[All Photos: Kim Easton Smith]
There’s something magical about landing in Ibiza, whatever you’re there for. The heat radiating off sand-coloured Mediterranean buildings, the sea glittering, the scents of holiday - suncream, seaside, tapas, and the murmur of all the people so happy to be there.
And of course, those Balearic beats, right?
Well not necessarily. You’ve probably heard Ibiza-fans insisting that there are two sides to the island - one clubbing, the other family, and never the twain shall meet. But if you’ve only ever seen the island as a party destination, we’ve got a public service announcement for you: It’s got a whole lot more to it than that.
And to find out more, we headed out on Topdeck Travel’s newest sailing trip, around Ibiza and neighbouring island Formentera.
Fun, young and relaxed. Groups of friends, couples and individuals all mix up together and you can choose whether to head out on off-boat trips or stay on board and soak up the sea.
The INSTAGRAM SHOT
Ibiza By Boat As a water baby, the entire premise of the trip did it for me almost before I even arrived. Being on the open water is natural calming, and the seas around Ibiza are stunning, swimming-pool turquoise, and a damn sight cleaner than your local lido.
It’s a wonderful way to view the island, visiting pretty little coves and bays you’d otherwise miss, and getting the chance to swim in deserted spots before the other tourists arrive.
Though I’ve been sailing before (read: sat on the deck and sunbathed while others manned the ropes), you don’t need any prior experience at all.
In fact, the hard work is done for you - our skipper Juan was a multi-tasking wonder-sailor, who steered the huge yacht with expert precision and was happy to satisfy our every whim, from taking us out on the dinghy to visit shores, to picking up those who fancied at least one trip to the famous clubs in the wee hours.
Every trip is lead by a team leader who feeds, cleans up, entertains, and organises everyone. Ours, Hannah, managed to do all that while making it look totally fun and effortless too.
I particularly enjoyed not having to plan - being taken to beautiful places, great restaurants and offered activities I could take or leave. It works wonders for de-stressing and pulling you out of your ordinary life.
The Peace If your only view of Ibiza is San Antonio, Brits going bonkers abroad, and excess in everything from cheap shots to sunburn, you need to shake that out of your brain right now. From the water, Ibiza is a jewel in the med, complete with delicious foods (it’s teetering on a foodie revolution right now - more on that later!)
The Cabins Boat-rooms beat hotel-rooms a million times over. They’re cosier and come with the sound of the sea lapping next to your head. Absolute bliss. I could have lived in mine forever.
Kayaking Short day or half day trips are on offer from Topdeck, including things like cycling around Formentera, walks on rocky outcrops you’d definitely never find on your own, and my favourite, sea kayaking.
It’s the perfect way to see the serene side of the islands, and marvel at how ridiculously perfect the waters are and paddle out to swimming bays for a pitstop.
The Food I mentioned Ibiza is on its way up in foodie circles, and I can definitely attest to that. Take recommendations from your team leader and skipper, order local (ideally seafood) options for the freshest and most expert cooking and definitely try some Ibizan balls (they’re lush!).
If you have any free time in Ibiza Old Town, go for lunch at Restaurante Formentera, and order the Bullit de peix - a traditional Ibizan fish stew. Its bright yellow colour comes from the saffron and the taste is lighter, creamier and more delicate than French Bouillabaisse.
Sea Sickness Topdeck have done everything possible to create a comfortable, safe, relaxing and exciting sailing trip, but of course, you are still on the seas so make sure you bring anti-sea-sickness pills for occasional turbulence. And if you’re feeling bad get up on deck and look out at the horizon.
I only felt queasy on one short voyage and I have to admit, that could also have been to do with rather a lot of Rioja the night before.
Group Whims Because it is such a relaxed vibe, you’ll need to go with the flow. Not everyone will be ready to leave the boat on time, others will nap at odd times and some will hardly even get in the water (weirdos!). Be prepared for itineraries to change and to be a bit late. This is Spain after all!
And don’t forget, fun, company, adventures and friends for life will more than make up for the odd frustration.
For the first time ever, I left Ibiza in a far better state than I had arrived. The party island will always be a brilliant destination to go clubbing, to dance the night away and to throw caution to the wind. But from now on, every time I go, I’m going to recover with a wee sailing trip before heading home. I’d recommend you do the same.
Summer sails are still available for this year - prices start from £616, find out more at Topdeck.