My husband and I first fell in love with this island back in 2007 when we were visiting some friends that had moved there. Our first thought of going to Ibiza was the clubs, drunk Brits and people dancing on the beach with their arms in the air, don’t get me wrong we have always loved good music, but to be honest when we first came to Ibiza dance music was way down my list of musical genres. But there is something about Ibiza that just converts you! By Sunday even our ‘hard out’ Rock friend was seen dancing to the beats on bora-bora beach. but we were hoping to find more from this Mediterranean island. As we began to explore the island by day I wanted to wake up every club goer to let them know what they were missing,the incredible beaches, fabulous food and breath taking scenery, all set within this amazing vibe and energy the island had.
The first time we came we did as much exploring as we could with limited transport. As a couple who don’t like to just lay around the pool all day we decided to hire a scooter. Ipod in our ears, house music on, we discovered the island for ourselves. The island is small so beach hopping and getting to see a lot in one day was very doable. It was our second holiday to ibiza we realised that we were only scratching the surface on what Ibiza had to offer. That’s when we knew we had to come back. That everything you could ever want in a holiday was on this perfectly formed white Isle.
In September 2011 our first child was born and we started planning her first vacation for the following summer, when researching all the resorts throughout Europe nothing seemed to compete with what was on offer on our favourite little island, so it was decided, her first birthday would be celebrated on the white Isle of ibiza. We weren’t sure how family friendly the island would be but we realised that with my Latin roots and the culture and atmosphere that the Spanish seem to adopt, our family would be right at home. The restaurants always welcome children, it’s not like England where you get judged for taking your kids out after 8pm, it’s embraced out there, in fact people are shocked to not see the children running around, enjoying themselves.
We took her to the world famous cafe Mambo in San Antonio to watch the legendary sunset, we spent a day in the pool at Ocean Beach club, we walked through the streets of the old town, swam in the bluest sea and built sandcastles. We wanted her to see culture, life and fun. To experience everything with us. Ever since that first trip with her, she’s felt like the queen of the island and it’s something that will always be with her.
We have been finding new places as a couple and now as family for 7 years and have taken it upon our selves to change the reputation Ibiza has, to expose some of the hidden gems it has to offer.
Here’s a few of the places we love to visit and our ‘must dos’ when coming to ibiza.
Before we land we draft up an itinary for our holiday to ensure we make the most of our time
Our favorite area to stay is Santa Gertrudis. It’s a quaint little village in the centre of the island, it has a great square with a beautiful little white church, great restaurants, boutique shops, gallery’s and a fabulous little supermarket called Sumo. It has a fantastic bakery next door where we always pop in for our daily essentials.
It seems as though this village has become a bit of a hot spot with the celebs, there often seen in the cafes or juice bars, in fact we waved Mick Jagger through in his green beetle at a junction one time.
Ibiza is fantastic for beach hopping . We love to keep changing the scenery, you can find anything from small secluded coves to long sandy beaches. Our favourite beach is Cala Comte on the west coast about 15 minutes from San Antonio, the water here is crystal clear which makes it very popular in high season, it has a brilliant bar with the most amazing views called Ashram Sunset bar, head there and you can listen to some great music and indulge in a spot of people watching. They also have a great menu and sushi bar.
If you want to find a quieter spot then follow the waters edge to the right and keep going until you get to some steep rocks, wade into the water and follow the rocks round to the hidden cove where you can relax without a soul in sight.
Sunset in Ibiza is legendary and there’s no better place to experience it than Beniras, it’s situated in the north of the island and the night to head there has to be Sunday.
It’s hard to put into words what this place is about but it’s an eclectic atmosphere full of the worlds most colourful people who join together with their instruments and play to the setting of the sun. It honestly is one of the coolest experiences. Over the last few years the secret has got out and it’s now hugely popular so get there early, parking can be a nightmare and often the road is shut off by the police and buses are used to get everyone down, however you can avoid this if you take the road to San Miguel port and take the coastal road that’s not on the map and it takes you right there avoiding the traffic and the road blocks.
If this seems a little to much for you then you can always try sunset at the world famous cafe mambo that’s right in the heart of San Antonio. You can book a table on the terrace and have some drinks or just watch from the beach whilst enjoying the music, often some of the worlds best Djs play some laid back tunes straight after sunset so be sure to stick around, we did one year and David Guetta got on the decks! Either way it’s still one of our favourite places to go for sunset with an amazing atmosphere.
When it comes to cuisine the food speaks for itself. The Island has some amazing produce and of course the best seafood which makes for a perfect Spanish meal.
The best seafood has to be a place called El Bigotes which is on the east of the island in a tiny little bay called Cala Moli, We were told to go there by a local but warned of its popularity, apparently the King of Spain was turned away for not having a reservation! It has two sittings, 12 o’clock which serves grilled fish that was caught that morning then followed by a 2pm service that serves a traditional fish stew cooked over an open fire called bouile de peix, all I can say is wow, wash it down with a bottle of local wine, watch the fish swimming below your feet and soak up the incredible view from this great little place right on the waters edge.
If seafood isn’t your thing then head to the famous San Juan road and you’ll find an abundance of restaurants, but by far the best on this stretch of road is a place called Balafia, it’s right by the junction to Labrijita and set back off the road, keep your eyes peeled because it’s easy to miss. we’ve been coming here for years and it still delivers every time. The restaurant is family run and set amongst a canopy of orange and lemon trees making your dining experience extra special. The place is always bustling with life, families, couples, locals and some serious foodies. The menu is simple, it’s a BBQ that consists of five items, Tbone, entrecôte, rabbit, pork and lamb chops, these are accompanied with a fresh tomato and onion salad and sliced fried potato all from the garden. There’s no clever sides or fancy sauces, this place does meat and does it better than anywhere ive ever been. You must book in advance and I recommend eating late as the atmosphere really gets going around 11pm.
If we’ve managed dinner before 10pm one of most enjoyable things to do after we have eaten is go to Ibiza old town and walk around the cobbled streets. At night It’s so beautiful you almost feel your in Italy. It’s awash with life, small boutiques, tapas bars, and gelaterias. Before we cross the draw bridge into the town walls we stop by at the Marina to look at the super yachts that have docked. We like to pick which one we would buy if we happened to win the euro millions!
Ibiza old town (Eivissa)
For A couple of years we have stayed in San Miguel which is in the north of the island. It’s close to some of our recommended places and there are some great family friendly hotels there. The girls really enjoyed playing in the pool before we set off for the day.
The pool at San Miguel .
For Breakfast, there’s so much to choose from, head to Santa Gertrudis and sit in one of the many cafes in the main square or if you want some serious good organic food then head to Can Guimo on the San Juan road, it’s owned by an Argentinian and his Brazilian wife who use their Latin roots mixed with Spanish classics to create some really good breakfast. Try the Brazilian cheese balls or the eggs with eggplant is divine. Wash it down with an Acai berry juice, packed full of nutrients or grab one of there gluten free brownies that our eldest daughter is obsessed with.
If you want the best coffee, then head about a mile down the road until you reach an old industrial estate on the left. Head around the back and you will be shocked by what you find. Meke coffee is a tiny little roastary with a lovely little seating area that’s fast becoming the place to go to for the best coffee on the island, it’s run by some kiwis who know coffee and roast all the beans on sight. They do a fabulous brunch on Wednesdays which is well worth a visit.
For an alternative breakfast experience then start the day at SLUIZ, about 1km South of Santa Gertrudis. When you step inside this place you will feel like your having a weird dream. It’s mainly a furniture and clothes store but if you make your way through the giant neon alligators in the foyer and pass the graffiti filled kids play area you will come to a very unique cafe bar. The breakfast menu is typical of ibiza, fresh juices, hot croissants and great stuff for the kids. Sit back in the open terrace and take in this place whilst the kids play on the rope swing or graffiti on the chalk painted smart car. This weird and wonderful place has to be visited. Kids area at Sluiz
The best thing to do in ibiza is explore, often we’d set off in the morning with no destination in mind but our aim was to find something new, It was one of those days that we discovered Raco, we followed this cool hip couple that were covered in tattoos that passed us on their Harley, we followed them up tiny narrow roads until we came to some big electric gates with an eagle on top. After several minutes of persuading the proprietor that we weren’t typical tourist we were allowed in (Staying underground in ibiza is cool) What we found was the coolest place, hammocks in trees, cabana beds, caravans that doubled up as cocktail bars and an amazing pool surrounded by an incredible rustic villa. We spent the whole day here sipping sangria, enjoying the pool and soaking up the island life.
Ibiza is surrounded by beautiful clear waters but to see the best then head to Formentera, a small island about an hours sail. You can get a ferry from the port in Ibiza town or the best method would be to hire a private boat so you can explore the hidden coves and secluded beaches. We used a great company called ‘once upon a boat’ who supplied us with a 60ft sail boat that was so romantic and spacious. There was a cabin below deck with shower room and toilet and plenty of room up top to sunbathe or sit under the shade and enjoy the sights. The crew can provide your food and drink for you at an extra cost or if you’d prefer to bring your own then your welcome to do so. The kids are provided with life jackets and once docked at your choice of deserted beaches your free(if your brave enough) to dive off the plank or hop aboard the little motorised dingy that will take you to shore so you can explore this gem of an island. This is a truly remarkable experience that we as a family would highly recommend.
If you want to experience the sound of the island during the days then there’s several places to choose from. Beach clubs are becoming increasingly popular and none more so than the world famous Blue Marlin situated in the south in a rocky bay called Cala Jondal. We like to take the girls here early in the afternoon as it can get a bit manic after 4pm, the staff are very friendly and the food and drinks are great albeit a tad expensive. You can rent a bed for the day or just sit and people watch, your guaranteed to spot a few familiar faces, we saw Jay Z and Beyoncé there last year.(I stayed really cool, Haha!) If you fancy a dip in the sea then just head down to the little jetty or if you want a really good paella head to the restaurant next door. Be warned though, this place can seriously dent your wallet!
Another fantastic place for a great family day is Pikes just outside San Antonio. Freddie Mercury had his famous 40th birthday party there and it’s been frequented by some of the worlds coolest musicians ever since, it’s owned by an Australian called Tony Pike who built the whole place and turned it into what now is an institution on Ibiza. Everything is bold, bright and quirky, it has a pool with poolside bar, terrace restaurant and another Al fresco style dining area, day beds are spread through out the venue and there’s several great areas for the kids to play. On a Sunday it’s the family day where they serve a special Sunday roast and there is entertainment for the family, you can use the pool while sipping on a cocktail, have a game of tennis or simply just lounge about the place.
If you fancy something different then there’s a great place called hidden bar in Cala St Vincent right at the North east of the island. The beach here is great and mainly frequented by Spanish families and about 100mtrs from the beach is this hipster bar set between fairy lit trees and the most bizarre version of mini golf meandering through the whole place. The cocktail bar right at the centre serves some of the best on the island whilst the kitchen offers some decent grub too. This is a great place for families and cool place to relax and have fun alternatively if you want some more substantial food then head back to the beach, turn left and walk 50mtrs til you reach can gaat. Hands down some of the best paella.
There is so much more I could recommend but these are the places that are top of our list for now. Ibiza will always keep surprising us. A place that is for everyone, so if your thinking ibiza is not for kids, then don’t, everything on this list is not adult only, it’s all about families, all the places recommended we’ve done it with our two children in tow and they’ve loved every second of it. Spanish culture is family orientated and we need to embrace it, we often meet so many like minded people with the same values and same way of thinking on this island which is great when our children come together. Kids are never a second thought, there involved and included in everything we do, just as the Spanish do with there children which makes for a great family holiday where all of us make happy fond memories.