A chilled Ibiza holiday probably seems like a bit of a contradiction in terms; Ibiza is known for its partying ways with people flocking from across the globe to have the time of their lives. But there is so much more to this beautiful isle, I can assure you it can offer you the time of your life, but through its sheer beauty rather than its hardcore raves.
I returned from Ibiza a little under a week ago, and although my tan is already fading, the memories of a beautiful holiday (I would brashly and confidently call it the best ever) are almost certainly going to remain for a very long time. So many of the places we visited left me awestruck with its beauty; there is beautiful beaches, clear blue sea, lush green forests and rugged rock edges, it was truly scenic.
We saw so many beautiful places and did some awesome things, so I wanted to share some of my experiences with you all in the hope it will encourage you to visit the beautiful Balearic island for a chilled get away… It might be a long read but I make no apologies for that because it is just a sign of how much there is to see, and I am sure we have only just scratched the surface so feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments box below too.
where to stay
San Antonio is perhaps the most well known area in Ibiza, and actually it was the only place that I visited that I didn’t like. Unsurprisingly really as it certainly is not what the chilled Ibizan vibe is about for me. If you are looking for a more laid back affair, I would wholeheartedly recommend staying somewhere like Es Canar, Santa Eulària (or Santa Eulalia) or Ibiza Old Town (Eivissa), each with its own varying degrees of vibrancy.
Es Canar was our chosen destination for our Ibiza getaway, chosen on the advice of our Thomson’s travel agent and based on a brief that we were looking for a quieter corner of the island. It is a very family orientated sunny seaside town (though our hotel was adults only).
It has a relaxed vibe with a beautiful beach and coastline, and lots of water sports to be had. There is a number of bars and restaurants, similar to those you would find in many european seaside resorts, but there were also many hidden gems that really stand out from the crowd (which I will tell you about below).
We stayed at the Hotel Panorama on half board through Thomson. We chose it based on the standard of the communal areas – the pool was huge with a bar in the centre (which definitely swayed the boy) and the restaurant and lobby areas looked clean and modern.
It didn’t disappoint in person, although as with many half and full board hotels the restaurant did have a slight canteen feel about it…but we soon got around that by spending all but one of our meals there in the outside section of the restaurant with a fantastic view of the beach.
The bedrooms were pretty basic, which we knew before we arrived, but traded it off against the fact that we wouldn’t be spending much time there. I would definitely recommend the hotel as a great base to explore the island from.
Santa Eularia is much more cosmoplitan, vibrant and buzzy. It still hits the chilled vibe, but has slightly more on offer for those that want to experience a chic nightlife. It was in fact my favourite place on the island (a tough call indeed), I even proclaimed that if I was going to move to Ibiza this is where I would hang my hat. It was just so picturesque and had a wonderful warm vibe about it.
There are so many places to eat and drink here that if you wanted to stay here it would be the perfect place to get yourself an Air BnB apartment or house so that you could explore every single night.
We actually stayed for one night only, due to maintenance work that needed to be carried out on our room at the Panorama. It’s a bit of a long story, which this post isn’t really about, and whilst we were initially annoyed about this, there wasn’t a lot we could do we agreed to be moved rather than ruin our holiday getting wound up about it. As I said, we had a few complications with Thomson and weren’t entirely happy with their treatment of us for a number of reasons, but we could not fault the hotel and the staff where we were sent, Hotel Catalonia Ses Estaques in Santa Eularia.
We were lucky enough to be treated to the best room in the house with an epic sea view, visible from the comfort of your plush king size bed. There was even a sea view from the shower! It was incredible. I would highly, highly recommend it. It would be perfect for a special celebratory holiday or honeymoon (in fact there were a few honeymooners in the hotel).
Just next to the hotel is a spa which offers massages, facials, manicures etc. And the chance to relax on the rocky sea edge with spectacular views. Even if you don’t visit the spa you can actually wander up the rocks edge to get some of the best views in the town.
We didn’t actually stay here, but I thought it was worth a mention because we visited the old town part of Ibiza Town a couple of times and felt that it was the perfect place where chilled met party on the island.
The capital of the island, it is full of rich heritage and cultural sights – you can scale the old town walls the the cathedral where you are greeted with more stunning views.
But at night the town comes alive with lots of restaurants and bars and party goers lining the streets. It is a step up from the chilled holiday that you might be looking for, but if you want a good half way house I think this could be it. And of course, if you get a taste for the night life you are not far from Pacha, which although I haven’t visited, is a favourite amongst some of my Ibiza partying friends.
Wherever you stay as a bit of a word to the wise – if you are staying in a hotel with half or full board, make sure you check the dress code before you travel. Both of the hotels we stayed in had a smart dress code for at least one night of the week which required men to wear long trousers. The boy hadn’t packed any (due to the scorching temperatures forecast) so it meant that we had to eat out on these nights – which for me was a blessing because we discovered some fantastic places, but beware so that you don’t get caught out.
places to eat
This is not a huge comprehensive list as we only ate out for our lunches and a handful of evening meals, but we were very lucky with some of our selections and the following come highly recommended:
This was one of our favourites, it was certainly the best place to go in Es Canar and we found ourselves having lunch here several times, as well as dinner and soaking up the evening entertainment with a few cocktails.
The Jacaranda Lounge is a Beach Lounge by day, serving food and drinks, and bar / entertainment centre by night. It has a slight feel of Nikki Beach about it, but without the pretension. The food was delicious and ranged from a variety of international delights to local flavours. There was even sushi on the menu! We can highly recommend the burgers, steak and satay chicken.
They also happened to serve the best frozen Strawberry Daiquiri that I have ever tasted in my life. It tasted like strawberry jam in a drink.
In the evenings the Jacaranda Lounge particularly came alive. We went to two of the shows, one of which included an epic demonstration of fly boarding in a pool. If you have ever seen it you know how incredible that is, and how wet we will have got sitting at the pools edge, but seeing someone rise 20 metres in the air as the result of water powered boots is pretty darn cool.
We also saw a great fire show that dazzled and wowed the crowd, again from the comfort of our poolside beds. If you are in Es Canar, or close by, you simply have to go here – for the food, the drinks and the fun.
Kalissol in Santa Eularia had an absolutely huge menu, but included some delicious authentic spanish dishes. I had a fish stew and the boy indulged in a meat paella…and of course we couldn’t resist some tapas on the side.
It was a thoroughly delicious lunch with a stunning fountain view.
Mezzanotte in Santa Eularia was our chosen destination for dinner, we ate in a beautiful courtyard area with stunning cascading flowers. It served great Italian food, something which seemed to be a bit of an obsession in Ibiza, but I suppose we could be accused of the same by tourists visiting the UK.
The menu was a little more expensive than some of our previous haunts, but as it was the last night we threw caution to the wind. I even treated myself to a lobster linguine which was thoroughly delicious.
Cafe del Mar
Although the food here was quite expensive, it is worth a mention because it really was the one redeeming feature of our trip to San Antonio. The sunset stip is busy but Cafe del Mar had a wonderfully chilled vibe – we sat outside, but the interior is worth a look too because it is totally exquisite.
The food was tasty, but ended up working out to be quite pricy as it is not particularly plentiful! So whilst we were satisfied with its tastiness, we were also pleased we had a big lunch that day.
things to do
Hire a car
We hired a car from Europa before we left so that we had four days of guaranteed island exploring. It allowed us to see some of the best beaches and sights on the island so we would highly recommend doing the same, even if just for a day or two to get a better view of the whole island.
Sunset on sunset strip
This was our sole reason for going to San Antonio (and Cafe del Mar) because we heard that an Ibizan sunset is the amongst the best in the world. Sadly, we were there on a misty night and didn’t get to see the full sunset, but I would still say it is thoroughly worth the experience, and hopefully you will get luckier than we did!
Punta Arabi Hippy Market
A renowned and authentic hippy market selling typical Ibizan gifts and crafts. It is entirely covered with a cloth canopy and winds in and out of the Punta Arabi streets… you feel like you could get lost in this wonderful fayre, but it is well worth the effort just for the experience.
One of the most awe inspiring trips we made, Es Vedra is a small rocky island off the south coast of Ibiza. It is the source of many myths and legends, and certainly has a mythical feeling to it. Viewing spots are down dusty tracks, but if you venture down you will be treated to a stunning and magical sight that will stay with you for a long time.
Catamaran Tour to Espalmador
We have both agreed this is one of our favourite things of the whole holiday, a great testament because it is in spite of getting stung by a jelly fish on my part (which actually only felt like a bee sting despite my initial whimpering).
The Catamaran tour was organised by Thomson, but you can get others from island vendors. Make sure that you choose a tour that includes Espalmador because it is truly the most beautiful place I have ever been. A private island that does allow some vendors to moor near its coast and experience the white sandy beaches and crystal waters. It was supremely stunning, perfectly peaceful and certainly the place of dreams.
Our cruise also included all inclusive drinks (imagine sipping cava in paradise, wonderful), an onboard BBQ lunch and swimming off the coast of Formentera (Ibiza’s sister island and a place we didn’t visit, but certainly would next time). It was utter perfection… jelly fish sting, or no jelly fish sting.
Our friends Dani and Waverley visited Ibiza a few weeks before us, and to mark Dani’s birthday, Waverley treated her to a spa trip. The resulting photos encouraged us that we had to follow suit, and boy am I glad we did.
The Hotel Hacienda Na Xamena offers a pool experience with a view, where you spend 45 minutes moving from jacuzzi style pools of different temperatures (including an infinity pool) with a view stretching across the bay. The most relaxing experience ever! We followed our trip with lunch which was a true treat for the taste buds with a three course extravaganza (if not a little fishy for the boy’s taste).
This is the ultimate in a chilled Ibiza experience and a total must!
We timed our trip perfectly, as unbeknownst to us we were in town for the annual fiesta celebrating the Patron Saint’s day of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves of the cathedral in Ibiza Town.
This was accompanied by the most incredible fireworks display which we viewed from the old town walls (along with a whole host of very plush yachts in the marina). Check out the fiesta calendar to see if you are going at a festival time, because Ibizan fireworks are certainly not to be missed.
I’ve already mentioned that Espalmador was the most beautiful beach we saw, but there were some other gems too that are well worth exploring…
A beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and a view of Es Vedra, another favourite from my trip. It was quite busy when we went but still absolutely idyllic.
San Miguel Port
Situated on the North Coast of the island, San Miguel port is a small but perfectly formed resort with a pretty beach that is perfect for relaxing in the sun.
Apparently a favourite beach amongst local residents, this stretch of beach was busy when we went but vibrant. A steep climb down to the beach, we were met by a long stretch of warm sand filled only with a couple of wooden shacks where you could get food and drink.
There was a large rock at swimming distance from the beach, which was great fun to jump off (once I had got over the fear…).
A really pretty beach, with some beachside cafes close by for refreshments. The sea is quite shallow and good for a bit of snorkelling!
We stopped at one of the small beach coves within Portinatx which was really calm and relaxed, and equally as stunning as its other Ibizan beach counterparts.
And if you don’t choose to stay there, the Santa Eularia beach is well worth a visit too with several different pockets of beach stretched along a beautiful coast line.
package holiday vs going it alone
I have already mentioned to you that we holidayed with Thomson and that was both a plus and a minus. I would say that some of the trips we went on, the catamaran trip in particular, we might not have done without the bonus of a package deal. The reps out there were great, enthusiastic and there was lots of entertainment that you could dip in and out of (though it does air on the cheesy side so might not be everyone’s thing), but we did have some frustrations with the company that I won’t air in detail here…so I think in future we would be tempted to go it alone and put together our own holiday.
If you choose to do this I would definitely recommend speaking to anyone you know that has been to the place you are visiting, we picked up loads of great tips from regular Ibiza goers, that we might not otherwise have thought about.
We found 10 days was the optimum time to really be able to explore the island but also squeeze in some much needed relaxing time.
Airport assisted parking really did make our arrival at the airport much less stressful and left us with more time to check-in and get ready for our flight. Check with your travel agents if they have any deals on because ours only cost around £80 , which is not too much more than some airport parking.
If you do want to step your holiday up a gear and have a night away from the chill, there is a disco bus that goes around the main resorts and to the main clubs.
If you are an Ibiza addict, please do add your thoughts and recommendations in the comments box!
Hotel Panorama // Hotel Catalonia Ses Estaques in Santa Eularia // The Jacaranda Lounge // Kalissol restauran in Santa Eularia // Mezzanotte in Santa Eularia // Cafe del Mar // Hippy Market // Hotel Hacienda Na Xamena // Fiesta Calendar