliffs that are steeped in history. Here, you can find the mysterious Cuevas de Can Màrça and retrace the footsteps of smugglers through the vast caverns. While San Miguel is set back in its own cove of serenity, it’s never too distant from the larger tourists hubs, with excellent bus links to Eivissa (Ibiza Town) and San Antonio.
To the very north-eastern tip of Ibiza, we arrive into Portinatx. Portinatx is a larger resort, built into the hills. I notice El Greco Hotel Water Park, which dominates the cliff face with its water slides. The beach is dotted with sun loungers overlooking an aqua shoreline, which seems to gradient gently into a darker hue before coming to an end abruptly where the oceanic blue of the Balearic Sea begins. I spot little figures frolicking happily in the waves. The water here provides a shallow haven for families with young children.
We park at Cala Portinatx, a smaller beach around the headland. Here is the quaint fishing marina of Portinatx, a sure indication of history that is still present in the area. There are old boathouses here with arched doorways and little wooden dinghies outside, bobbing absentmindedly on the surface. Newer boats occasionally jet out of the cove while we stand with drinks from the beach bar and locals sit outside the boathouses chatting over the days’ newspaper. We walk across the sandy car park to take a look over the rocks towards the Far Des Moscarter Lighthouse, a tall, thin, helter-skelter-like structure that can be hiked to.
Refreshed from our peaceful pit stop, we migrate back south again, to Es Caná, a resort framed by a curvature cove dappled with patches of coral among the aquamarine water. There are some beachfront restaurants here, as well as some classic Spanish chill-out lounge bars. Es Caná prides itself on being the resort that has it all; a lively yet relaxed nightlife scene, water sports and a famous hippy market. Each Wednesday, Punta Arabí Hippy Market welcomes tourists to peruse a variety of trinkets, jewellery and souvenirs, often handmade. I am disappointed not to have experienced it myself, but I have made a mental note to return and make the most of my visit.
We dedicate quite some time to discovering Santa Eulalia and have a late lunch there. Ibiza is relatively small compared to its neighbouring giant, Mallorca, so you can see a lot in a day. Incidentally, Santa Eulalia is where we were supposed to have been staying. A booking error turned out to be a rather happy accident that resulted in our relocation to a sister hotel in Playa D’en Bossa, but Santa Eulalia is no less the resort we hoped it would be. If there is ever a town on Ibiza that demonstrates slow, quiet and thoughtful island living, Santa Eulalia is it. Sure, you can still purchase your club merchandise in the Pacha Shop on the promenade, but Santa Eulalia is the ultimate town for a relaxed cultural experience. The town hall, a 19th Century gem reminiscent of grand Ibicenco architecture sets the backdrop for an impressive water fountain.
We stroll past the parade of shops, towards the beach. Overlooking the marina and the bay, we eat in a little beachside café beneath a parasol that envelops us in a cool, welcoming hug after the heat of the car. Our lunch is followed by a walk along the beachfront, lined with perfect palms, towards a bridge that crosses a river to several smart hotels on the other side. The quaintness of Santa Eulalia tantalises me with the notion that I must come back to stay there some time.
Marking our final destination before returning to our hotel, fulfilled and enriched with new knowledge about Spain’s dazzling party island with something for everyone, we pass through Cala Llonga. A wide beach is adorned with hotels and apartments that sport fantastic sea views and picturesque pine-topped hills. The area feels inclusive and safe, making it an ideal resort for couples and young children. This miniature resort isn’t the best for shopping but, for the most relaxed and easy-going holiday, you have everything you need with a supermarket, pharmacy and souvenir shops. There are also very good transport links here, as buses turn up to shuttle people into Ibiza Town for the day.
Exhausted and exceptionally pink from the heat, we return with an answer to the question we set out with. Does Ibiza have places to go for peace and quiet? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The island truly offers the best of both worlds, so whether you are a party-type or not, you’ll find something special here that floats your boat. And if you do have the urge to leave your peaceful haven for the neon strobes of the iconic party scene, Ibiza’s got you covered – you are never too far from a bus that will take you there!