Travel with our dear friend Marc Cave, our utmost favorite British travel writer who moonlights as the managing partner of Green Cave People to the other side of Ibiza, unspoiled, quiet and oh so very special. Discover the real spirit of the island along with his favorite beach bars and restaurants where the only adrenaline pumping you'll experience is your beating heart on the windy, curvy roads getting there. Our kind of party!
Many tequilas ago, I went to San Antonio for my last ever bachelor holiday. Apparently, little has changed in that part of Ibiza. The streets still come alive at night with the sound of retching. The beaches in the day are packed with line after line of sunburnt pink flesh, pressed tightly together like one giant ham hock terrine. But there's a whole different side to Ibiza. An oasis of simple, rustic, unvarnished Mediterranean nature, as it was before David Guetta, MDMA and tattooed necks came to town.
In the north and southwest of Ibiza, there is lovely countryside. Pine forests. Rugged coast. Shallow, velvety calm blue waters. Exciting seaside nooks hidden from view. And absolutely fantastic chiringuitos. Like Antigua, a car's the best way to try a different beach every day. The variety of bays, coves, and rock formations in which they nestle is truly spectacular. Many are as unspoilt as the day [insert your choice of almighty being or priapic woodland deity] created them.
All these beaches seem to have one thrilling trait in common: the last 10 minutes of your journey to reach them.
There is no coast road on this island. It is encircled by a mesmerizing ring of majestic cliffs and swooping precipices. It would be mad to build a road across them. Instead, to get to the beach snuggled at their foot, there's a very steep, very winding, very bumpy, very dangerous and very exhilarating dirt track. (Health warning: this may rule out any Americans because to negotiate this terrain, it's best to drive a manually geared car).
.Cala Xuclar to the north of the island. There were so many twists and turns that we felt like a piece of spaghetti getting there. The beach itself is no more than 20 metres wide. If you've made a reservation, you get a basic sunbed and a parasol which the woman will hammer into the ground at the spot of your choosing. The beach is semi sand/semi pebble and nothing special - but the water is as pure as the tears of Mediterranean mermaids. The rocky seabed makes it great for snorkeling. The same woman who erected your parasol is also your lunch host. In a tiny little chiringuito with a white cloth roof, she will serve you the best ceviche you ever had. Then an unbelievable whole fish. Maybe bream, John Dory or, as my Beloved One heartily recommends, the local and deliciously flavorsome Rojo. There is no other choice. In a bonkers world of excess, the edited simplicity of this place is scintillating. I don't think there is anything on earth as good as simplicity done well. (Apart from chopped liver. And wild sex). Wash it all down with a chilled Spanish white or better, the house speciality: a hugely refreshing Mojito Payès. Rather than rum, the base is the herby, aromatic Hierbas Ibicencas. A couple of those at lunchtime will make your drive back up the steep, mega-twisty dirt track especially interesting.
Very, very nearly as brilliant as Cala Xuclar is the chiringuito at Ses Boques. Another blood pumping drive down a steep dirt track. Another fabulous (though bigger menu) with the freshest fish, and lots more besides. Again, the beach and the first few steps into the sea are not exactly a manicured St Tropez-style experience. This beach has large pebbles and an epic and beautiful expanse of sea in front of you. But if you want real, natural, peaceful and authentic - without botox babes pissed up on Miraval, dancing to Drake on the tabletops - come and get it here.
Cala d'Hort. This one is in the south west of the island. It's bigger and more sandy and don't worry — it does have a nice, twisty, hair-raising ride to get to it. What makes this beach incredible is the huge, mysterious islet about a mile out to sea in front of you. This is Es Vedrà. It is massive, enigmatic and hypnotic, rising dramatically from the water to a height of 400 meters. Hippies in the 1960s claimed it to be the third most magnetic spot on earth after the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle. It has never been inhabited except by goats and, briefly in the 19th century, a monk hermit. Another good way to experience Es Vedra is to watch the sun go down over it. Ibiza does a better sunrise & sunset than Fiddler On the Roof. And this is reputedly one of the best. Have dinner at Es Boldado, and you will get an awe-inspiring view. It is tucked up in a cliff overlooking the Cala d'Hort bay, and again, the fish is delish.
I am only going to recommend where to stay in Ibiza if you promise not to tell anyone else. Well, certainly not anyone in America west of Tribeca or south of Dumbo. La Granja is a working farm overflowing with nature's bounty of fruits, vegetables, and scenty herbs. You stay in a lovingly restored 300-year old farmhouse or one of the outbuildings. There are about ten rooms in total. La Granja is a temple to agro-tourism, to small-batch, to the slow food movement, to time-worn wood and rough-hewn stone — to natural though utterly luxurious beauty. They hand-turn local timber to make their own bowls and platters. They serve bio wines and beers that actually taste marvelous. There is yoga. There is meditation. There is mindfulness. Personally, I was mindful of the beautiful waitresses. Everyone is super charming and chilled. As I floated in the lovely swimming pool and looked up through the trees, I couldn't have been further away from San Antonio if I tried.
La Granja is the absolute epicenter of what we loved about this lesser-known, completely natural side of Ibiza.
Unabashed, primal luxe.
*Green Cave People is a film development and production company. They look for projects that will make an impact creatively, socially and commercially. And that way, make a difference.