One of the many secrets of Ibiza’s tiny neighbouring island is that its vibe is completely different to the constantly busy, mainly party flavoured one of its “bigger sister”… and that is not only down to the difference in size, nature and wildlife.
You will feel that vibe as soon as you set foot on the ground of the amazingly tranquil and neat Maritima in La Sabina (pronounced La Savina) – its almost like time & space play a different role here. And the more you get to explore Formentera’s mystical magic, the more that very difference will occur to you.
Once you made it over (in about 30 minutes and for about one Euro per minute) with one of actually four ferry companies that offer a regular transit from Ibiza town (or try the morning transfer from Santa Eulalia) it will be quite obvious that there is no need to rush things. In fact, you should take your time with everything you see, feel, eat, drink and can do here – the reward you are in for has healing qualities. In homage to that simple fact, try not to hurry on your way out of La Savina in the first place. You will easily find a scooter or car for rent at any time of day, so we recommend you slowly walk left past the numerous rental company offices, admire some of the amazing boats that moore right to your left and try to get a table at the lovely AMARRE 32 café so you can take it all in before you check it all out.
Once you digested, walk another 100 metres, turn left again – and you find yourself in the middle of the Islands´most pretty artesan market, going on all day every day during the season. About 12 little stalls offer a variety of all sorts of unique & stylish stuff that will be hard to find anywhere else. No cheap sunglasses, pirated CDs and other naff tourist shit here – remember: Formentera is ruled by stylish Italians, and the formenterensc people are just as picky in terms of design & quality. Ibiza in fact could learn a lot from its little sister in that sense.
Now it’s decision time: hang out some more, keep on walking left past the market as the first (and acually very pretty) beach is awaiting you just a couple of hundred meters further… or compare prices for scooter, bicycle or car rental to get going on a trip you will never forget. A scooter is definitely the best choice in case you go for effortless independence depending on circumstance. Not all the beaches offer ample parking space for cars, and depending on the wind (which is always a tad bit stronger over here) a bicycle ride could turn out to be more of a workout than you thought. Make sure to remember the license plate number of your scooter (just in case: it should also be written on the key pad), as later on there will be hundreds of similar scooter models parked around yours, and they basically all look the same!
A few more points for the check list before you set off: make sure to make use of high protection sun screen, as the sun burns down mercilessly at any time of day but you might not be aware of it because of the pleasant winds at first. Thats why you should also always keep a bottle of water (or better two) within reach – not only will you probably have to spend a fortune on it later on some beach… chances are you will find a beautiful beach spot that has no bar or chiringuito within walking distance. You don’t want to get up on your scooter again just to find a place to keep you from dehydrating. Safety comes first, so be smart and wear that helmet during any time of your scooter ride. Flip Flops are also not really the best choice, so keep them in your beach bag until you reach your final destination. Especially in July & August, the tiny Formentera roads are so crowded, and as the combination of climate & nature’s beauty tends to make most people totally careless, make sure to drive responsible. Remember: Foooooormeeeeenteeeeraaaa iiiiis slooooooow (as the locals say), and therefore it’s best to adapt to that tempo.
During the ride out of La Savina, you will notice giant salt lakes to your left, the so called Salinas. We will get there eventually on our way back in the evening. Keep driving straight ahead direction San Francisco (San Francesc).That cute little pueblo is indeed the island’s capital and hosts the local government, police and radio station (RADIO ILLA). Once you reach the first roundabout, turn right and try to park your vehicle somewhere close on the road to Cala Saona and Cap Barbaria, just a few hundred meters in. If you feel hungry now, SA PIZZA (on the right side of that very road) offers the best Pizza slices on the whole island. Most of them have funny or even silly names, but the taste won’t get any better than this. Ready for a little stroll around town? Walk up to the church on one of the four totally cute pedestrian zones, all rammed with nice stores, bars & cafés. At some points during summer, the church square hosts classy musical events (like e.g. the Jazz Festival). Venture out from there, the amount of amazing concept stores & boutiques around is hard to deal with, especially for the ladies, so take your time (as well as all your credit cards). We recommend XALOK for the nicest, unique Formentera merchandise (still hungry try the next door CAFÉ MATINAL for their famous breakfast), and make sure to look for BLINK (women) and RHEI (men) in the same area – some of the coolest clothes & goodies in the most stylish surrounding await you.
Back on the scooter and straight ahead at all times, further up the road to breathtaking Cap Barbaria. On the way to that moon-like plateau with a pretty lighthouse and an unbelievable view over Ibiza and the sea, take a look at the ancient little houses to your left & right, nestled deep within the amazing landscape: this is Formentera’s last area with neither electricity nor running water. Just a bit more further up the hill – and as soon as you see the lighthouse you will be bamboozled by the views & energy up here. Look right and you see Ibiza’s magic rock Es Vedra. Turn left so you can peek at what is known as Platja Migjorn: almost 9 km of the most unspoiled beaches you can imagine – we’ll get there soon! On a good, clear day you can also see the African coastline in the very far distance.Time to daydream, meditate or just stop & stare. As you walk towards the cliff to take a closer look, make sure not to fall into the bizarre, circle shaped hole in the ground (but try the ladder leading you down if there’s time).
Okay, seen enough? Now back on that scooter, heading back direction San Francisco – but take a left when you see the signs pointing towards Cala Saona. It’s time for a swim in Formentera’s magic waters finally, and it will be one you won’t forget. After the Cala Saona experience, take the road back to San Francesc but this time turn right on the village roundabout and get back on the main road… which will lead you to the next village. Although San Ferran is located right along the main street, its pace is just as calm as the San Francesc one, maybe even more so. Park your vehicle and walk up to the church square. On your way you can make a dinner reservation at Formentera’s supreme outdoor pizza place MACONDO just before you reach the island’s most legendary bar, the FONDA PEPE. In case you plan to stay overnight, right opposite is the lovely HOSTAL PEPE, the ultimate in simple, nice & tranquil hospitality.
Head further down the main road direction LA MOLA, get ready to venture out to your right, preferrably at KM 8. Platja Migjorn time! Follow the (pretty rough) camino and you reach the parking of the legendary BLUE BAR. Before you go there for lunch, dinner or to enjoy their wonderful alien shows and DJ sessions for sunset, turn right and walk down the wooden path, passing the amazing apartment building called EL PUEBLO BALEAR and then reaching LUCKY, a tiny beach shack which serves as the numero uno south beach hotspot for the (more relaxed part of the) beautiful people of Italy.
If you are in for classic spanish food, walk on until you reach REAL PLAYA and its own little, ultra pretty beach (apartments for rent as well). Once the sun sets, keep walking on the wooden path along the beach for kilometers this side, you can reach GECKO beach, SOUTH beach and some other famous paradise spots while letting the sweet melancholy of natures infinite beauty spoil you. Meanwhile, we are back on the BLUE BAR parking and walk up to the place itself. As the name implies, everything is just as blue as the colours of the sea here. The kitchen is amazing but it is also great to just hang out in the shade on the terrace and enjoy the unique view. Just in case, get down on the beach to take a swim. Or keep walking left through the hot sand. Pass by LAS BANDERAS and many other magic beach spots, most of them unspoiled (even in high season). After a while you have reached another italian style fortress called 10.7… if you have the right credit card and no limit on it, this is the place to go all the way in terms of food.
Walk on and you reach the famous PIRATABUS, and a bit further down the FLIPPER & CHILLER, they also offer great food. You can also reach all those places if you go back on the main road and turn right when you come from BLUE BAR, direction ES CALO and EL PILAR DE LA MOLA. Most have their own caminos from the main street onwards and have signs there pointing you in the right direction. Before you let your scooter take you up to EL PILAR DE LA MOLA, go for a swim in ES CALO. Magic coves await you, as well as more varieties of that mesmerizing blue (or rather turquoise) sea water. In case you crave food in this area, there’s a couple of great restaurants with amazing views in Es Calo, or try the ACAPULCO (km 12.6) a bit further up the main street, they serve great pizza! Then move on further uphill. Drive by ES MIRADOR, the spectacular viewpoint which allows for the ultimate view across the complete island – it will look even more spectacular on your way back down.
Along the way up to the plateau of EL PILAR DE LA MOLA, you will notice the nature changing from desert like to miraculous forest style. Legend has it that Bob Dylan lived up here for a longer period in the mid sixties for inspiration, and it’s still quite easy to see why. There are a lot of bars & restaurants worth checking out up here depending on what tickles your fancy, and also a nice tiny square hosting the famous artesan hippie market (on sundays). Save some time to go on further down the straight line road to FARO DE LA MOLA – the view into the eternity of the blue sea and mesmerizing horizon from next to the lighthouse is a revelation. Once you arrive, stroll around for a bit & watch the seagulls dive down from the breathtakingly high cliffs, then make sure to put yourself on the terrace of CODICE LUNA, a pleasantly simple chill restaurant. Not only is this the ultimate hangout to experience the amazing “end of the world” vibes up here, they also have a great taste in adequate music to accompany the views. In case you manage to escape before you completely lose your feeling of time & space, don’t forget to stop at ES MIRADOR on your way back down for another spectacular view – then head back along the main street all the way to SAN FERRAN but take a right in the middle of the village, direction ES PUJOLS. There’s some lovely houses to see on your left & right along the way – and then, just before you reach ES PUJOLS, you will notice you almost ran right into TIPIC, Formentera’s only “serious” (yet super tiny) night club with format.
If you feel in the mood for a buzzing “Rimini” experience, stop in ES PUJOLS for shopping, food & drinks or just some people watching. As this village is by far the islands most “commercial” spot, the mix of faces, characters & bodies here is mind boggling . Go for an even deeper italian experience? Check out the BANANAS, COYOTE or some of the other classic azurro party places all over town. If you don’t feel like spoiling your newly gained tranquility, leave ES PUJOLS to your right and head towards the amazing salt lakes of s’Estany Pudent. It might smell a bit funny here at times (which is down to the salt production in the heat), but we still recommend to take a walk and/or a soft right at HOTEL ROCA MAR to reach one of the two most “obvious” Formentera beaches: PLATJA LEVANT. Beware: just like SES ILLETES (the other “obvious” beach right on the opposite side in walking distance, hosting the italian high society and the crews from the bigger yachts in places like BESO BEACH, EL TIBURON and the quite overrated JUAN Y ANDREA you should arrive early here to find a nice peaceful spot. In August these places are packed to the max! As this area is a protected environment, don’t shy away from paying a few euros to enter the area on your vehicle (discount for residents), as the money is used to restore the magic & delicate fauna & flora here after the stampede has moved on in October.
If you have some time left, try to make it over to ILLA S’ESPALMADOR – on a day with less wind & waves you can wade through the seawater from SES ILLETES and LEVANTE. It is no surprise these beaches are constantly among the most beautiful in the world – but that’s exactly also why they are not among the most tranquil anymore. Formentera is probably the single most peaceful place in the whole mediterranean, and that’s why a good party here is a bit more difficult to come across than in Ibiza. If you really can not resist the temptation, ES PUJOLS has to offer most of the night time enjoyment (TIPIC, PACHANQUA, BANANAS & CO.) – but chances are you can also join quite adventurous, even steamy get togethers inside & around places like BLUE BAR after midnight (connaisseurs beware of the early AM music selection though, it is mostly far from eclectic, let alone contemporary).
The beautiful thing is that Formentera cares to differ, which makes at least half of its unique magic. You can contribute by respecting the peace as well as the nature. Find a hotel or hostal if you stay overnight – camping is forbidden on the whole island. When you think of the beauty of nature and the high risk of wildfires, it is easy to understand why. There used to be no cigarette tips & litter on any of these beaches but that has changed with the increasing mass tourism, especially since there now is a big ferry arriving daily from the spanish mainland as well. As the island unconditionally shares its most beautiful treasures with you, give back some of the love by not littering, driving responsibly and by respecting the overall peace & tranquility. If you had too much of anything at night, leave your scooter or car until the next day & share a taxi with someone – ugly accidents & paradise vibes don’t mix too well. Some of the roads & caminos easily turn into dangerous dirt tracks at night. Just in case there are three bus lines, connecting the few central spots & villages until late evening. If you feel like hitch hiking, beware: if the police sees you, be prepared to get fined… the taxi lobby has quite a say in paradise.
cans to put your buds in – a genius idea you find on the beaches:
In summary, feel free to revisit any of the above mentioned spots & locations on any other day and just hang out in one of them (or maybe two). There is no haste in Formentera, and you don’t really want to be identified as a careless tourist moron right away, so remember to take it easy and leave your wristwatch at home… maybe even also your iPhone headset. The sound of silence in Formentera goes hand in hand with the breathtaking beauty of nature all around you.
Enjoy the silence!
Tags: Formentera guide 2015