If Columbus had been searching the world for the best place to party, he would surely have anchored on the island of Ibiza. Indeed, the island is notorious, not only for being the party capital of the world and for having a happening beach scene, but for its bountiful countryside dotted with groves of almonds, olives and figs. And when named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it wasn’t the night until dawn club scene that put historic Ibiza on the list, but rather its cultural and natural assets.
The third largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea, you can travel to Ibiza by plane, ferry or yacht. Gaze out at one of the island’s many marinas and you’ll likely see a luxury yacht unloading a fleet of limos for the stay of royalty or celebrities known to frequent the island such as P. Diddy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum.
Many a celebrity has fallen in love with the island, including Jade Jagger, who has made Ibiza her permanent home, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones who own a vacation home there.The island has a population of 80,000. The number of tourists who descend upon historic Ibiza is upwards of a million per year, so plan your stay accordingly. August tends to be hot, humid and crowded, so if you want to go during summer months, shoot for July or September.
Ibiza has five delegated municipalities – Eivissa, San Antoni, Santa Eulalia, Sant Josep and Sant Joan. If you’re all about the buzz of the big city, make Ibiza Town your base of operation. Stay at The Ocean Drive Hotel located in the Botafoc Marina. This upscale art deco hotel is within walking distance of the notorious nightclubs El Divino and Pacha. Soundproof walls and floors allow you to get shut-eye when neighboring visitors continue their revelry well into the next day. You’ll have great views of the yacht harbor and the medieval town of Dalt Vila, especially if you choose a lounge chair on the hotel’s sunroof in lieu of your bed.
On the outskirts of town is the infamous Pikes Hotel. This 15th-century finca has been host to such celebrities as Mick Jagger, Elton John and Eric Clapton. Each room and suite has its own unique style, whether decorated with Asian flair, or Moroccan mystique. All the rooms have air conditioning, fireplaces and Jacuzzis, too. Guests are regaled with fantastic views of the countryside’s rolling hills and the bay of San Antonio. Fine dining can be had at the hotel’s Plaza Mayor Restaurant, which serves Mediterranean fare created by Chef Francisco Javier Dominguez. A swimming pool and lighted tennis court are available to guests, and nearby beaches are easily accessible.
Off the beaten path is the Hotel Hacienda Na Xamena located near the port of San Miguel. This Relais & Chateaux property sits amidst a forest of pine trees atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the rooms and suites afford breathtaking views of cliffs plunging into pristine ocean.
The hotel has ensured no sunset is missed as even the rooms’ whirlpool bathtubs provide sweeping views. In addition, there are four restaurants offering a range of gourmet fare from Mediterranean, Asian, vegetarian and organic dishes. Guests can lounge by the pool or take treks arranged through the hotel to wilderness areas accessed by boat.
Knowing that your nights will be dedicated to partaking in Ibiza’s mythic party scene, don’t waste prime sunlight by sleeping. Allot time to explore Ibiza’s historic area, beaches and countryside. The oldest established area of the island is Eivissa, or Ibiza Town.
Perfect for exploring by foot is its cobblestone medieval section known as Dalt Vila. This walled landmark was built in the 16th-century to serve as a barrier from attacks via the bay. Its gateway is the majestic Portal ses Taules. To give visitors a taste of the Ibiza from days gone by, the town hall hosts a Medieval Party where townsfolk dress up in medieval costumes and participants can sample that time period’s culture and culinary fare. Inside the walls are sites such as the Eglesia de Santo Domingo, spotted by its telltale trio of red domes.
A 13-th century cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary is also a must-see and houses the Catalan Gothic Museo de la Sacrista with assorted works of art. Another museum of note is the Museu d’Art Contemporani that displays graphic art and exhibits of internationally renowned artists. For those who want to soak in the atmosphere, Ibiza Town is prime for people-watching. Join the area’s “café society” at the tiny little piazza of Plaza del Parco with its many quaint cafes.
If shopping’s your thing, the island’s extensive boutiques aren’t the only places for great finds. Check out the weekly Hippie Market held near Es Canar every Wednesday. There you’ll find batik fabrics, handmade jewelry and blown-glass items.
Spend a day driving around the island taking in its picturesque splendor. Along with small villages and lush countryside, you’ll glimpse Ibiza’s highest mountain, Sa Talaissa, beautiful beach coves such as Cala d’Hort with fantastic views of Es Vedra, a rock outcropping in the sea, and Ibiza’s historic salt flats, Ses Salines, providing the area’s salt for 2000 years as well as nesting area for birds, among them flamingo. Bask in the scenery over a golf game at the Club de Golf Ibiza’s 18-hole golf course, or get your blood pumping at the Hipodromo Sant Jordi’s horse races.
Historic Ibiza extends 355 square miles, 210 of which are coastline with prime white sand beaches where nudity is the norm. Catching rays isn’t the only agenda at these hot spots. Many are a scene in themselves with happening beach clubs such as the Jockey Club and Malibu Club. Almost all the beaches seek to meet all their visitors’ needs with great beachfront, open-air restaurants and bars. Take to the waves to enjoy many of Ibiza’s water sports, including waterskiing, jetskiing, sailing, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, SCUBA diving and parasailing.
Two outstanding beaches near Ibiza Town to visit are Las Salinas and Es Cavallet. If you prefer your sand less crowded, plan to go in the morning while partygoers are still sleeping, or spend time exploring the island’s 60 pine tree-lined coves for just the right spot. Visit the northern side of the island in Portinatx for wilder, unpopulated beaches. On the southeastern coast is Cala d’Hort, a small bay ideal for watching sunsets, particularly from the cliffs above it. A 30-minute boat ride will find you on the outstanding beaches on the nearby island of Formentera, making for the perfect daytrip.
Evenings are an event on Ibiza, beginning with dinner, which is generally served between 10 p.m. and midnight. The Mediterranean is known for its fine cuisine and historic Ibiza is no exception. In San Antonio dine at Sa Capella for Mediterranean dishes featuring seafood and steak. Located in a 16th-century chapel, the restaurant has plenty of ambiance. Shoot for a chair on their outdoor terrace to enjoy the stars. In Botafoch you’ll find great seafood dishes at La Raspa. Go international with venues like Le Closdenis in St. Raphael for French fare, Trattoria del Sol in San Jose for an Italian menu and Bambuddha Grove in Eivissa for Asian dishes.
After dinner, but before the clubs, the crowd moves to local bars. One worthy of investigation is KM5. So named as it’s five kilometers outside of Ibiza Town en route to San Jose, this Bedouin-style bar and restaurant intoxicates with visuals such as a bar within the chest of a wooden whale, a tented garden area that brings about thoughts of Arabian nights and an exhibit displaying works of international artists.
Still have time to kill before the clubs open at 2 a.m.? Head to Eivissa’s port and spend some time at the Casino de Ibiza’s blackjack table.
El Divino, Amnesia, Privilege, Pacha, Es Paradis, Space – the endless number of dance clubs on Ibiza are legendary. Club hopping is a must for those who love to party. The spectacles that await are many, from scantily clad dancers to theme nights.
On an island considered the world’s party capital, it’s only fitting the DJs are considered royalty. These kings and queens reign over nightclubs that have become industries in themselves. Case in point – Pacha. The first club to open on the island in 1973, Pacha now has a restaurant, hotel and record label in its name.
Also to visit is Privilege, a destination that holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s biggest bar. You’ll find up to 8,000 partygoers hitting the dance floor, or observing stage performances like Manumission.
You’ll want to end the evening at Amnesia. During its final hour, foam is dumped on the crowd, causing many to disrobe and keep on dancing. When the club closes at 7 a.m., it’s time to head back to the hotel to gear up for another day and start all over again.
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