By Susheela Nair
From a non-descript cluster of fishing hamlets and a busy trading post, Ibiza, has metamorphosed into Europeâ€™s favourite summer holiday destination. We discovered that the picturesque island, the third largest of the Balearic Islands in eastern Spain, has something for everyone. Its beaches, ravishing coastline, forts, heritage, rave parties, scenic charm, stunning sunsets, secluded hideaways, serene secret coves, swanky mansions, continue to lureâ€“ the bold and the beautiful, beachcombers and backpackers, Bollywood celebrities and LGBTs, heritage buffs and luxury yacht owners. Itâ€™s a magnet for artists, hedonists, big-name DJs, party lovers and fashionistas. Named after the Egyptian deity, Besâ€”the god of dance and music, and protector of the living and the dead, the early Phoenician settlers, who worshipped him, named the island Ibossim, which became Eivissa or Ibiza.
A panoramic view of Ibiza town
Tourists come here in hordes to enjoy the days to the full, and savour the nights to the last drop. Sunset watching is a popular activity here. The picturesque beaches of Benniras and the "sunset strip" of San Antoni are great places to bask in the incredible sunsets. As the sun sank into the horizon, we heard hippie bongo players bringing rhythmic drumming to the end of the day and a round of applause from all who have gathered to witness the event.
With its all-night rave parties, mega bars and clubs, Ibiza is the clubbing capital of the world. It bursts with the exuberance of raucous rockers and hard core party goers jostling for space on a laser thrashed dance floor. You can discover the magic of night-time in Amnesia, the worldâ€™s best discotheque; Privilege, the biggest , and the prettiest, Es Paradis and other trendy nightclubs and party till the wee hours of the morning. Youâ€™ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting venue.
Ibizaâ€™s other claim to fame is that is the planetâ€™s most celebrated LGTB destination. Itâ€™s also the first place where Es Cavallet, the worldâ€™s first gay beach came into being. At several nightclubs in Ibiza, the LGBT community has its dedicated places including bars and hangouts, to celebrate its sexual preferences. Ibiza exudes a gay friendly ambience and a spirit that pervades the entire island and highlights a society that is friendly, welcoming and free of prejudice.
The fort in Dalt Vila or the Old Town of Ibiza
The legendary, Hippy Market at Las Dalias is a must-stop on the itinerary of shopaholics. The colourful market flaunts an atmospheric sprawl of stalls peddling bohemian clothes, exotic footwear, silver jewellery to hand-embroidered cushion covers, exquisitely crafted souvenirs, leather bags and boots. It all harks back to the Swinging Sixties when hippies flooded the island. The colourful â€˜Flower powerâ€™ posters discernible all over Ibiza reminded us of the hippie movement of the 1960s.
The legendary Hippy Market at Las Dalias
Ibiza is much more than just beaches, sunshine and partying. The island is full of historic sites dedicated to its vibrant past and incredible natural parks representing its grand biodiversity. For heritage buffs there is the Dalt Vila or the Old Town of Ibiza, comprising a labyrinth of cobbled lanes, an imposing fortress and a cathedral, with an entrance across a drawbridge and seven pentagonal bastions named after saints. The pinnacle of Dalt Vila is the 13th-century cathedral, built on the site of a Roman temple that later became a mosque. As a result, inside the fortified walls of this world heritage site you will find a melange of architecture styles. The salt pans or the mounts of â€˜white goldâ€™ spanning over 1,000 acres are worth a visit. Currently it has been accorded a Natural Park status because of their unique ecosystems that harbour storks, flamingos and other water birds.
All photographs by Susheela Nair
Susheela Nair is a Bengaluru-based Independent Food, Travel Writer & Photographer.