If you spend any length of time in Barcelona, someone will tell you that you absolutely must visit Formentera. Apparently the beaches are out of this world, they say. Barcelona doesn’t seem too shabby on that front, you tend to feel. But when you eventually arrive on this little island dangling off Ibiza, you quickly realise that it might well be the most fabulous island paradise you’ve ever been to. And you start to spread the word yourself.
Ibiza itself has two sides: party mania and utter relax. Formentera, with its population of just ten-thousand lucky bods, really just has the latter.
If you go off-season (September/October or April/May, say), not only do you avoid the crowds and still get temperatures in the mid 20s minimum, but as the breeze picks up a dash you also get to truly sense the wildness: white dunes dotted with pine bushes, juniper, rosemary and rock roses… You shouldn’t choose winter to visit Formentera if you are expecting Ibiza style partying. But that was never was Ibiza’s little sister’s claim. Understated natural charm is more the vibe.
In addition to residents who do not leave the island, tourists after September are largely those who own a house. It is a great time, in fact, to rent a villa on the island as some hotels do shut up shop and you can be sure to satisfy your own needs. Many have spectacular pools and there is extreme luxury to be found self-catering on Formentera, as is the case in Ibiza.
It's perfectly normal to swim in these idyllic seas — as clear as fresh bath water — from April till November. The only thing that might stop you is the odd dramatic storm but then you can cosy up on one of the beach chiringuitos (beach bars), many of which open all year round if only at the weekend off season.
How To Get There
Formentera can only be reached via Ibiza — half an hour by ferry. Ferries run all year round although in May and September a different service kicks in so be sure to look closely. The ferries from Ibiza leave from Sant Antoni and Ibiza Town. Choose the latter, so you can have a walk around the charming capital before embarking. It’s only five minutes’ walk from where you embark.
Related: A Guide to San Sebastian
Where To Eat?
Juan and Andrea’s has, since the 1970s’ hippy heyday of the island, been an institution on Formentera. Wear white, order lobster and you’ll fit right in. But it’s all very chilled out and no need to dress up. Either enter by foot from the beach (it sits perched upon a dune) or moor up outside on your vessel and with a quick phone call ahead, the restaurant’s speed boats will shuttle punters to the sand. That’s the way the princes and filmstars here tend to play it. September and May are perfect months to come here to feel the energy but not be overwhelmed by the popularity of the place.
Formentera is famous for its lighthouses, each one with its claim to fame and consequent allure beyond its pure beauty. Faro de la Mola was the inspiration for a section of Jules Verne’s novel Hector Servadac. Then, lighthouse Barbaria became iconic in Spanish director Julio Medem’s film Lucia y el sexo — plus a bunch of adverts. It is also the southernmost light of the Balearic Islands. Also, make sure to swing by the modest white-washed, harmonious capital of Sant Francesc in the island’s centre.
Whether you’re at Las Dunas on the south, the wilder side though still with calm waters, or at the popular Las Salinas in the north, you will find crystal clear, turquoises swatches of the Med you never knew existed. In fact you’ll start to question every other beach paradise you’ve been to in the world when you set your eyes on the frost-white slithers of sand that comprise Formentera.