Maybe I’m old.
But I didn’t see the appeal of flying to the stunning Balearic Islands to jump around with glow sticks.
Been there. Done That.
Instead, our first trip to Ibiza was marked by what the kids used to call “chillaxing.”
Do they even say that anymore?
We flew in through the massive Madrid airport and spent 24 hours in the capital.
I don’t mean to take sides in one of Spain’s most iconic rivalries, but I like Barcelona.
Don’t get me wrong, Madrid is nice enough. But I found it a tad sterile. Perhaps, I’m biased because my Latin American side is still salty about La Conquista.
The breathtaking archipelago in the western Mediterranean instantly made me forget about any historical grudge, though.
Located 50 to 190 miles east of the Spanish mainland, it includes two major groups of islands: Mallorca and Minorca to the east, and Ibiza and Formentera to the west.
Since ancient times, their strategic position has made them vulnerable to invasions, especially from civilizations from the Far East like Byzantines and Muslims.
The Reconquista brought them back to Spain’s bosom, except for a partial British occupation in the 1700s.
Pirate raids were a problem until the 19th century when a budding tourism industry encouraged settlement.
The first sign we weren’t in your party monster friend’s Ibiza was La Granja. This hotel/farm is a quiet oasis.
Located in Sant Antony de Portmany, 14 miles from the Ibiza center, this “monastically chic” hideout of only nine bedrooms encourages a shared experience.
They serve the meals at a communal table. If you’re planning on joining for dinner, by midday, you tell the chef which, from the just-harvested ingredients, you wish to enjoy. Daily sunset pool parties with a DJ will have you dancing until the stars appear.
Suppose you want to take a break from exploring the island’s idyllic calas (coves) but also don’t feel like spending your day by the pool sipping cocktails.
In that case, La Granja offers daily “rituals” to explore the farm’s journey, from witnessing crop harvests to workshops about biodynamic agriculture.
I know what you’re thinking by now: I can get used to this. But, as tempting as it sounds, you have to get out of your butt and explore the island. And that’s precisely what we did on Day 2.
We drove about 5 miles northwest to the coastal village of Sant Josep de sa Talaia to enjoy calas Codolar and Comte.
The beaches are located at 10 to 15-minute walks from the main road, through a stiff rock climb. But it’s all more than worthy.
Make sure you bring sneakers or crocs, as it’d be easier to complete the path than if you wore flip flops.
Another magical experience is visiting the sister island Formentera, 14 miles to the south.
Accessible via ferry or rental boat, the latter will give you the chance to enjoy paddle boarding or snorkeling in the unbelievable Balearic Sea.
We departed mid-morning from the Sant Josep marina. After a few dips in the crystal clear warm waters, we had worked up an appetite to enjoy lunch in one of the Formentera beach restaurants.
The chiringuitos have little boats that pick you up by your anchored vessel. We decided to swim, which took us about 20 minutes.
You won’t find better fish and seafood anywhere else, I promise.
Mediterranean cuisine comes together in all its splendor in any of these places. Being fresh off the turquoise waters only enhances the experience.
Witnessing the server expertly
filet the fish in front of our eyes on the table was one of the most satisfying parts of the experience.
After such a feast, I was definitely not swimming back to the boat. Send the water taxi!
With our bellies full, we returned to Claudio, our captain, who was originally from Argentina and had moved to the Balearics five years ago.
Welcoming a chance to use my Spanish, and since the rest of my party was in a food coma, my inner journalist came out, and I continued interviewing Claudio.
He told me that when visitors from America and other parts of Europe dried up in the low tourist season, he and other boat people volunteered to rescue North African refugees adrift in the open sea.
As the sun came down over this sea that had just given us so many memorable experiences, it wasn’t hard to imagine how the same place might feel hopeless for those less fortunate.