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Travel diary
Although Ibiza is famous
for its clubbing scene and
celebrity sightings, Suzan
Crane discovers more than
meets the eye

              iddy berths his yacht
              in Ibiza town during his
              frequent forays here.
              Kylie Minogue, Elle
   MacPherson and the ubiquitous
   Paris Hilton are oft-seen visitors
   while jewellery designer and Rolling
                                           “Gomorrah of the Med”.
                                                                  I biza
                                           coexist on an island whose liberal
                                           attitudes and legendary club scene
                                           have earned it the nickname

                                             An idyllic retreat for solitude-
                                           seeking artists and actors in the
                                           1950s, Ibiza was a fashionable
                                                                                 line the calles of Santa Eularia
                                                                                 des Riu and Sant Antoni de
                                                                                 Portmany, and designer
                                                                                 shops exist alongside trendy
                                                                                 boutiques. With over a million
                                                                                 visitors annually, Ibiza happily caters
                                                                                 to bulk tourism with high season
                                                                                                                                         World Heritage sites,
                                                                                                                                        undisturbed pine-
                                                                                                                                  covered interior, quaint
                                                                                                                                Mediterranean villages
                                                                                                                           and historic architecture dating
                                                                                                                           back thousands of years to the
                                                                                                                           Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and
   Stones offspring Jade Jagger is a       hideaway until the advent of          charter flights depositing hordes         Catalans.
   long-term resident. Pike’s Hotel,       jet propulsion allowed for easier     of revellers onto its once hallowed           To best experience it all,
   one of the island’s most exclusive,     access. By the ’60s, the island’s     grounds.                                  avoid the peak summer months
   is wallpapered with celebrity           scenic splendour, laidback vibe           But Ibiza (or Eivissa in Catalan,     when most Europeans take their
   images: Jon Bon Jovi, Sade,             and spiritual mystique served as a    from the original Arabic word             vacations – unless of course you
   Freddie Mercury, Naomi Campbell,        call for hippies and other bohemian   Yabisah, so called in medieval            want to be in the thick of things,
   Jean-Claude Van Damme…. A               types and for many years remained     Spain when parts of the Iberian           literally. If you arrive in August, as I
   virtual ‘who’s who’ in the lexicon      an alternative lifestyle enclave.     peninsula were under Muslim rule)         did, expect grid-locked beaches,
   of the rich, famous and infamous        By the ’80s, however, dance           – one of the Balearic Islands along       inflated prices and drunken
   makes the Spanish isle of Ibiza a       clubs began to define Ibizan          with Formentera, Mallorca and             marauders, particularly in the
   requisite stop on their jetsetting      culture, and that raucous party       Menorca where human habitation            British ghetto of Sant Antoni, which
   itineraries while battalions of other   reputation remains – for better       dates back to at least 5000 BCE – is      features in its centre the famous
   less-notorious tourists bombard this    or worse – the island’s identifying   much more than its fabled clubs,          Egg monument erected in honour
   Mediterranean haven during the          characteristic. These days, a         all-night raves and fast food joints.     of Christopher Columbus, who,
   peak summer months.                     plethora of guesthouses and           Boasting a rich history, textured         according to islanders, was born
       Perhaps the party capital of        seasonal apartment complexes          culture and natural beauty, it has        in Ibiza. And while it is difficult at
   the world – or, at the very least,      are peppered amidst expensive         plenty to offer those who prefer to       this time of year to find a secluded
   the undisputed party capital of         resorts and exclusive boutique        retire before the sun rises and wake      beach (despite the fact that
   Europe – Ibiza is where celebrities     hotels; McDonald’s and Pizza Hut      before it sets, who visit the island      more than 70 are tucked around
   and hedonists, ravers and package       share prime real estate with fine     not for celebrity sightings but for       the island), it is possible to ferret
   tourists, nudists and fashion victims   dining establishments, English pubs   its celebrated beaches, UNESCO            out an isolated rocky cove along

                                        the jewelled, turquoise coastline          island’s many and varied beaches        buses ferry throngs of partygoers to   over-crowding, over-development
                                        or a quiet café in one of the              (or calas), as well as Placa de la      such internationally famed clubs       and crass commercialism that
                                        less trafficked, nostalgic villages        Vila, the cobble-stoned old quarter,    as Privilege (the world’s largest      delineates peak season, I found
                                        scattered throughout the island’s          museums of charming Ibiza town          nightclub), Pacha, Amnesia, Es         it challenging to experience the
                                        unmarred interior.                         and the Wednesday and Saturday          Paradis and Space. For a 50 or 60      “magic”. I often wondered what
                                          Further, while the inter-island          “hippie markets” at Es Canar and        euro (JD45-55) price tag, one gains    the island must have looked and
                                        bus lines are efficient, renting           Las Dalias, where prices are nothing    entry into a parallel party universe   felt like before concrete replaced
                                        a car allows for autonomous                but traveller-on-a-budget friendly.     where dancers are swathed in           the palms and marvelled at the
                                        exploration of Ibiza’s many natural        For a more authentic “hippie”           foam emitted from cannons,             thought that only 12 cars existed
                                        and archaeological wonders,                experience, hightail it to Sunday       swimming pools transform into          here in 1956.
                                        including the famous prehistoric           sunsets at Benirras, where, when        aquatic dance floors and dry ice         “Wait until September,” they
                                        wall paintings of Ses Fontelles, the       the police don’t stop them, “gypsy”     machines assault revellers with        urged every time I threatened to
                                        underground caverns of Cova                vendors sell their wares on the         sudden rushes of frigid air. Fuelled   leave. “Tourism wanes and the
                                        de Can Marca, and Es Vedra, a              beach while the primal rhythms of       by the provocative trance and          sanctity of the island returns,” they
                                        400-metre-high island composed             drum beats permeate the wafting         house sounds proffered by the          insisted. And you can actually rent
                                        solely of cliffs with almost vertical      sea breeze.                             world’s top DJs, it is full throttle   a car for less than 55 euros (JD50)
                                        sides. Referred to by locals as “The         But despite Ibiza’s abundant          hedonism, part theatre, part           a day! The climate is still perfect
                                        Rock”, Es Vedra is widely believed         natural attributes, for many, night     circus. So famous is the electronic    and the beaches are again visible
                                        to possess magnetic properties and         time is the right time, and for them    music scene here that, similar to      to the naked eye, no longer
                                        spiritual significance. But the most       the island’s inimitable club scene is   Goa trance being coined for the        carpeted by overcrowded sun
                                        enigmatic and fabled place Ibiza is        the big draw. With the action never     scene in India, an entire sub-genre,   worshippers. The locals are more
                                        Atlantis, the unmarked, unmapped           beginning before midnight and           Balearic Beat, has been named for      relaxed, the traffic abates and
                                        location which is often difficult to       rarely ending before dawn, disco        the experimental trance created        the magic… prevails. So I waited.
                                        garner as residents are reticent to
                                        share their secret with tourists. If you
                                        are lucky enough to find Atlantis,
                                        you’ll marvel at the extraordinary
                                        landscape created over 1,000
                                        years ago when rock was quarried
                                        to build the fortress walls of Ibiza
                                        town. Over subsequent centuries,
                                        other stonemasons and sculptors
                                        have created people seemingly
                                        emerging from within the rocks,
                                        dragons and other symbolic
                                        features surrounded by stalactites
                                        and stalagmites
                                          Although the tangled web of
                                        roads is a mess – under constant
                                        construction with an ever-growing
                                        series of confusing turnabouts
                                        which provoke debate and
                                        consternation amongst locals
                                        – a vehicle will let you explore the

                                                                                                                           and recorded on the island.            And it was true to a degree. Ibiza
                                                                                                                           But lest we erroneously assume         seemed to decompress, literally, as
                                                                                                                           that electronic music holds an         each day more and more people
                                                                                                                           unrivalled monopoly, note that         boarded planes headed for
                                                                                                                           British artist Mike Oldfield devised   home, work and their real lives.
                                                                                                                           some of his most evocative               On my last day, a friend took

                                                                                                                           instrumental pieces while living       me to a small, isolated beach
                                                                                                                           on Ibiza and Wham!, George             where only a naked couple and
                                                                                                                           Michael’s pre-solo career multi-       their naked young child frolicked in
                                                                                                                           platinum duo filmed their Club         the calm, warm waters. Later that
                                                                                                                           Tropicana video at Pike’s Hotel.       same day I met an island native
                                                                                                                               According to my insistent          who generously invited me to
                                                                                                                           friends who have planted roots         the hillside home in which he was
                                                                                                                           here, Ibiza is magical, possessing     born, a sanctuary really, to shower
                                                                                                                           a powerful energy that suffuses        before my midnight flight. Sitting
                                                                                                                           and infuses the island. “It will       on his porch, which offered an
                                                                                                                           either embrace or reject you,”         unobstructed view of the glistening
                                                                                                                           I was told upon arrival. I must        Mediterranean below – peaceful
                                                                                                                           admit, though, that amid the           and quiet – I finally felt the magic.


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