Thursday, August 14, 2014

IBIZA

visited July 2014
Restaurant/bar above the tri-beaches at Cala Comte



LOCATION
Ibiza is one of the Balaeric islands, situated about 150km ESE of Valencia and 260km S of Barcelona. The other major Balaeric islands of Mallorca/Majorca and Menorca/Minorca start abt 90 and 220km respectively to the NE.


Some of the places mentioned on this page. Pl is short for platja which is the Catalan version of playa/beach.


BEACHES
This is not an exhaustive review of all Ibiza's many beaches. In the limited time I had I only got to a dozen or so. They are not necessarily the best of Ibiza - but were either ones that caught my interest in my research or easily accessed on the way to these.


BEACHES WEST OF SANT ANTONI

CALA COMTE/CONTE/COMPTE
The nicest beach area I came across was about 9km west of the Brit package enclave of Sant Antoni/San Antonio - Cala Comte. This is the view of one of the 4 beaches in the immediate area from the restaurant/bar which is shown in the opening shot. Above is the "central" beach - the adjoining beach to the south can be partly seen in the shot at top of the page.
Sand is okay at all these beaches - not white but brown/yellow (the Ibiza guides call it "golden" - he he he he) and pretty clean - I reckon someone does a big clean-up after the crowds leave. The sand is fairly coarse grained.
Water is very clear - some of these spots are pretty rewarding if you have a mask and snorkel. Cool islets offshore and apparently this area has killer sunsets - I was gone by 1600 and can't confirm.
Note some sites refer to this beach area as Cala Conta but I think technically that is immediately south.


This is the beach north of "beach central". Okay for people looking to escape the crowds. Smaller beach bar/cafe behind camera. The Spaniards sure like their beach bars - so do I. Quite a lot of parking in the area and fairly regular buses from Sant Antoni/San Antonio - L4. I used the ferry from Sant Antoni to access the area - a scenic run every 30 minute from 1030. 


The 4th beach is abt 3 minutes walk south of the central beach bar/restaurant - there is a set of steps which take you down. This is the nude beach but like all Spain's naturist beaches there are plenty of "textiles" there and nobody cares.


CALA BASSA
This nice family beach is a little closer to Sant Antoni. Water deepens slowly making it suitable for kids. Very crowded early afternoon. 2 beach bars here too.


I walked across from Cala Comte on the 3km or so of sandy tracks. There is a whole bunch of these - if you keep heading in a north-easterly direction it doesn't matter much which track you take.


You can also move between the beaches on the Sant Antoni-Cala Bassa-Cala Comte ferry. There is also a Sant Antoni-Cala Basa bus (L7). but it is a different one to the Sant Antoni-Cala Comte bus so you can't use it between these beaches.


SANT ANTONI/SAN ANTONIO 
If you want a big choice of accommodation and cafes/bars/restaurants etc the nearest big resort town to C Comte and C Bassa is Sant Antoni (I think that's the Catalan spelling).

St Antoni has experienced rapid growth in recent years and has expanded around the bay to the south-west. In peak season the main town seems to be an enclave of Brit lads/ladettes while the other areas are more couples and families.
The yellow route on the image is the main road to Eivissa/Ibiza town - frequent buses connect the two. The bus station is roughly under the t of SanT.
The strip of beach heading south under the Ant of Antoni (S'Arenal) is pretty nice for a town beach, with good facilities including lifeguards, water sports, promenade restaurants/bars......


....and there's another half dozen patches of sand in front of resorts and apartments along the bay to the south-west with similar facilities. These are joined by a walking track.

There are other beaches in the area. Compact and trendy Calo des Moro is at the north end of town and there are several nice patches of sand further north. Ditto to the south of Cala Comte.



Sant Anoni gets a lot of criticism on travel sites of being the typical brash and unattractive package resort, but as I said on my Mallorca page, I find Brit holiday enclaves good value - Brits are always in good humour, the people watching is entertaining and you can always find a good deal on Engllish breakfasts and pints of beer. Note St Antoni has a couple of Ibiza's well known clubs either in town or near, and the disco bus will take ragers to/from more distant locations.


St Antoni has a big port area. The section closest the bus station has a line of daytrip boats and small ferries including the C Bassa/Compte boat. Behind this the promenade is lined with big restaurant/bars doing a roaring trade in late breakfasts when I passed by at 1200. Further north is a big section for pleasure craft of all sizes and past that are moorings for billionaire type super yachts and large ferries. There is a direct ferry to Barcelona from here.



BEACHES OF THE FAR NORTH-EAST

I caught a bus from Eivissa to Santa Eularia on the mid east coast and hired a bicycle to check the beaches above. Note there's a bunch of other nice beaches between Cala Boix and St Eularia (Cala Llenya, Es Canar, Cala Nova to name 3) but I was running out of time (I wanted to ride down to Platja Es Cavelet in the island's far south before sunset) and gave them a miss.
I forgot to put a distance scale on this image - the straight line distance between the "St Vincenc" place marker and the "Cala Boix" one is just over 5km.

SANT VINCENC
This nicely sheltered beach is 13km by road from St Eularia, 30 from Eivissa and 37 from the airport. The beach is wider than most on Ibiza, the sand "golden" in PR speak, the water pretty clear and the usual facilities of lifeguards, lotsa restaurant/bars lining the beach promenade, watersports etc are present. This place struck me as a nice, quietish, not too big couples/families destination, the opposite of St Antoni and Playa Den Bossa.

AIGO/AUGUAS BLANCA
Aigo Blanca is a short distance south of St Vincenc. Look for the well- signposted turn-off about 3km S on the main road. This leads down to a car-park about 300m short and high above the beach - a winding concrete path and some steps drop sharply to the sand.
Aigo Blanca is an official nude beach but is very popular with all beach goers. About 80% of people on the crowded sand were "textiles" - nudists mainly concentrated on the near section of the main beach with a few venturing around to the small beach in foreground (good idea to don foot-wear if you are going to rock-hop to it). There are 2 beach cafe/bars, plenty of sun-lounges for hire. Sand is clean coarse grained brown/yellow and the water is very clear.
The beach background left is Figueral - close in a straight line but 5km by road.


One of the reasons I had insufficient time for the beaches south of Cala Boix is that I spent too much of it at Agio Blanca. After some nice sun and a swim in the naturist area I repaired to the beach bar at the opposite far southern end for a reasonably priced beer or three. I'm a sucker for places like this.

FIGUERAL

Figueral struck me as being a bigger (but not too big), not so attractive (but not unattractive) alternative family resort to St Vincenc. Sand, water and facilities seemed to be the usual. That finely ground sea-weed in the swash zone was no worry and I don't like sea-weed on beaches. Some very nice looking resorts in this area.

CALA BOIX
I was underwhelmed by Cala Boix. It is short, narrow and the sand was closer to grey than anything else. It is accessed by a fairly long set of steep stairs which I considered a good workout on the way up (my wrecked jogger's knees didn't appreciate going down) but circumferentialy-enhanced dudes may not be impressed. It is 5km south of Figeural and 11 north of St Eularia. The road immediately south had some heart-breaking hills for bicyclists - and I ride every day in my very hilly hometown. I found Cala Boix pretty hard to locate but you dudes will probably have a GPS device - I don't carry one. A positive - there are killer views of the coast to the south from up the top including one of the restaurants adjacent the car park. 

SANTA EULARIA
St Eularia del Rio is 15km from Eivissa and 22 from the airport. It is Ibiza's third largest town, a long-time fishing and rural service center where tourism is now as important. 
I liked the place - it has 2 okay beaches and a nice harbour where you can jump on daytrip boats to surrounding beaches and Eivissa, all 3 of these are linked by a nice coastal walkway, the promenade behind the main beach is packed with competitive restaurant/cafes/bars, there's more of the same on a wide avenue leading away from this beach and the shopping area was bustling with people. 
There is a frequent bus service between St Eularia and Eivissa plus buses to other areas.
I forgot to put a distance scale and direction symbol on this image - it is 600m in a straight line from the "Kandani" place marker to the "to Evissa" one. North is straight up.
I hired my mountain bike at Bicicletas Kandani - their range, prices and service were good. I kept it overnight in my room at Eivissa (bit of a bugger carrying it up the stairs) and rode around the southern half of the island next day. I'm used to 45 minute bike sessions at home and after 2 days of 6+ hours riding I sure was saddle-sore. But a great way to see the island and get some good exercise.

For some reason I took no snaps of St Eularia beaches but Google will find you some good ones.



SOUTHERN BEACHES

SES SALINES aka LAS SALINAS
Patjal Ses Salines from the north. This 1500m long and fairly wide patch of sand is regarded as the "in" beach for summer, a haunt for the cool crowd and celebrities. But I didn't recognize anybody. Then again, nobody recognized me. This beach has very clear water which shelves gradually making it good for kids, and a full range of facilities including some rather swish beach bars.
Eivissa is 10km by road, the airport terminals 8 and the center of the long tourist strip at Den Bossa, the nearest resort with lotsa accommodation, abt 7.

Platja Ses Salines from the southern end.
A better idea of beach length might be gained if you click-expand image. The crowd extended right to this end. There were only a few nudists on this beach (all this end) maybe because they are well catered for at nearby Es Cavalet. To get to Es Cavalet's south end, simply take any track leading into the sand-hills at back.


It took me way longer than I thought to walk the sand hills/scrub across to Es Cavalet. Lotsa tracks there, head roughly north-east and you will arrive (music from the beach bar in the southern gay section is a good guide), but if too far south you will end up on the rocks south of Es Cavalet beach proper. No big problem.
Buses connect Pl Ses Salines with Eivissa ( L11) and Eivissa-Den Bossa-Ses Salines (11B) - for Es Cavalet get off at the roundabout where the nearly 1km road into Es Cavalet meets the main road (near top-left of image). There are big parking areas at Ses Salines, limited at Es Cavalet and the beaches' popularity meant space was at a premium in high season July - no problem for me on my mountain bike.
The seemingly cultivated area immediately north of the Ses Saline's place marker is actually one of the salt mining evaporation lakes from which this area gets its name. There is a bigger section out of frame to the north-west between the main road and the airport.

ES CAVALET/CAVALLET
This 1km long beach has a reasonable width. Water was clear but there were a few rocks just offshore in central areas. Sand was clean but hardly the white stuff the websites claim. The southern area closest camera is a gay area, the mid-sections nudist (this beach is an official nude beach) and the northern end family but as at any Spanish beach there was no shortage of each group in all areas. I can't remember any life-guards (water shelves gently and there seems to be little surf in high season) but there are two pretty swish beach restaurant/bars each end. There was a fair crowd in each area but nowhere near as packed as at Ses Salines - and plenty of unused beach between.

PLAYA DEN BOSSA
This long intensively developed beach starts about 2km by road from central Eivissa and extends another 3km south. Central parts are about 4km from airport arrivals. When I first saw this beach on Google Earth I gained the impression that southern most areas were lightly developed but my visit saw lots of accommodation and other activities in all areas. This is a very big package holiday strip which a huge range of places to stay, eat, drink, shop etc. I was on a bus which traversed the northern 2/3 of the beach road - such was the traffic and crowds it took a good 10 minutes+ to cover the 2km. Many travel books and sites abhor such areas but if you want a place close to the airport and Eivissa with a pretty nice beach and no shortage of joints to stay, shop, eat and rage, Den Bossa could be just right.


PLAYA DEN BOSSA
Abt 2/3 of Playa den Bossa from offshore. This image will be clearer if you click-expand.

PLAY DEN BOSSA FROM NEAR THE SOUTHERN END
The newer quieter end of Playa Den Bossa had no shortage of people or resorts in July 2014
The beach has a full range of facilities. It was nice and wide here but some areas further north appear a bit narrow. Sand okay, water shelving gently and pretty clean. Some very flash beach bars along the extended beach and at night some of Ibiza's best known clubs kick off after 0000.

PLAYA DEN BOSSA NORTH END
This area has been developed longer but the accommodation options don't look shabby and extend further from the beach. Some very competitive restaurants and bars in the blocks behind the sand. Eivissa is not far.

OTHER SOUTHERN BEACHES
The section of coast to the west of Ses Salines is supposed to have some of Ibiza's nicer small coves and beaches (Ses Illetes/Cala Jondel/Sa Caleta/Pl Codolar). However this area is accessed from a main road the other side of the airport and I had insufficient time to explore it.


FORMENTERA
Formentera is a smaller island starting abt 6km south of the southern tip of mainland Ibiza. Administratively it is part of Ibiza. The island has some gorgeous beaches and is both a major day trip destination and a holiday location in itself with quite a lot of accommodation. Most of the island is flat and its compact size both make exploring by bicycle/moto very popular.
I haven't tried to show all the beaches (there are plenty of good Formentera online guides which do this), just the Illetes-Levant peninsula I visited. Es Pujols is the biggest resort town and St Francesc de Formentera aka S F Xavier aka San Francisco (strewth!) - the "capital" although it is really a village.


The Illetes/Llevant peninsula has a number of beach areas. I think I have labelled them correctly but readers are welcome to post in at the foot of this page with corrections.
I wanted to walk from the port up to the tip of the peninsula - I didn't hire a bicycle because the roads and tracks end well south of Es Trucadors. I walked up on the western side and intended to return on the eastern side but a very strong north-easterly wind was blowing making conditions unpleasant that side.


PLAYAS LA SAVINA and EL TIBURON
The first beach I came to was Playa La Savina which as far as I can tell becomes El Tiburon towards its northern end. Hey, sand which is closer to white than yellow! Water nice and clear, shelving gently. Beach not crowded on what was a busy day further north. Popular Tiburon restaurant in the dunes towards the north end. If you click-expand you may be able to see Es Moli de Sal restaurant high on the headland in background.

PLAYA ILLETES
Walk up past Es Moli, across a small bay with an okay beach and up over the next low rocky headland and you will come to Playa Illetes, what I thought was the nicest beach on the peninsula (some of the beaches on the eastern side may be as nice when it is not too windy).
500m long, whitish sand, clear water - this was by far the most popular beach on the peninsula. Even though island websites say all the beaches are a haven for nudists, 99% of people here were "textiles" - a few naturists were in central and far-end areas. There is a lifeguard tower behind camera and a bar/restaurant behind-right.  A nice little islet easily waded to was left of camera. The bus service terminates a few hundred meters behind camera. 

ES TRUCADORS
Further north, past the end of the dune area you cross a rocky divide to reach this section of beach which goes right across the the headland. With no real dunes for protection this was windier on the lee western side than the beaches already mentioned, hence fewer people, although maybe twice the crowd was present when I first passed on my way to the top of the peninsula. This was the most popular nudist area with maybe only half the people here textiles.

s'ESPALMADOR ISLAND
The peninsula continues another km or so past Es Trucadors - there are several more stony divides separated by small scratchy patches of sand. The island is reached by crossing the above channel - websites say you can wade but the couple in shot had no luck and turned back. Maybe the tide was wrong. Anyway, I was a bit short on time and didn't bother although the island is said to have some nice beaches.

Getting to Formentera
There are more than half dozen services fom Ibiza (Google will find them), many from Eivissa (including a vehicle ferry) - but some from places like S Eularia, S Antoni and Den Bossa. Most land at La Savina but a few go direct to Illetes. There are also direct ferries from the mainland and Mallorca. Ibiza has the nearest airport.

I chose the Transmapi Jet service because it was fastest and had most frequent departures. Here it is entering La Savina port.
Tip: if you are heading for Illetes/Levant stick closely to those building in background. I took off along the main road which I found after 10 minutes or so was heading ACROSS and DOWN the island. Duh!


The port area is a hive of activity when the ferries come in. Background are buses to major parts of the island. There has to be half a dozen moto/bicycle/car hire joints within 200m. On the water side of these buildings is a strip of fair value cafe/bars where you can later sit and relax while waiting for your boat.


EIVISSA/IBIZA TOWN
Eivissa's scenic harbour with the battlements, Dalt Vila (medieval high town) and the old section in background.


My first view of Eivissa. A recent change: ferries from the mainland were now docking at a new facility behind camera, about 4km around the harbour from my destination - one of those white buildings close to the water and Dalt Vila background left. No worries, it was 0700 and reception didn't open until 1000 - I figured a scenic stroll on such a nice morning would clear the cobwebs (my self-inflating mattress on the deck was okay but not the Ritz. Don't roll yer eyes, you are dealing with a bottom-budget traveler here). 
The shot above this one was taken half way through my walk.

I find it a bit poor that the ferry companies don't lay on a free shuttle as at the larger Greek harbours. True, there was a town bus company coach and plenty of taxis - but bottom budget travelers like me are not whelmed by pay transport in such situations.

Eivissa is pretty compact, has good shopping, lotsa accommodation, no shortage of restaurants/bars/clubs and is the focus of island transport. There is no bus station - rather buses for various parts of the island use different stops on Av D'isidor MacBich as home bases - walk along and find your bus's shelter. Small local ferries leave mainly from the western part of the harbour for places along the coast and Formentera. Big cruise ships dock just west of the "ferries" place marker unless there is an oversupply - see below. 
The old town is from "tezza's digs" to a line between the "ue" of "avenuUE" and  the "l" of "Dalt ViLa" which is the extremely old town. The new town is west of here. Plus that area north of the harbour is new - some very new resort accommodation blocks.
Playa Talamenca is the town beach.

CASA DE HUESPEDES LA PENA GUEST HOUSE
My digs in Eivissa is located at the quiet end of Ibiza town'a trendiest area - the old quarter with its narrow lanes, old buildings etc. A short distance to the west, the alleys come alive at night with dozens of restaurant/bars, trendy shops and a few clubs. It was formerly gay central but now there is a full mix of people and the area is family friendly. Note I had no trouble with noise at the guest house and I'm sensitive to this. My room was a compact double - just enough room for 2 plus gear. It was clean, had a comfy bed, but no fan (not needed with the harbour and sea 50m front and back) or tv. The outside bathroom was clean but compact: hot water was a bit temperamental. Management and staff were friendly. Note my room was not serviced in 3 days - this is fine by me; I abhor the waste in changing sheets etc each day - but the rubbish bin was peaking. No doubt the management would have emptied it on request but with a big street skip just outside I did it myself. Given the position, time of year and the standard of accommodation I thought the price represented good value (image from Agoda booking site).

View behind my room. I knew I was only one very short passageway from the harbour out front but I kept hearing gulls and boat noises from behind my room. Made sense once I strolled around and checked the scene.


View from the front door. I went out one morning and saw the above. The 2 cruise liner berths across the harbour were full, another was anchored outside in the bay and this baby had come in at night. I didn't hear a thing.


This is a day-before view down the southern port esplanade from roughly where the cruise liner came in. Area between here and Uncle Fred's super-yacht (check the helicopter top-rear) used to be where the big ferries from the mainland landed. Note the lack of seating in such a scenic section - but the many restaurants/bars across the road have plenty of seating: and no doubt lots of local government push. The security goons on the gangplank of my Uncle (FastCash) Fred's tinny didn't invite me up: maybe FastCash didn't like what I wrote about dodgy bond traders. You have to trust me on this.


The southern port esplanade is pretty quiet in daylight but comes alive at night with many restaurants and bars.


The narrow predestrianised lanes behind the harbour esplanade were even better. No shortage of places to eat/drink/shop or party. The area's gay past could be seen from some very funky looking gay bars along here, but the theme now is more couples/families. I thought Ibiza's old area was better than at San Sebastian and Barcelona. Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava can match it.


I called in to this German-owned bar/restaurant to use the wifi (my accomm had this but I'd forgotten to get sign-in first day). It was the night of the World Cup Semi final and half the German expats and tourists on Ibiza were there. When I arrived their team was ahead 6-0 and they were very happy: when I left it was 7-0 and they were ecstatic.

TOWN BEACH - PL TALAMANCA
Situated north of town and the port's new ferry area, this beach may be a bit of a stretch from some sections of Eivissa. People staying in my part of town will find the north end of Pl Den Bossa closer. But for the bunch of new accommodation joint north of the harbour its location is just right. And it is an okay beach with the usual sand, water quality and inclusions.



WILD IBIZA
The island has a reputation for being pretty wild but I thought things were not too over the top. The wildest thing I saw was at Es Cavalet where some couples very late in the day tended to get a bit ....um .... affectionate. Crikey! Mum warned me about Euro nude beaches.

IMAGE OF CLUB DANCERS REMOVED ON DIRECTION OF GOOGLE - GOOD GRIEF, WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO WHEN READER WOWSERS CAN DICTATE WHAT WE POST AND VIEW?
Admittedly I didn't hit the clubs. I'm a budget traveler and consider a 60 euro entry and 10 euro beers way high for the dubious pleasure of busting a few cool moves on the dance floor with some scantily clad Euro girl. Mum warned me about Euro girls too .
On top of that, I heard the deejays don't run Barry Manilow any more.
image - Essential Ibiza 

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1 comment:

Allison SMITH said...

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