The noisiest of the Balearic Islands has other well-kept treasures besides its fancy parties. In recent years, the white island has been constantly renewing itself and attracts both the jet-set and families looking for tranquillity. Here’s an insider’s discovery of the wild and discreet Ibiza for an invigorating family holiday.
Ibiza is often presented as the island of partying, a paradise for debauchery, gogo dancers and caipirinha. Wrongly so, since you just have to respect a few fundamentals to make your way between clubbers hooked on techno, baba-cool nudists and the ballets of stars. In fact, it is in low season that the island reveals itself: remove its artifices and Ibiza will reveal its true face, that of an island with authentic charm where the Balearic art of living rhymes with softness and absolute tranquillity, at the antipodes of the image conveyed by the popular press and the English tabloids. Scattered throughout this article, you will discover our 10 commandments for a successful family holiday in Ibiza.
From June 15th to September 5th, just run away! You’ll avoid ending up in a giant nightclub: the party sector is relatively concentrated and operates mainly in high season, leaving Ibiza 10 months to prove to those who doubt it that it has much more to offer than its clubs and its expensive magnums of champagne. Although the weather is mostly sunny and hot (even scorching) from July to August, the weather remains good and dry all year round. June and September are beautiful months to visit the island family-style. The off-season is also pleasant, with temperatures in May and October around 20°C. Between November and April, the mercury fluctuates between 8 and 20 °C. The winter is mild with some rain from December to February.
Nestled in the Mediterranean, halfway between Spain and Algeria, Ibiza, or Eivissa in Catalan, is the result of cross-cultural influences. Fallen into the hands of the Phoenicians, governed by the Romans and then placed under Muslim influence, it is a marvellous patchwork of many identities. The city of Eivissa, marked by its history, offers a troubling sensation of exile. Successive occupations have forged its character and that of its elders who, sitting at 8 o’clock in front of a black coffee, proudly evoke the history of their island. A stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, Dalt Vila, is an opportunity to discover a fortified city full of charm, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
Proudly standing on the heights of the port, the old town offers a beautiful view of the deep blue sea and the island of Formentera in the distance. You’ll get lost and succumb to the charms of its narrow streets with patinated cobblestones. Cross the underground passages, the old facades decorated with flowers and you will find yourself in the lively Vila square with its restaurants, bars and shops. Walk past the Santo Domingo church before climbing to the highest point of the old town where you will discover the Santa Maria cathedral. Then head down to the La Marina district to enjoy the small local shops and, why not, take home some souvenirs.
Ibiza has more than 200 km of coastline dotted with heavenly beaches waiting for your towels, buckets and shovels. Winding through pine trees tormented by the sea breeze, the coastal paths offer breathtaking scenery with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean waters. From the ochre-coloured cliffs, you can spot the confidential beaches and coves with clear waters accessible by narrow, steep paths. So, keep your baskets on, because you’ll have to walk in order to access these corners of paradise cut off from the world. Families with toddlers will prefer the beaches that are easier to reach, but no less charming.
Don’t you dare summarizing Ibiza to its paradisiacal beaches, it would be a big mistake to forget its natural treasures. Explore the island with your little adventurers. Don’t forget to climb to the top of Mount Sa Talial, which rises to 393 metres above sea level and offers beautiful views of the island and its crystal-clear waters. Challenge the children to spot the famous rock of Es Vedrà offshore: a rock more than 400 metres high that rises out of the water. For an immersion between dunes and marshes, head for the Salines Natural Park, located in San Francesc. Children will appreciate the marine fauna that populates the park, including the famous pink flamingo. Finally, plunge into the centre of the earth between stalactites and stalagmites in the Can Marca cave.
There are still a few partygoers staggering towards their beds and then there are the early risers; those who have drawn the curtains in the early hours to see the sunrise over the still calm waters that only a few sailors setting out to sea come to disturb. These brave people can enjoy the beaches before the onslaught of tourists in that very special morning light. It is also the occasion to go to the markets where, on the other hand, animation reaches its peak. To reconnect with the hippy roots of the island, head for the Las Dalias market in the north of the island. Colourful and bohemian, this market has become a local institution where Mediterranean gastronomy mixes with hippie-chic jewellery and clothes.
Between vineyards and remote fields, life follows the rhythm of nature. The traditional fincas have reinvented themselves to welcome visitors to their tables, according to the « farm to table » precept dear to the island’s inhabitants. La Granja, an old farmhouse located in the interior of the country, promotes organic Mediterranean food. Guests can stroll around the beets, aubergines, onions, lemon trees, herbs and fig trees.
Part of the Leading Hotels of The World, the ME Ibiza cultivates relaxation and comfort. Nestled in a beautiful bay, completely secluded from the old town and its hustle and bustle, the hotel is the ideal place to rest and enjoy a family wellness break. A haven of peace, only 35 minutes from the airport, the ME Ibiza features everything you need. Infinity pool with Balinese beds and breathtaking 360° views, direct access to the beach, fully equipped fitness room, restaurants with international cuisine, a luxurious spa for magical moments with your family, and even a hairdressing salon. The modern, minimalist rooms offer unparalleled luxury with attention to detail to make both young and old feel at home.
If you fancy a great escape to Formentera, the hotel’s 2 private boats can take you on a trip to the nearby island of Ibiza, another jewel of the Balearic Islands. Accessible only by sea, the island of rugged beauty offers one of the most transparent waters in the Mediterranean thanks to the presence of seagrass that acts as a natural filter and a refuge for myriads of fish. You can easily hire snorkelling equipment or try your hand at diving with Blue Adventure to take the children on a journey of discovery of the colours of underwater life.
Raising children is not always a relaxing experience, that’s a fact. So, when you feel like catching your breath, let the hotel’s kids-club animators take over to disconnect body and mind during a sunny yoga class on the rooftop of the hotel. The ultra-confidential Antigravity yoga or Feeling Good Yoga classes, given by hand-picked teachers, invite you to discover new sensations and to let go.
An elegant spot located just a few steps from Eivissa on the east coast of the island, the Hotel Aguas de Ibiza is far away from the preconceived ideas about Ibiza. This establishment, run by a family deeply attached to its island, offers a new and totally eco-friendly concept of luxury. Reminiscent of a hippie past, eco-chic hotels flourish on the island. In this haven of peace, everything has been thought out so that travellers can enjoy a comfortable and responsible stay. Relaxation begins in the rooms, thanks to the arrangement based on Feng shui learning. Spacious and bathed in light, the suites with a breathtaking view of the emerald sea, the hotel’s freshwater swimming pool and its state-of-the-art spa are all intimate places to spend time.
After a king’s breakfast at the Oligo Madeinterranean’s morning buffet, you can swap your nice clothes for a sports outfit. Whether you go kayaking, cycling or hiking, the hotel offers many activities for families in the surrounding unspoilt areas. At the end of the afternoon, head to the marina to watch the ballet of the boats with an ice cream in hand. To end the day, a last dive and a yoga session on the beach is a must.
Wonderful is the word that comes to mind when you walk through the doors of the 5-star hotel W Ibiza. This establishment is the epitome of luxury where guests are received like VIPs. Children will enjoy living for a few days in this ultra-chic setting that illustrates the successful marriage of traditional Mediterranean style and modern luxury.
In addition to a dream location close to the beaches and the famous bohemian market Las Dalias, this establishment puts your well-being in the spotlight in a soothing spa where the wonders of nature are transformed into delicate benefits. An aromatherapy menu invites you to take care of yourself and rediscover yourself through a holistic approach. Children are not to be outdone; the Games Room welcomes them every day to enjoy a variety of activities with youngsters of their own age.
You can reach Ibiza by plane as it’s located only 2h30 from Brussels and Paris. If you book in advance you will find cheap return flights from Paris, Zaventem or Charleroi. It is easy to rent a car to move around freely and enjoy the natural landscapes of the island far from the tourist spots. On the island of Formentera, you can rent a bicycle.
Ibiza knows how to charm travellers. Taken over by mass tourism, it is gradually reinventing itself and reappropriating its land to return to its original essence: that of an authentic, gentle and wild island, particularly suitable for family holidays.
Have a nice trip!
Audrey, 25 years old, travelling-addict journalist, from Brussels