For those who are adventurous, the early hours are perfect for hiking, stand up paddle boarding or horseback riding. How about yoga on your private deck? With access to some of the island’s best beaches, secluded coves and easy-going eateries, this part of the island is home to a cosmopolitan crowd and has regular visitors. You’ll soon understand why trailblazers and bohemians alike have drifted north to enjoy the island’s natural magnificence.
The collection of spectacular beaches and chiringuitos include Cala Llenya, Moon Beach and Cala Xuclar, which offer a chance to cool off between exploring the relaxed villages of San Carlos and San Juan. The north is also the home of the island’s two biggest hippy markets, where you enter a kaleidoscope of craft, jewellery and design.
When you’re satisfied by the sandy shores and your inner bon vivant is satiated, you can retreat to your villa and enjoy the magic of the Balearic.
An eclectic mix of legendary bars, beachside paella, family-friendly Italian and organic farm-to-table eateries ensure that everyone is catered for. Towards the heart of Ibiza is the old San Juan Road, known as “restaurant road”, where you’ll find Nagai, Oleoteca Ses Escoles, Bambuddha and – just off in the village of San Lorenzo – La Paloma.
At the most northern point of the island you’ll experience sensory overload at Los Enamorados in the seaside village of Portinatx. The cocktails and tapas they serve capture a fusion of flavours from around the world while you enjoy the restaurant’s whimsical position between the lighthouse and the sea. You’ll also appreciate the views from The Boat House in the striking village of Cala Sant Vincent. Their paella is famous and the decor matches the nautical menu with its rustic fishing nets and hammocks.
Go inland and you’ll find Sharmarkanda, inspired by the Asian town it is named for. It’s like being in a postcard from the silk road. With an enchanting atmosphere and an international menu, Sharmarkanda is a transportive spot and there is often live music in the garden. Also serving food with tunes, the Pizza Enfarinarte in San Carlos makes thin-based pizzas (reputedly the best on the island) and has long been popular with the locals. It’s the perfect place to chill when you’re done with rambling around the Las Dalias market.
Babylon Beach serves organic fare – fresh fish and locally sourced ingredients, many from the local C’an Pere Mussona Farm. Tradition meets trendy on the Babylon menu, and there is a kids’ zone to keep young guests entertained while their parents order.
The Giri Cafe in San Juan prepares local and sustainable food on a creative menu and the offerings transform with the changing seasons. Take refuge at a shady table in the garden and enjoy the sun on one of their sofa beds. Deeper inland Can Guimo prepares healthy food, colourful juices and interesting vegan options. Their desserts are also worth saving space for.
Back on the coast overlooking the Cala Nova Bay, Aiyanna offers panoramic views of the clear Mediterranean water from its wooden terraces, which are raised just above the level of the sand. Go for a sangria and soak up the magical setting. It’s a chic space that speaks to its owner’s sophisticated style. In the summer they offer morning yoga classes combined with healthy breakfasts.
Perhaps not the most culinary of offerings, but amongst the most legendary – be sure to stop for a drink at Bar Anita in San Carlos. The original hippy bar, this family-run institution will take you back in time to the 1960s. They serve homestyle cooking and their in-house blend of the herbal liquor Hierbas Ibicencas, made from a unique mix of aromatic herbs and medicinal plants. Also an island legend, El Bigotes is just up the coast from Santa Eulalia as you near the Cala Llenya beach. It’s wonderfully rustic, has no menu and – until recently – no telephone. The chef serves up only one meal a day – his famous bullit de peix. You won’t regret tasting it.
The beaches in this quarter of the island face the rising sun, perfect for early birds and those hoping to make the most of the day. Throughout the calmer months of winter many of the beaches in north-east Ibiza are often very peaceful and as sun kissed as they are in the summer. Perfect for picnics and walks or horse rides along the sand. Cala Boix and Xarraca are known to be two of the best.
Cala Xuclar is a small, sandy cove where the crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkelling. Rarely too busy, there is one small kiosk where you can buy supplies but like many of the island’s northern coves, it is best to bring your own provisions. The soft sands of Pou des Lleo attract residents rather than tourists. Rows of fisherman’s huts give this beach some rustic charm and a small beach hut serves as a bar. There is a hostel on the edge of the beach that’s popular with locals across the island and serves simple seafood and Spanish cuisine.
Hike through the pine trees to find the bright emerald waters of Cala Mastella, one of Ibiza’s smallest beaches. It is uncrowded, especially outside of the peak of summer. The walk to the beach is very pretty and you’ll earn your swim, although it’s also a popular beach to arrive at with a yacht.
Elsewhere, the Moon Beach is accessible via a dirt track and has remained a relative “secret” purely because of the effort involved to reach it. Wear your trainers rather than your sandals to get there and enjoy its amazing views and tranquil environment.
The fine seagrass that covers the rocks at the S’Illot d’es Rencli Beach make this the perfect little cove for snorkelling. This small and peaceful pebble beach sits at the top of Ibiza’s north coast, as the shore bends towards the west, which makes it a great place for watching a sunset away from the crowds.
The white sand and shallow waters of Cala Llenya make it a great beach for families. Similarly, the still, shallow waters of Playa es Figueral make it popular amongst tourists. Because of the hotels that line the edge of Playa es Figueral it’s busier than some of the north’s other spots, and if you’re interested in watersports there is kayaking and stand-up paddle boards. Cala Boix also has lifeguards, beach bars and restaurants if you’re after a beach with a vibe. It’s enclosed by high cliffs and reached via a long set of steep stairs, so only suitable for the nimble. When the afternoon winds are right, Cala Boix offers good waves for body surfing.
If you really want to worship the sun then head to Aguas Blancas, a secluded official naturist spot. Popular amongst the island’s residents, this beach is best in the mornings before the sun goes behind the cliffs and leaves the sand in the shade.
The north of the island has some great hiking routes, particularly around San Juan. You can also organise horse riding with the horse whisperers at Ibiza Horse Valley. Set up as a sanctuary for mistreated horses, the owners are incredibly knowledgeable about the psychology of their herd and will be thrilled to tell you about how its members interact. Half-day rides take you through the mountains and full days end on the beach. There are horses to suit every skill level.
Established in the 1970s by the island’s original hippy contingent, you can easily get lost for hours in the markets of Punta Arabi and Las Dalias. Punta Arabi is the original hippy market and is still the biggest. Open on Wednesdays in Es Cana, the market takes place in the shade of pine trees and is brimming with bohemian outfits, artisanal offerings and handmade goods.
The iconic Las Dalias opens to treasure hunters on Saturdays in San Carlos. Spend the day wandering through the stalls and enjoying people watching. DJs play from mid-afternoon until midnight, when everyone decamps to a nightclub round the corner. Las Dalias also has a night market in the summer months with live music, workshops and the usual craft and design stalls.
If you’re interested in crystals and they’re restorative power, be sure to visit Crystal Mountain. Set up by a community of healers, the centre houses an impressive collection of large crystals and hosts wellness events such as meditation and breathwork.
Between Santa Eulalia and Es Cana, the Acrobosc Ibiza has ziplines that will take you flying through the pine trees and climbing walls for all age groups. The adventure park offers a unique outdoor experience for anyone with energy to burn.
For the artistically inclined, the Escpacio Micus is a country house in the heart of the island that was converted to a gallery by German artist Eduard Micus. The architecture is wonderfully traditional and the changing exhibitions make it worth a visit every time.
If culture and heritage interest you then the Can Ros Ethnographic Museum in Santa Eulalia offers a deep insight into the unique architectural heritage of rural Ibiza. Housed in a 300-year-old farmhouse that is also a national heritage site, the building alone is well worth the trip.