Many of you don’t know that I lived in Ibiza for a while, but my summer on the little island in the Mediterranean was actually was planted my wanderlust, the idea for a long-term trip and my love for Latin America (I worked and lived with Argentinians).
I only returned once after my summer on the island, and it was actually during that three-week trip that I discovered much more of the hidden Ibiza off the tourist paths than during my six months there. I am currently planning a long overdue trip to one of my favorite places in the world, which is why I thought it was time to share some interesting facts about one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.
It’s not (only) a party island
Over the past few years, every time I mentioned that I lived in Ibiza, people start talking about how they want to experience one of the epic parties there. The island is well known for its electronic music scene, its mega clubs that hold crowds of up to 10,000 people, the chill out sunset bars – Ibiza even made it into a J Lo song! And admittedly, I came for the parties as well, at least partially. But during my three-week visit a couple of years later, I didn’t go to a club once. Because Ibiza is so much more than a party island! There are only a handful of these mega clubs on the island, and the main DJ season only lasts from late June till mid-September. If you are looking for a tranquil island getaway, you can still have that during this time – simply stay outside of San Antonio or Playa d’en Bossa.
Many people don’t know this, but Ibiza has considerably pushed high-end tourism over the past five years. As much as the island loves the revenue that the clubbing crowd brings in, Ibiza is actually looking to attract a more sophisticated clientele, and be a year-round destination instead of depending on the club season. That’s why in 2007 a bill was introduced that every new hotel built had to be a five star property – the £30 a night cheapie package tourists aren’t what Ibiza is after. The yacht marina has been enlarged and modernized, expensive boutiques line the streets of Ibiza Town and fine dining establishments have been popping up increasingly over the past few years. Accommodation has changed from the large concrete hotels in Playa D’en Bossa to small boutique hotels and villa rentals have become more and more popular. Villas in Ibiza are more sought after than ever, for one thanks to the rich and famous that visit the island every year and have an entourage of friends, chefs and assistants with them, but also regular vacationers appreciate the amenities of a vacation villa: having your own kitchen, space for dinner parties, a private pool and several rooms so that people can have an exclusive getaway with their friends instead of staying in hotels.
UNESCO World Heritage
The island doesn’t only want to attract the rich and famous though, it is aiming at a clientele that appreciates its natural beauty and heritage, its pristine beaches and little calas – small bays with crystal clear water and pine tree fringed sand beaches. Ibiza doesn’t only have dozens of beautiful little beaches, but also a myriad of hiking trails, which add to the island’s attraction outside of the hot summer months. In 1999, UNESCO declared Ibiza’s Biodiversity and Culture a World Heritage site, recognizing its outstanding natural beauty and honored remarkable landmarks such as Dalt Vila, Ibiza Town’s Old City, the Posidonia of Ses Salines Natural Park, the Phoenician settlement of sa Caleta, and the cemetery of Puig des Molins. Ibiza is full of ancient sites dating back to the various groups of settlers who inhabited the island over the centuries, particularly the Phoenicians, who founded the first settlement on the island in 654BC. When visiting Ibiza, it definitely pays off to buy a well-researched travel guide that includes hidden beaches, hiking trails, maps and scenic drives. Amazon has a great selection of Ibiza travel guides.
Ibiza has its own language
Ibiza is part of the Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Together with its little sister island Formentera and the tiny nearby island S’Espalmador Ibiza forms the Pityusic Islands, the Pine Islands. While in all of the Balearic Islands Spanish and Catalan are spoken, the Pityusic Islands have their own dialect – Eivissenc. This is a dialect of Catalan and is, together with Spanish, the official language of Ibiza and Formentera.
Ibiza produces wine
This is a little-known fact about the island, but Ibiza is home to several small wineries. While the scale of the production is far too small to be considered an export product, it is possible to sample some of the island’s fine wines during a visit. The grapes that are grown in Ibiza are ganache and mourverdre (red wine) and Malvasia (white wine). Sant Mateu, Sant Josep and Buscatell are the villages where you find the vineyards and where you can try the wines that are known for their excellent quality among wine connoisseurs.
Ibiza feels like stepping back in time
What surprises most visitors is how rural and how simple life in Ibiza is outside the main tourist areas. It is hard to believe that less than a 90-minute drive from San Antonio, you find small villages that still live off agriculture and that don’t even have a big supermarket. Instead, you can shop in small village stores, watch people sit on benches in the main square or chat over a Clara (beer with Sprite) at the village bar and enjoy the tranquility and simplicity of a bygone era. This is another reason why villa rentals are so popular – nothing is more authentic than staying in the middle of an olive tree plantation, enjoying the views over the fields and cooking with fresh ingredients picked up from the local produce market. If you’re looking to get away from the busy tourist spots, I recommend renting a villa in San Agusti des Vedra, Santa Gertrudis, San Miguel, San Carlos or San Juan. In some of these villages, there are regular artisan markets and you can still experience traditional dances.