Mention Ibiza and most people think of stag do’s and clubbing until dawn. Whilst this is the case in certain parts of the island (hello San Antonio), dig a bit deeper and a more cultural, gastronomic Ibiza reveals itself. These renewed tourism efforts have been in full swing around the island for some time now and are attracting a more mature crowd. This change in direction is also mirrored in the push by local authorities to upgrade hotels to offer more quality accommodation.
Situated 30 minutes from the airport north of Playa d’en Bossa is Santa Eulalia, one of the largest resorts on the island and at the heart of this tourist drive. Santa Eulalia is one of five Ibizan municipalities whose boundaries were decided centuries ago during the fight for control of the island, and which are still recognised to this day.
So what does this part of the White Isle have to offer the non-millennial visitor? We look at how to do Ibiza when the lure of all-night raves has faded, and a more relaxing holiday vibe is on the agenda.
Find a good base
There are some amazing places to stay in Santa Eulalia. Aguas de Ibiza Hotel is one such establishment. A boutique five star hotel and one of only two Ibizan hotels that is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Aguas is located a few minutes walk from the Marina. The feng-shui inspired sea view rooms are perfect for spending time watching the boats come and go whilst deciding where to eat that evening. Alternatively, you can easily wile away the day around one of the three swimming pools and relax after a meal in the gourmet restaurant prepared by renowned chef, Sergi Arola.
The Aguas has well-appointed rooms (Molton Brown in the bathroom), a fantastic all-day menu and a rooftop bar. Ask nicely and they can also organise rooftop yoga; for the less active the Spa is on the ground floor.
Standard double rooms at Aguas de Ibiza start from €154 per night based on two sharing a standard double and including breakfast.
For those that prefer a more rural environment, consider the recently-opened Agrotourismo Can Toni Xumeu. Built in 1859, it has been lovingly restored and now offers one or two bedroomed apartments. Relaxing by the pool and admiring the views over the local countryside full of olive and almond trees is the epitomy of relaxation. Feeling more energetic? Then the hotel can organise activities ranging from a boat charter to personal training, and Cala Llonga Beach is a 5 minute drive away from the property. Prices start from £282 b&b for a one bed apartment.
A few miles away lies one of Ibiza’s more bohemian villages, San Carlos, and the base for the Can Curreu Hotel. An authentic rural boutique hotel set in fertile, sprawling grounds, it is the perfect get-away-from-it-all location. Originally built in 1859, the array of facilities on offer means it’s sorely tempting for visitors to not leave the hotel, which would be a shame given what’s on offer locally (hippy market, beaches, countryside). But the lure of the renowned spa with its treatment area, waterfalls and heated indoor pool may well prove irresistible. The well-established restaurant is also popular with both guests and locals and the menu includes the sublime five course tasting menu. When one of the courses is beef tenderloin with Café de Paris sauce, rosemary potatoes and grilled peppers, you know you are in for a gastronomic treat. Prices start from €195 b&b for two people.
Food glorious food.
There is a quiet undercurrent of gastronomic expertise in this part of Ibiza with many hotels serving up food that matches their high standard of accommodation.
Part of the same group as the Can Carreu is the Estel Restaurant, next to the Marina Santa Eulalia. Established earlier this year, the concept is to combine traditional and contemporary gastronomy. This results in dishes such as salted sea bass with baked potato and sautéed vegetables, homemade fois gras with apricot compote and the exquisite grilled scallops with banana cream. Booze-wise, choose a cocktail or one of their many wines; the waiting staff can assist if you can’t decide.
Cas Pagès is a traditional Ibizan restaurant that is part of the region’s traditional culinary guide. Established in the 1970’s, it unashamedly focuses on meat – and lots of it. Cooked in a wood oven, the menu’s mixed grill would defeat most people. Big food indeed.. and the big flavours in the dishes urge you to finish what are the largest portions this side of Man vs Food. For dessert, the homemade puddings are tempting, and the staff are in no rush so take time to reboot before continuing the culinary journey.
Dining al fresco and with views over to Cala Nova beach is the Restaurant Atzaró Beach, a beach club which serves fresh, locally sourced seasonal food. The aqua-blue and white décor match the surrounding crystal waters and provide the perfect lunchtime spot. The sea bass ceviche with prawns, mango, and grapefruit accompanied by sweet potato chips comes highly recommended. It’s perfect spot to take a dip before you settle down for lunch.. but don’t be surprised to spot the odd naturist enjoying the water as well.
Whatever your age, a visit to the beach is a must in Ibiza. Here are a few of the options:
Playa de Santa Eulalia – a sandy beach that offers a safe spot to swim, bathe or learn to sail. Accessible on foot from the town means car hire isn’t needed.
Cala Nova – 5km from Santa Eulalia and next to the above-mentioned Restaurant Atzaró Beach. The light-coloured sandy beach has a shallow bay and is perfect for a dip.
Es Canar – 5km from Santa Eulalia. Reachable by car or by ferry from Santa Eularia. The beach has white sand and calm waters.
Cala Olivera – a small, secluded quiet cove 45 minutes from Santa
Eularia. The drive to the cove may be off the beaten track but well worth it.
Have a swim and relax with a drink or snack at the traditional Chiringuito (Beach-bar).
Canal d’en Martí – a natural harbour full of fisherman’s huts, in a remote and picturesque setting. There is a beach bar and restaurants located en route if refuelling is necessary. Fun fact: this is the location of a Roman-era purple production factory; the dye was extracted from local snails.
Santa Eulalia harbour – perfect for taking a stroll along the harbour and stopping at one of the many bars to soak up the atmosphere and watch the sunset.
San Carlos village – wander around the village and stop off at Bar Anita which is claimed to be the birthplace of the hippy movement. It’s still there and serving food and drink. The letterboxes pay homage to the bars previous incarnation as a post office. Legend has it that the hippies from well-off families would wait for their post bearing money to fund their lifestyle.
The Hippy Market – the famous Las Dalias Hippy Market is open on Saturday’s only. The stalls sell handmade items, vintage clothes and jewellery. Take out cash before you go as the one cash machine outside gets very busy.
Puig de Missa – visit the stunning 16th Century architecture of the Lady of Jesus Church at the summit of the Puig de Misa. Go to the top and take in the panoramic view of Santa Eulalia, San Carlos and the Cala Llonga bay.Walk down from the Puig de Misa and follow the Santa Eularia river for arelaxing pre-dinner stroll.
The Torre de Campanitx (Watchtower) – visit the coastal defence tower, also known as the Torre d’en Valls, built during the second half of the 18th century and admire the views.
Guided walking tour exploring the Ibiza countryside – discover the Atzaró area and the Morna valley, with towers and fountains. The walk is free of charge and places limited to around 15-20. Confirm attendance at the Tourist Information Office of Santa Eulalia del Río (+34 971 33 07 28 or mail for information at email@example.com
For more information on Santa Eulalia visit http://visitsantaeulalia.com/en/
Get me there:
Return flights with BA from London City to Ibiza start from £208 (including seat selection, taxes and charges)
Return flights with BA from London Gatwick to Ibiza start from £115 (including seat selection, taxes and charges).