Ibiza Cove. / ANDREW FORBES

Ibiza good times

It's time to hit the hotspots of the white island and have some much needed summer fun: it's the turn of the sociable south and east of the island

ANDREW FORBES

The travel trend for seeking out secluded destinations seems to be growing a pace following the pandemic; thanks to a desire to escape the crowds and find the authentic.

Yet if you are anything like me, after so long avoiding crowds and being obliged to keep a distance, I'm ready to have a laugh on my holidays, to reconnect with people, to socialise and to have fun!

Looking for authenticity? Well, when it comes to Ibiza what can be more genuine to white island life than hip hotels, sociable beach clubs and a lively soundtrack?

Safe choice

Ibiza presently looks to be a pretty safe bet for a summer break. With the accelerating vaccine roll-out, relaxation of the mask wearing rule outside, and the relative low level of contagion in the Balearic Islands (at the time of writing, Ibiza has recorded no new cases), it's a good time to take advantage of the good-value air fares connecting Malaga & Ibiza.

Some years ago, I wrote about Ibiza's charming 'agroturismo' farmstead B&Bs, country retreats and boutique hotels hidden amongst aromatic pine forests within the interior of the island. So now it's the turn of the sociable south and east of the island, all within easy access from the airport and Ibiza town.

Ibiza town

Eivissa capital epitomises the alluring mix of age-old island charm with contemporary, cosmopolitan Ibiza. Whilst approaching the island's airport, the skyline of the town becomes instantly recognisable thanks to the UNESCO Dalt Vila, the fortified old town. The ancient architecture gives a few clues that this was once one of the most strategic ports in the Mediterranean.

Now old town is a chic hub of restaurants, galleries and boutiques. It makes for an enjoyable morning stroll, taking in the centuries old cathedral, the castle and medieval city walls. Expect superb views over the town and the port.

The other side of the port, on Botafoc Marina one finds upscale hotels, like the Gran Hotel Ibiza, home to gourmet restaurants, Ibiza's casino and also Open Spa, probably the best wellness facility on the island.

Nightlife is also returning to this small, lively city, both at the beach clubs and at the hotels.

Talamanca bay, just north of Ibiza town, has the upscale Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, a popular choice for visitors that want that lively Balearic buzz of Ibiza, close to the vibrancy of town, yet within the quieter setting of a Mediterranean bay. Talamanca also retains plenty of typical, local Spanish restaurants.

Live DJs - Hard Rock Hot.

Playa d'en Bossa

For Balearic beats and an inclusive, friendly vibe, head for the island's most famous beach, Playa d'en Bossa. This year Ibiza won't quite be living up to its usual hedonistic reputation, since some of the biggest parties and concerts have been postponed until next year.

So, this year is the time to enjoy a lively, yet not so raucous Ibiza; the perfect time to hit Playa d'en Bossa. Running south from Ibiza Town, for around three kilometres, it's also the white island's longest beach.

Here are the family-friendly resorts like the Grand Palladium Hotels and iconic beach clubs including the party favourite Nassau Beach Club and the neighbouring relaxed Tanit Beach. Expect mornings to be mellow, perfect for a quiet swim or walk along the sands. From early afternoon the music will begin to spill out from the hotels and beach clubs.

The beauty of Playa d'en Bossa is its diversity. There's a feeling of openness that embraces people of all ages, from couples and families staying at the hip Hard Rock Hotel, the youngsters enjoying the beats at the uniquely styled Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, as well as the young at heart retirees staying in apartments that line the beach.

Barefoot south coast

If you want to stay close to town but find a more mellow Ibiza, then the south coast is for you. The protected landscapes and wild coast of the Ses Salines Natural Park, the southern tip of Ibiza that reaches out and almost touches Formentera, is the place for laid back, barefoot relaxation. At the heart of this area are the colourful UNESCO salt flats where Ibiza's 'white gold' is harvested.

This is the Ibiza of hidden coves and friendly, lively beach bars. Playa es Cavallet is of course where you'll find El Chiringuito Ibiza, probably one of the island's best known restaurants, (sister to El Chiringuito Marbella).

It's the place for posh bites like Marinated Seabass Tartare Bruschetta and King Crab and Prawn Salad. Stroll a little further down the coast, and such is the beauty of Ibiza's diversity, you'll find a beach popular with LGBTQ+ travellers and the Chiringay beach restaurant, serving seafood and salads in a relaxed inclusive environment.

Head across to the other side of the salt flats peninsula and that's where there are low key spots to enjoy Ibizan sunsets. Experimental Beach at Cap des Falcó is one of the best for cocktails on the island.

Casa Jondal on Jondal beach, ideal for quintessential beachside dining, with pared-back simple design and a standout menu from co-founder and chef Rafa Zafra.

Formentera. / ANDREW FORBES

Formentera beckons

Formentera is the smallest inhabited island of the Balearics and boasts quite extraordinary beaches and pristine waters. Surrounding the island are meadows of sea grass called Posidonia, which filter the water making it exceptionally clear. Accommodation options in summer on this little jewel can be limited, and expensive, but it's easy to enjoy the unique environment for the day. Regular fast ferries connect Ibiza town with Formentera's port. No need to have a car, as you can rent bicycles, scooters, or even small cars on arrival.

Then explore the magnificent beaches like Ses Illetes, which is evocative of the Caribbean or Maldives. In the southeast the protected coast of pine clad cliffs offers impressive hiking routes, especially near the Far de la Mola lighthouse.

Santa Eularia des Rui

This, the second largest town on Ibiza, brings together the hippy heritage of the island with modern day tourism.

The beaches and coastline here are impressive, with a mix of developed areas and picturesque, untouched coves.

On your way up from Ibiza town, enjoy the large beach at Cala Llonga. There's always something going on, and lots of activities for families too. If you're looking for a secluded spot for lunch, I particularly like Amante Ibiza, set among pines on a sandstone cliff overlooking a picture perfect cove. Modern Spanish and Italian dishes include mini burrata with deliciously refreshing tomato and cherry salmorejo; Iberian squid ink risotto with scallops; and salads including artisan Ibizan goats' cheese - all flavours of a Mediterranean summer.

Accommodation is a mix of rental apartments, family hotels and some flagship properties like the iconic W Ibiza Hotel.

Dining out is all about fish and seafood at the sophisticated, yet relaxed beach restaurants. This area is particularly family-friendly and a good choice if you looking to avoid the livelier beach clubs of Playa d'en Bossa.

Head inland just a little from Santa Eularia and you'll discover the trendy boho market of Las Dalias in San Carlos, fun for homemade crafts and hippy chic fashion.

The charming chapel overlooking the new resorts of Santa Eularia is worth a morning hike to see it and enjoy the views - you can always reward yourself with an afternoon cocktail on the stunning rooftop pool bar of W Ibiza - after all, this is your holiday.