It’s hot, it’s sexy, and it’s gyrating with a groovy party vibe. Rising from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Ibiza is packed with beautiful pristine beaches, cheap hotels, and an overflow of clubs and bars. With the onslaught of tourism, the Balearic Island has unfortunately earned itself a reputation as the party capital of Europe, with a steady flow of Europeans flooding its shores.
On my first trip to Spain (which has since sparked a dozen other trips to Spain before I eventually moved there), I made it a point to visit Ibiza. I was in my early twenties, and the sound of relaxing on the beach by day and partying by night sounded cool. But after a week of non-stop tanning and partying, I’d had quite enough – and my curiousity got the best of me. Surely there was something else on Ibiza beyond the foam parties and tacky tourist bars?
So, I ditched my margaritas and ventured out to explore — to find out where locals live, understand a bit more about their way of life, and get a grasp of what Ibiza is really about. And indeed, I wasn’t disappointed.
Far beyond the tourist town of San Antonio lie clusters of beautiful villages chockfull of whitewashed houses, cobblestoned alleys, and quaint little churches. With a rented car, I wound through the mountain slopes of Ibiza, past tiny pueblos, and met many locals who were excited to show me their side of Ibiza.
One of my favourite spots was the village of Sant Miguel de Balansat, located between the sea and the mountains. Right atop of a hill stands a 16th century church with spectacular views of the backcountry. I also hiked to the remote coves of Cala d’Aubarca where the craggy cliffs plunge straight into the Mediterranean.
Another great base was Sant Joan, hippie headquarters for those in search of a quiet, alternative lifestyle. Instead of staying at one of the numerous high-rise hotels in the touristy areas, I rented a villa in Sant Joan and experienced how it was to live in a traditional Spanish village. Arriving here was almost like stepping back in time, when Ibiza was still largely undisturbed. Even though some parts of the island have been dominated by tourism, there are still many pockets left to be uncovered by the curious traveler.