Ibiza is an island designed with lazing in mind. Sure, the pace can be significantly ramped up for those who seek it, but balmy temperatures, sparkling waters and seemingly unending blue skies lend themselves naturally to relaxation. Add to that rows of sumptuous sun loungers lining the Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay pool, cocktails delivered to order, and the magnetic pull of the laid-back seaside ambience and unsurprisingly, a state of zen is easily achieved. That said, if you’re keen to really embrace the slow life, our recommendation always strays to the white sand shores of Formentera, where time takes on a meaning entirely of its own.
Only reachable by boat – and it’s well worth chartering your own for the occasion – Formentera lies around 20km south of Ibiza, and while the islands share similarities in landscape, they’re worlds apart in character. Indeed, Formentera is Ibiza’s quieter, more mellow little sister – where Ibiza likes to party, she likes snooze; where Ibiza commands attention, she sits contentedly in her own salty skin. They differ too, when it comes to food. While Ibiza is home to a slew of internationally well-known gems, Formentera’s culinary charms are less overt. Here, half the fun lies in unearthing treasures, often having stumbled across them while looking for somewhere else.
That sentiment doesn’t extend to the gloriously gorgeous beach of Ses Illetes, however. Famous for being Formentera’s most visually striking stretch of coastline – and with sugary sand and gin-clear shallows that are hard to counter – it’s the first port of call for many of the island’s visitors, and thanks to an array of world class beach restaurants which boast A-List approval, few make it much further inland. Places like Beso Beach, Juan y Andrea, Tiburon and Es Moli de Sal are the dreamiest of distractions, offering respite from the heat, sustenance for the night to come, and ice-cold bottles of rosé that revive even the most sun-saturated of souls.
Nevertheless, those who venture further into the island’s midst are duly rewarded with culinary excellence. Take Playa Migjorn, for example, a vast stretch of sand that’s peppered with hotspots – this beach is home to everything from luxurious restaurants to makeshift beach shacks. Try the Riviera-chic Gecko for fresh smoothies and a healthy breakfast as the sun’s coming up, 10.7 for high-end Italian fare, and for a quintessentially quirky Formentera dinner, Blue Bar, where live shows at full moon include dancing aliens – we kid you not. Finish off the day at Kiosko 62, drinking the shack’s signature gin and lemon smash cocktails with your feet in the sand to the sound of chattering locals.
Head east and make haste for Far de la Mola, the lighthouse that peers out onto the edge of the world that was said to inspire the Jules Verne novel of the same name. Take a wander among the wind-battered cliffs, browse the gift shop, which has a great range of island-inspired boho fashion (and more importantly, souvenir magnets), and then reward yourself with a cocktail at Codice Luna Formentera. On Wednesdays, the local artisan market will be in full flow, so stop by there and saunter among stalls armed with gelato, or head to Majoral, for luxury bespoke jewellery you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Cruising back down the hill towards civilisation (taking a pitstop at Mirador to admire the panoramic views of Formentera below and Ibiza in the distance), stop in at the rocky outcrop of bays knowns as Es Caló, and the restaurant of the same name, which is buzzing from breakfast through to dinner. Have a breakfast coffee or take a spot for lunch, when you can sample the freshest seafood while peering out onto the otherworldly turquoise waters. Alternatively, there’s Can Rafalet for authentic local cuisine. Think paella with Formentera lobster, bullit de peix (fish stew), and fideua (noodles) with fresh seafood – you’ll soon understand why the queues are out the door each day.
For the most bustling night time dining experiences, the island's villages can't be missed. In Sant Ferran, the street-side pizzas at Macondo are the stuff of a legend-it's where the island's Italian expat community can be found night after night. Be sure to grab a beer at at Fonda Pepe, the hostal where Bob Marley once hung out in the 60s, and hasn't changed one iota since. . Otherwise there’s plenty to choose from in Sant Francesc. Ca Na Joana serves Mediterranean fare in the most romantic of settings; Cana Pepa is famed for its lunchtime blackboard specials; Can Pepito specialises in crepes; and Can Carlos is the stuff of local- and New York City!- legend.
A Mi Manera in Cala Saona is a much-loved stalwart to the island’s fine dining scene, where guests sit in the heart of an organic farm beneath the stars surrounded by the who’s who of Formentera. Back in the port there’s Can Carlitos for watching the sunset over Ibiza, Quimera for farewell cocktails, and Temakinho for Brazilian sushi. And for those hoping the Formentera night will never end? The diminutive clubs of Tipic and Pineta, where on specified nights, dancing continues till dawn. Maybe these two Balearic islands aren’t quite so different after all…