Destination Guide to Ibizaby Rebecca Tay
A Canadian based in London, Rebecca Tay, Net-a-Porter‘s Head of Marketing Content, travels to a beach destination at least once a year, but in the case of Ibiza, sometimes five or six times a summer. First visiting in 2009, she heads back every year, drawn to its bohemian spirit, no-holds-barred hedonism, and, of course, beautiful beaches. Naturally, she now knows the Balearic island like the back of her hand and dishes on her top spots.
Mirador de Dalt Vila
Originally built in 1904, the Mirador de Dalt Vila served as the residence for the Fajarnés family for generations—and it retains that old-world-y, classic feel you only find in grand, historic homes of its type. You’ll find it smack dab in the centre of Dalt Vila, Ibiza’s picturesque old town and a UNESCO World Heritage site, just a stone’s throw from the city walls that protected the area in the 16th century and the perfect lookout to the sea. The rooms are grand, with traditional, opulent décor: think lots of marble, dark wood, and gilt finishes. Large windows and gauzy white curtains keep them bright and airy, never claustrophobic, while heated towel racks, a Jacuzzi, and modern electronics are 21st-century, five-star hotel necessities. The family’s collection of paintings by local artists adorns the walls, and their terrace—combined with a delicious breakfast of fresh coffee and Revolution tea, pastries, charcuterie, and eggs cooked any way—is a great place to start the day.
Hotel Aguas de Ibiza
Like a tall glass of ice cold water and a blast of air conditioning after a sweltering day at the beach, Hotel Aguas de Ibiza is refreshingly cool, calm and collected. Its pared-down, contemporary interiors are a welcome change from the boho vibe at so many of the island’s other properties. It’s tucked away in Santa Eularia, an area in the north of the island that feels more local. If you visit Ibiza during the winter, you’ll find that it retains a bit of a buzz while the rest of the island is much, much quieter. It’s easy to make yourself at home here, especially with everything you need—delicious restaurant, excellent spa menu, chilled-out pool area, amazing views, beach nearby, and blackout blinds—at hand.
EAT & DRINK
This place is quite literally its namesake: a simple shack that pops up sometime in May and serves some of the best fish on the island. You can’t reserve, but even if you can’t get there early or late (before 1 p.m. or after 3:30 p.m.), the wait’s never more than half an hour and always worth it. The grilled squid, dorada and sea bass are personal faves, and finish with a boozy café de caleta. To find it, just head for the Sa Punta restaurant in Talamanca, then keep driving over the rocks until you see the shack.
Perched on top of a 50-foot cliff on the southwest of the island, with views of the Es Vedra rock formation, Es Boldado is an Ibiza classic. Their specialty is fresh fish, and they’ve been serving the same dishes for the last 30 years (if it ain’t broken…), including what’s arguably the best paella on the island. Though its setting alone is breathtaking enough to warrant a visit.
A hotspot on Es Cavallet beach, El Chiringuito is wildly popular thanks to its perfect mix of luxe-meets-languid ambience. It’s a buzzy place that offers the pristine white sand and luxury sun bed experience you want in Ibiza, and its menu never fails to deliver. Start with oysters and cocktails, then cancel the rest of your afternoon plans: this is going to be an extended lunch.
The sister property to El Chiringuito, Beachouse is the most stylish after-dark hangout in Playa d’en Bossa if you feel like dinner and dancing but can’t commit to a night out at one of the superclubs. The menu has an Italian slant—the vitello tonnato, lobster linguine and beef tagliata are good choices—and you’ll want to head here on a Sunday for Guy Gerber’s session, Rumors.
Camí de Balàfia
When it comes to the battle for the best grilled meat on the island, Camí de Balàfia and Can Pilot are, without a doubt, the two contenders for the top spot. The former has a small menu and slightly better ambience. The outdoor garden is the perfect spot for a very, very long and boozy lunch, while its off-the-beaten-track location means that a meal here feels a bit more like a special occasion. Be sure to start with the tomato salad, which is unforgettable, before moving on to grilled lamb chops, steak, or free-range chicken.
If Camí de Balàfia is the place to go for delicious grilled meat in the countryside, then Can Pilot is the slightly more convenient option. Set in the heart of the centrally located town of San Rafael, this is a true local fave. Regulars come here for generous portions of flavorful, succulent meat (chuleton, the T-bone for two, comes sprinkled with rock salt and a grill for you to brown it to your liking), perfectly salty pimientos de Padrón, and crispy fried potatoes with garlic and peppers. The crowd feels authentically Spanish, thanks in part to the no-frills, speedy service which can feel slightly intimidating but adds to the overall experience. However, don’t be surprised if you spot familiar faces: music industry insiders have been known to come here. Reserve a table in advance.
With multiple locations around the island, Passion Café is a true Ibiza success story, born and bred out of its owner’s personal hunt for health-conscious, nutrient-packed ingredients. Pop in for a juice or smoothie, or stay for a superfood salad, quinoa bowl or raw burger. The Marina Botafoch outpost is the original and still my fave, though the one in Santa Eularia has the prettiest location, right on the promenade.
If you feel like a change from Mediterranean or Spanish fare, Coricancha is a great spot for Nikkei cuisine (Peruvian-Japanese). Opened a few years ago by the owners of Blue Marlin, the menu is light and flavorful, with seven varieties of ceviche, lots of anticuchos (meat or veggies served on skewers), plus mains such as chargrilled octopus or sea bass wrapped in banana leaf with coconut, zucchini, cactus, corn and mint. Ask for a table on the terrace: the views of the Salinas salt flats at sunset are Instagram gold.
One of the few places in Ibiza to find brands like Helmut Lang, Comme des Garcons and Drkshdw, reVOLVER is something of an Ibiza Town institution—so much so that it even has its own spinoff, reVOLVER Sunglasses, where you can find designer sunnies by the likes of Linda Farrow, Thierry Lasry, and my fave, Dita. Head to both if you need a break from floaty, boho wares—or if you just have a hankering to flash a little retail cash.
With a few outposts dotted around the island, Mayurka is where you’ll find international designers like Balenciaga, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Valentino and Victoria Beckham. It’s worth keeping an eye out for their end-of-season sales, as well—I usually manage to find a good selection of heavily discounted dresses and shoes in my size.
You could call this shop Aladdin’s cave in Ibiza Town: there are so many treasures to discover, and it’s impossible to leave without a fabulous new find. Owner Vicente Hernandez can often be found in the shop regaling his customers with tales of his worldly travels. Between the well-curated selection of Hernandez’s own designs made in India, the goodies picked up from his trips to South America, and an enormous vintage collection categorized by clothing type (the hand-knit Mexican sweaters and earrings in the cabinet are pretty stellar), it’s a place to get lost in for a few hours.
Held every Saturday in San Carlos, this busy market is my fave market in Ibiza thanks to its combination of excellent shopping and fun food and drink stalls. Start with a popsicle made from natural juice before moving on to a slice of pizza and a margarita or a beer in the heart of the market, then finish with freshly squeezed orange juice or a coffee at the restaurant before getting on with the rest of your afternoon. Look past the touristy tat and you’ll find some real gems: from caftans galore and crocheted espadrilles to handmade leather belts, dreamcatchers, herb-infused soaps and much more.
For a more rustic beach day, this a favorite escape. It’s a true nudist beach and relatively small, so it’s not actually that quiet, but it definitely has a more local, less glitzy feeling to it—a good place to finish a good book. It’s also pretty close (approximately 200m away) to Cala Conta, another beloved beach, so if you find yourself craving more of a scene, you can always pop over to Sunset Ashram for dinner and drinks.
If you want more of a remote beach, the ones in the north should do the trick, though you should plan to get there a bit earlier in the day as the sun disappears behind the cliffs by around 4:30 p.m. Aguas Blancas is a picturesque option, while Benirras is great for sunset; it also hosts a troupe of bongo players every Sunday night which draws a bit of a crowd, albeit a super laid-back one. The sand on these beaches isn’t pristine, but brushing away a bit of dried seaweed never hurt anyone.
Es Cavallet and Salinas are great beaches near to both Playa d’en Bossa and the airport. The former is officially a nude beach and a bit quieter if you want to lie on the sand, while the latter is just around the headland and offers some of the bluest, clearest water (crystal clear is an understatement) and best people watching on the island.
This is a stone beach, which puts some people off, but the Blue Marlin beach club offers one of the best daytime party scenes in Ibiza. The crowd tends to be fashion-y (think expensive bikinis with a gauzy, sheer dress on top), but it’s definitely cool (think Alaïa sandals, not heels).
If you can find time for a day trip to Formentera, it’s definitely worth it: it’s just 30 minutes on the fast ferry from Ibiza Town and costs less than €50 for a return journey. Once you’re there, rent a scooter from one of the vendors in the port, then zip to Sant Francesc, the main town, for a coffee and a quick look around, before heading to Illetes, where you’ll find the whitest sand around. Be warned, it gets crowded in July and August (especially when the rest of Europe shuts down), but if you walk 10 minutes past the parking lot, you can definitely find a patch of sand to call your own. Bring a picnic and a sarong as there aren’t any bars, beach sellers or sun beds this far out.