Ibiza is the most extreme of the islands, in landscape and visitors.
The Greeks called Ibiza and Formentera the Islas Pitiusas (Islands of Pine Trees). The landscape is harsh and rocky, and the island receives little rainfall. Alongside the hardy pines, the most common crops are olives, figs and almonds. Perhaps surprisingly, about half the island (especially the fairly unspoilt northeast) remains covered by thick woods. Indeed, driving around the back roads of the north is to plunge into a rural idyll – not what one associates with Ibiza at all!
A rugged coastline is interspersed with dozens of sandy beaches, most consumed by intensive tourist developments. A few out-of-the-way beaches remain, but in summer you won’t be doing much solitary swimming.
Ibiza’s beaches and laid-back attitude first became a major drawcard in the flower-power heyday of the 1960s – while North America’s hippies were ‘California dreaming’, their Euro‑pean counterparts were heading here to tune in, turn on and drop out. It’s hard to believe that in 1956 the island boasted only 12 cars!
Initially for the hip and fashionable, Ibiza (a mixed World-Heritage site because of Ibiza city’s architecture and the island’s rich sealife) soon latched on to the money-spinnerof bulk tourism and started shipping in summer sun-seekers by the thousand. Today the island populace of 111, 100 watches on as millions (more than four million passengers are registered annually through the airport alone) of hippies, fashion victims, nudists, clubbers and package tourists pour through S’Illa Blanca (the White Island) each year.
Birthplace of the rave, Ibiza is home to some of Spain’s most (in) famous clubs. The outrageous summer scene is complemented by a diverse collection of bars.
Away from the bars are the woods, coastal walking trails and quiet (if not deserted) beaches that allow you to elude Ministry of Sound–style madness. Places such as Santa Eulària d’es Riu and the small resorts and coves of the northeast are ideal for family holidays.
Around about 20 beautiful and comfortable hoteles rurales (rural hotels) in renovated country houses are scattered about the island’s north.
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Last updated: Feb 8, 2013
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