Formentera is a darling of an isle which, fortuitously, does not have the fame of Ibiza who sits protectively above her like mother hen upon her sole egg. The pair are separated by a half-hour sea crossing, performed by public ferries and royal yachts alike. Formentera, six times smaller than Ibiza in square metres, is very different to her motherland in character whilst clearly sharing her genes. She is best visited either on the cusp of spring or as summer is bowing out. Here we’ve planned the perfect ‘long weekend’ as an introduction to relaxation on the Balearics.
© Inspiration Ibiza
Fly to Ibiza (50 mins from Barcelona) and schedule in a stroll around the unspoilt capital. Ferry crossings between Ibiza port and Formentera take just 30 minutes and run between 6 and 12 times daily during the April to October season. There are a few options but Baleària will serve you just as well, if not better, than the rest. If you’re a keen sailor, rent your own small vessel and enjoy the freedom of anchoring up at the designated buoys which are in place between 1 June and 30 September.
Situated on the south coast, Las Dunas Playa offers various sizes of apartment which sit in harmony with the rolling white dunes dotted with pine bushes, juniper, rosemary and rock roses. There is a small but seductive infinity pool at the main ranch, where you can also eat very well in the bar-restaurant. It is family run by laid-back, supremely helpful island locals. For hotel seekers, Gecko Beach Club is a favourite boutique option on the same stretch – Migjorn beach. Here, you should know they take their yoga as seriously as they do their cuisine.
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Have breakfast and rent a Vespa from reception. Your mission is Playa de Illetes, at the finger-pointing north of the island. Make a pit-stop in the wonderfully easy-on-the eye “capital village” of Sant Francesc which sits in the island’s bosom.
Playa de Illetes is among that sub-set of beaches that people have been bold enough to label the best in the world. Reasons for this are easy to find; the sea water is unlawfully transparent, the sand whiter and finer than the best on the Indian Ocean and there are a couple of really quite lovely places to eat, drink and be merry at either end of the long zig-zagged stretch.
Gecko Beach Club
You should lunch at Juan and Andrea’s (“since 1971”) because it’s a rite of passage and because, for a top-notch bar-resto, it’s unpretentious. Command lobster, caviar or a good-old seafood spaghetti. Those who explore Formentera by private boat can moor up fifty metres from the shore and with a quick phone call ahead, the restaurant’s speed boats will shuttle punters to the sand. Tips of ten euros per person upwards are the norm for this convenience.
Juan y Andrea
Pack a picnic and take a short walk east along Migjorn beach in a pair of shoes that surpass flip-flops (there will be some minor clambering over rock) until Google Maps tells you you’ve arrived at Caló des Mort. This collection of coves is wonderfully private with the exception of its ashen, wooden fishing-boat sheds, considered part of the islands’ heritage and protected as such. Spend sunset at Faro de la Mola, the lighthouse around the corner, which was the inspiration for a section of Jules Verne’s novel Hector Servadac.
Dinner will be a triumph at Can Dani (“Danny’s Gaff” if liberally translated from the Catalan), which is 10kms inland. This coveted restaurant was the first to gain a Michelin star in the Pityusic islands (that is: Ibiza, Formentera and a scattering of other tinier islets as an ensemble). Perhaps for starters, choose the Langoustine carpaccio, with vermouth, mango, lime and pistachio salt. To follow, how about one of their infamous 600g cuts of beef?
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Time your visit to involve a Wednesday or Sunday afternoon and you can nose around the excellent artisans market near El Pilar de la Mola. Back on Mitjorn beach, locate Piratabus beach shack on the eleventh kilometer of the sand. Prop yourself up on a straw stool and get involved with a beef wrap with lashings of guacamole, ‘80s R&B tunes busting their groove into the sea air.
Juan y Andrea