BEST BEACH CLUBS & BARS
Cala Jondal. This is the unofficial playground for the jetset, superyacht crowd...think St Tropez "55", Mykonos' Nammos, St Barths' Nikki Beach. I think it's a little past its prime, but it still draws top DJs spinning to a sparkler-happy, champagne-swilling crowd with some of the best people-watching on the island.
Ses Salines. An Ibiza institution since opening in 1993, this is my top pick for a long boozy lunch with great DJs, strong cocktails and yummy food overlooking clear turquoise waters with a fun-loving crowd. Early birds will be able to snag a sunlounger, otherwise reservations are recommended; the place empties out by 7pm.
Sa Trinxa Beach Bar
Ses Salines. A more rustic (and naked) alternative to the nearby Jockey Club, there's good music and a fun crowd hanging out at this venue.
Cala Jondal. The PERFECT spot to while away your hangover, it’s far enough away from the Yemanja/Blue Marlin party zone to properly recharge the batteries. Plenty of sun loungers for hire, a massage hut and a full menu to top up the reserves.
Playa den Bossa. One of the "new" beach clubs on the island (opened since 2011), this is more of a mega beach club (think Vegas meets Ibiza) than any before its time. It's an enormous space with open-air daytime, poolside clubbing straight through sunset until midnight, filled with dazzling lights, pyrotechnics, dancers etc. It hosts the biggest names and parties in electronic music (Fat Boy Slim, F*** Me I'm Famous, Avicii, Sasha's Never Say Never). When it shuts down at midnight, you can head into the luxury Ushuaia Tower, where the party goes on through the night.
Santa Eulalia. A new outpost of the famed global franchise, I haven't actually heard any reports from my friends on the ground, but all the celebrities and billionaires seem to love it.
CLUBS & LOUNGES
Ibiza Town. 12midnight-6am. www.pacha.com/ibizaThe island's most famous club has many areas to explore from the spacious roof terrace to the hip hop/R&B-heavy Global Room. Make sure to check out The Funky Room an enclosed temple to disco and funky house overlooking the main dance floor. Top tip: One way to avoid the Euro50 cover is to book a table for dinner The Restaurant & Sushi Lounge. Past legendary weekly parties have included Erick Morillo's Subliminal Sessions, David Guetta’s F*** Me I’m Famous and Pure Pacha.
Near the airport.
The (in)famous underground house venue has been most famous for its all-day Monday Circo Loco parties.
This over-the-top supper cabaret club is something everyone should experience at least once, if only for the grandeur of the space which has stunning views across the harbor towards the Old City. Dinner needs to be reserved and is pricy (upwards of $300/head), but it includes the show and some surprisingly decent food. You can also try your luck at the door and opt to come for just the cabaret which starts around around 1030/11pm. After midnight, you can linger on in the enclosed, interior club space until 4am.
Following a ravely-reviewed inaugural 2016 season, Heart Ibiza is back again with its unique offering of performance, art and food. It's a collaboration between Ferran and Albert Adria and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, which promises an evening of mind-blowing cuisine and unforgettable music.
At the Km5.6 mark on the highway from Eivissa to Sant Josep. This sprawling Bedouin-style open-air lounge and restaurant is a great spot every night of the week. Plenty of snug areas to pitch up to, there’s also a small indoor club that always has the potential to blow up, and an intimate gallery and clothing boutique for impulse buys. Excellent Mediterranean fare, especially the grilled steaks.
Hi Ibiza (formerly Space)
Playa den Bossa. Open 4pm-6am
Opening in summer 2017, Hi Ibiza has huge shoes to fill after taking over the beloved Space location.
San Rafael. Open 12midnight-6am. www.amnesia.es
The most popular mega club on the island, two enormous spaces boast the works - high tech light displays, foam parties, sexy podium dancers, huge sound system and the famed ice cannon - and feature some of the biggest DJs in the biz. Most popular nights have been Cream on Thursdays Wednesday’s La Troya.
Pretty subjective, really, but If you’re the uncrowded-powder-white-sand-beach-with-crystal-clear-turquoise-water kind of beachgoer, Ibiza will disappoint. For a proper slice of the Caribbean, Playa de Illetas on the nearby island of Formentera is your best bet, though even that can get pretty crowded in summer.
Instead, the beauty of Ibiza’s varied coastline is there’s something for everyone: on the one hand, intimate swimming spots with a little restaurant on hand for lazy afternoons of paella and rose (of which there are many in the southwest part of the island near San Jose: Cala Carbo, Cala Vadella, Cala d’Hort to name a few); on the other, non-stop party beaches with a gorgeous, fun-loving crowd grooving to Balearic beats.
Las Salinas/Ses Salines, near the airport
Named for the nearby salt pans, this is easily the most popular beach on the island for its wide swath of white sand, turquoise water and party scene. It does get crowded, but it’s well worth a visit to soak it all up, if only for lunch at the Jockey Club or drinks at the legendary Sa Trinxa beach bar.
The sprawling beach club (CBBC) here has something for everyone - from elegant sunbeds and tables under the pines to simple sun-drenched sunloungers for hire right at the waters edge. There are four restaurants to choose from and the kid-friendly beach (shallow with gentle surf) has pedaloes and other water toys for rent. It's a comfortable spot to spent the day, with plenty of showers and toilets to go around. Shoppers will love the large selection of boutiques selling all sorts of coverups, jewelry, crafts and accessories.
Cala Jondal, San Jose
The “beach” is comprised of large smooth stones but there are wood-planked walkways to access the water. The real draw is the easygoing and hip vibe with some of the best beach bars/restaurants on the island all in one place. Yemanja serves the best food (traditional Spanish), Blue Marlin right next door has the best all-day party vibe, (especially Sunday flamenco sessions) and Tropicana at the other end of the beach (2 minute drive) is the ideal “day after” spot. All of them have for-hire sun loungers and massage services.
Aguas Blancas/S'Aigua Blanca, San Carlos
One of the few unofficial nudist beaches on the island, there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out and get comfortable. Getting its name from the white caps stirred up by the summertime easterlies, the copper-coloured sand makes a gorgeous contrast with the intense aqua sea. At the north end of the beach, there’s a lovely open-air restaurant overlooking the water, but even better is El Chiringuito (slang for snack shack) at the south, more nudist, end of the beach. Thatched umbrellas, rustic benches and reggae are the perfect setting for caipirinhas and bocadillos.
NB: backed by steep cliffs, this east-facing beach will lose the sun by late afternoon.
Lunch at Juan y Andrea at Playa de Illetas, Formentera
Welcome to the most chi-chi, toes-in-the-sand, 4 hour lunch around! You’ll know you’ve arrived as you weave your way through the megayachts to get to a mooring before the restaurant’s dinghy whisks your party to shore (though it’s an easy swim too). If not arriving by charter, the ferry from Ibiza to Formentera takes around 30 minutes and you can hire mopeds/bikes/cars or take a taxi once on the other side. www.juanyandrea.com
Viewing Es Vedra
Perhaps the most iconic image of Ibiza, this dramatic limestone rock rising out of the sea to almost 400 meters in height is a spectacular sight at sunset. Believed to have spiritual powers (it’s said to be the 3rd most magnetic point on the planet), a hermit once lived there for several years but it is now uninhabited and part of a nature reserve. Best viewing spots: the beach and restaurants at Cala d’Hort, Torre des Cap des Jueu (pirate watch tower) or by boat.
Exploring the Old Town
The best time to explore the charming narrow, winding cobblestoned streets of the Old Town is in the evening when the air has cooled, the city walls are dramatically lit up, and the boutiques re-open after their afternoon siesta. There are plenty of big-name brands here, but try to keep an eye out for the local designs ranging from funky club wear to cool, white linen shirts and dresses. Restaurants can be a bit hit or miss but La Brasa is always a good bet. Warning: parking can be a nightmare.
Sundowner at Cafe del Mar
A "must" for any fan of the ubiquitous chill-out compilations, the Cafe itself is set along a rocky coastline, but the sunset views are unsurprisingly inspirational.
Nightly Club Parades at the Old Town Port
Get there early and grab a seat at Rock Bar (www.therockbaribiza.com) or next-door Base Bar (from Es Vive Hotel’s Jason Bull) to catch the wacky parade of costume-clad (and barely clad) performers and promoters making their way alongside the port en route to their respective clubs.
Sundowner at Cala Xuclar
This was a great local tip (thanks Rob!) we checked out on our last trip here. Beautiful, tranquil spot for a sundowner, the small beer shack should still be open half an hour before setting. It’s a steep road but there is parking right at the bottom.
Hike to Atlantis
Near Cala Vadella. It’s a tricky one to find (a true, well-kept secret), but this ex-stone quarry provides a dramatic setting for this isolated swimming spot with beautiful, clear water and interesting rock formations and carvings. A hippie favourite, it’s a very steep (and hot) hike to get in and out, so avoid the mid-day sun or, better yet, come by boat! Tip: you can see it from the Torre des Cap des Jueu (pirate watch tower).
The Hippy Markets
There are hippy markets around the island at various points in the week, but the two most popular are both in the northern part of the island: Wednesday at Club Punta Arabí in near Es Cana (10am-6pm), and Saturday in Las Dalias near San Carlos (10am-8pm, www.lasdalias.com). Expect hundreds of stalls selling clothing, jewelry, exotic gifts and other knick knacks.
WHERE TO STAY
Location, location! Ibiza is not a small island, and roads are very windy and narrow. So if you don't want to spend half your days driving from one place to the next, make sure you plan your accommodation accordingly. That's why we love to stay near San Jose, because it's near enough to all of our favorite beach clubs and seafood restaurants. If you want peace and quiet, head inland or to the north.
For weekly villa rentals and concierge services:
Excellent Kiwi-owned company with a fantastic portfolio of high-end properties and among the best local knowledge and staff around. They can organize anything from private chefs and babysitters to that perfect VIP table at Pacha.
For shorter stays:
Hacienda Na Xamena
San Miguel. The perfect spot to get away from the crowds, this gorgeous property on the north coast of the island features top-class accommodation, service, Thalassotherapy and spa, and several wining and dining options. Rates upon request.
Carreterra Sant Joan KM 15. This lovingly refurbished, century-old finca boasts 10 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens with luxurious rooms (suites with private plunge pool), a comprehensive spa facility and pool, and an al fresco lounge and top-class restaurant.
Our discerning British/Spanish friends have been coming here for years with a group, and rave about it. It's an intimate, countryside finca with lovely gardens and pool, and very personalized service. If you're looking for a tranquil place to recover from your nightly escapades, this could well be it.
This high-end boutique hotel is a little off the beaten track (15-20 minutes drive into the countryside from the Old Town), but it is consistently recommended by all the top guides to Ibiza.
With only 4 guest rooms, this is a great boutique hotel to book up for a group of friends. The owners are terrific hosts, know the island extremely well, and the rooms and outdoor areas, including a fantastic pool, are incredibly chic. It's a short 10 minute drive inland from the Old Town. Only drawback for some might be the lack of food availability around the clock (for those late night/early snacks).
Hotel Mirador de Dalt Vila
Ibiza Old Town. Built in 1905, this colonial building set within the walled UNESCO World Heritage Dalt Vila area, features old city, port and sea views and highly personalized service. Something for the older crowd :)
Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay - opening June 30, 2017
Talamanca. The most anticipated hotel opening on the island in recent memory, this property aims to bring luxury resort-style accommodation to the otherwise cheap and cheerful Talamanca Bay.
Hard Rock Ibiza
Playa den Bossa. It's reputation precedes itself, but you can't beat the location if you're hitting all the beaches and club in the bustling southeastern slice of the island. Friends who have typically stayed in a villa for the week, were really surprised at how great this option was for a shorter stay. Many rooms have views down the beach, it's clean and tidy and has a plentiful buffet breakfast and great poolside service.
Santa Eulalia. From the team behind Pacha, this hotel is perched on the cliffs of Cap Martinet, and features a large oasis-like pool, a wide variety of accommodation to suit a range of clientele, wellness and spa programs, as well as eccentric nightly entertainment. The hugely popular Sunday day-into-night party Rumours (Guy Gerber), is back again for summer 2017. Only drawback is its a bit of a drive from the clubbing epicentre of Playa den Bossa.
Hotel Es Vive
Near Ibiza Old Town. A slice of South Beach, Jason Bull’s (Base Bar) Art Deco-style hotel features funky, retro-designed rooms with all the mod cons (flat screen satellite TV, AC, WiFi) with a large pool and buffet breakfast.
Ibiza Gran Hotel
Ibiza Old Town. Clean and modern-looking rooms in a central location, near the ports and the Ibiza town nightlife.
San Jose/Sant Josep. Away from the action, this laid back apartment/hotel with large pool and spectacular views of Es Vedra is an ideal spot from which to explore the south west beaches.
A terrific resource for up-to-the-minute reviews on the more upscale, trendy restaurant, bars and club nights from a long-time Ibiza resident and her local team.
Another good website for general information, a particularly good feature is the custom clubbing calendar you can print off so you’ve got all the parties and venues in one place for the duration of your stay.
Yet another site with great practical information.
Stay & Play: Ibiza and Formentera
Juan y Andrea, Playa Illetas, Formentera
Sundays at Blue Marlin, Cala Jondal
Mojito, Jockey Club, Ses Salines
Aguas Blancas, San Carlos. Gorgeous golden beach in the northeast of the island
El Chiringuito, Aguas Blancas. A great spot for a beer, but bring a wrap as it loses the sun well before sunset.
Cala Xuclar. A perfect sunset, without the Benirras crowds.
View of secluded bay on the way to Atlantis
Limestone carvings at Atlantis
Sunset and Es Vedra, coming back from Formentera
Chilling out at Tropicana
Cala d'Hort, where we picked up the trimaran to sail to Formentera.