Slice of Ibiza | 

There is far more to the Spanish island than clubs and partying

It may be known for its nightlife, but there is (literally) another side to Ibiza — expect family fun and great food, writes Catherine Murphy
The stunning coast

The stunning coast

Catherine on a kayak tour

Catherine on a kayak tour

A suite in the Aguas de Ibiza

A suite in the Aguas de Ibiza

Catherine soaks up the sights on a cycling tour

Catherine soaks up the sights on a cycling tour

Pretty town square

Pretty town square

Catherine MurphySunday World

Having dived into its hedonistic clubbing scene, iconic singer Grace Jones once fondly labelled Ibiza an island of insanity.

Young holidaymakers still flock to the white island to soak up its party vibes. But there’s another Ibiza — one that offers a family-friendly getaway with adventure, outdoor activities and outstanding cuisine.

Despite its massive reputation, Ibiza is tiny — lots of attractions are within a twenty-minute drive, with a maximum distance of 50km between any two points.

Yet when you visit the port town of Santa Eulalia on the east coast of the island, it’s as if the west coast nightlife of San Antonio might not even exist. Santa Eulalia and its neighbouring villages offer a carefree Mediterranean way of life. It’s a rural idyll bursting with colour and fragrance, with lovely beaches, stylish boutique hotels and a more understated restaurant and nightlife scene.

Pretty town square

Pretty town square

White is traditionally considered the most stylish colour to wear on Ibiza (in fact, pretty much anything goes fashion-wise) but colour and aroma are everywhere. In the flowers, orange groves and pine trees you cycle past on country lanes, in the food you’re served and on the stalls of Las Dalias hippy market — a must-visit while staying in Santa Eulalia.

On this side of the island, you’re more likely to enjoy Ibiza’s glorious sunsets from a kayak, instead of posing at a Benirrás beach party. And the place to start your sea kayaking tour is Es Figueral beach.

An introductory lesson on how to paddle, turn and stop is all you need to join Paolo from Kayak-Ibiza on a kayak and snorkel tour that takes you towards the islet of Tagomago, in the island’s marine reserve.

Paddling past basalt rock and red cliffs is an easy but special kayaking experience, with calm Mediterranean waters allowing novices a sense of safety. Paolo carefully guides his groups, stopping off at a little cove to talk about the Neptune grass meadows, which filter and oxygenate Ibiza’s crystal clear waters.

Catherine on a kayak tour

Catherine on a kayak tour

On a tour that covers 7km and costs €45 per adult/€30 per child, you’ll paddle past Sa Caleta and Es Niu Blau beaches, take a snorkelling dip, and (if you’re lucky) paddle alongside dolphins. Ask Paolo about snorkelling next to Es Vedra — a landmark rock that’s considered to be sacred.

Santa Eulalia is home to luxury hotels like Can Curreu, a little piece of paradise that overlooks the town. Lunch here is a foodie treat with beetroot carpaccio, chipirones (little squid) with sobrasada spiced sausage and Iberico pork cheeks on the menu; all served with a crisp white wine from the

Can Rich winery — the only organic wine producer on the island. A haven of flowers and plants, Can Curreu offers an idyllic couple’s getaway or higher-end family holiday.

What this side of the island also has is the luxury of nature. So while others are placing towels on sun loungers at 8am, you can start your active day with a refreshing yoga session overlooking the ocean at the five-star Aguas de Ibiza Hotel & Spa.

A suite in the Aguas de Ibiza

A suite in the Aguas de Ibiza

With views of Santa Eulalia’s marina, Aguas de Ibiza is situated right next to a beach and also boasts a beautiful rooftop bar and restaurant, and impressive breakfast service.

Next, start your engines for an e-bike tour through Santa Eulalia’s countryside. Riding with Kandani Tours, their easiest route is suitable for everyone in the family with a 20km route past beaches, through forests and along quiet country roads.

Switching easily between eco, tour and turbo settings, and with lots of help from the bike’s battery, you’ll find short uphill and forest sections a breeze. Stop off for cold drinks with guide James at Cas Campaner cafe, then pedal the remainder of the route to the centre of Santa Eulalia for lunch at the family-run Ca Na Ribes.

In a gorgeous interior garden setting, the great-granddaughter of the original restaurant owner offers up one of its specialities — ray with saffron and almond sauce — with a humble smile. But there’s nothing humble about the dish. It’s absolutely delicious.

The east coast of Ibiza also offers a host of cultural activities, especially around local food and drink. Ibicencos still follow the old tradition of making their own Hierbas liqueur, and you can give it a go at Fluxà Ibiza with owner Juan Fluxà.

This activity is suitable for families, as children can help gather herbs in the distillery’s botanical garden. Typically, 17 herbs — including rosemary, thyme, camomile, oregano, lavender, fennel, lemon and orange peel — are bottled, and covered with sweet Anis. It’s a lovely way to spend a morning; topped off with Juan’s cafe caleta (made with brandy) and bunuelo cakes.

Catherine soaks up the sights on a cycling tour

Catherine soaks up the sights on a cycling tour

You get to take your own Hierbas home, where you should leave it for a couple of months before enjoying it as a post-dinner digestif.

Another lovely way to spend a morning is at the Can Muson ecological farm, where children can feed goats and wild boar while parents get their hands doughy in a flan-making class. Traditional Ibizan flaó is made with goat and sheep’s cheeses and mint, and making it in a group baking session is good fun.

Post-activity, there’s still time to explore Ibiza town and the Unesco World Heritage site of Dalt Vila, losing yourself in the beautiful narrow streets and laneways of the upper town. To understand the history of the island, take a tour of the city walls, bastions and fortifications.

The views towards the neighbouring island of Formentera are fantastic and you’ll learn about the founding of the city, and its reconquest from the Moors by the Catalans in the 13th century — a slice of history which explains why both Spanish and Catalan are spoken in Ibiza today.

One of the highlights is the amazing food, and a great place to enjoy it is Can Mussonet in San Rafael. Just a ten-minute drive from the airport, it’s a gourmet treat in a relaxed setting.

Owner Miguel Angel and his wife create inventive, playful dishes that are a joy to taste. They call it ‘open-minded traditional cuisine’ — you’ll call it close to Michelin star level, with dishes like red tuna tiradito and avocado carpaccio, with grated tomato and pomegranate immersing you in the wonderful colours and aromas of Ibiza.

FACTBOX: IBIZA See ibiza.travel

■ CATHERINE travelled to Ibiza courtesy of the Ibiza tourist board. For accommodation information, offers and options check out cancurreu.com and aguasdeibiza.com. ■ FOR bike rental see kandani.es; book a kayaking tour at kayak-ibiza.com; try yoga at daisyjaneyoga.com; and make your


Today's Headlines

More Travel

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices