It is without doubt that Ibiza is one of the most famous cities in the Balearic Islands for its spectacular clubbing scene, foodie credentials and luxury accommodation. However, you will discover that there is far more to Ibiza when you journey past the white washed walls and disco lights and discover the natural world that lies beyond. Ibiza boasts two world-class nature reserves, each adorned with flora, fauna, landscapes and wildlife that will take your breath away. Here you’ll find mysterious caves, ancient monuments, folklore, almond groves and olives trees, crystal clear waters and rugged rock formations and the homes of a cornucopia of birds and beasts.
The es Vedrà und es Vedranell and the rocky islands of Poniente Nature Reserve
Set to the south west of the island, in the municipality Sant Josep de sa Talaia, you’ll find the nature reserve of es Vedrà und es Vedranell and the rocky islands of Poniente Nature Reserve. As one of the island’s most spectacular attractions, the reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is surrounded by unspoiled beaches, cliffs and a horizon of rocky islands that make this place unique. If the sea, nature and their surroundings are your passion, then es Vedrà und es Vedranell and the rocky islands of Poniente Nature Reserve is your go-to place to leave your cares behind, take time out and just be at one with nature on holiday.
Es Vedra is a small island that reaches almost 400m high, made of limestone and set like a beacon within the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounded by legends and mystery, it is thought to be the tip of the sunken city of Atlantis and the home of Homer’s wailing sirens who lured sailors to their peril.
Es Vedra is also the setting for one of Ibiza’s popular fables. Es Gegant des Vedrà or The Giant of Es Vedra is the story of two brothers who, set about curing their father of an incurable illness. They venture to the Es Vedrà island together to find rock samphire and, once there, come across a huge giant living upon the island, huddled in a rugged cave. The two brothers are cunning and, together with the assistance of sea urchins, manage to debilitate the giant and succeed in collecting the samphire for the cure.
Throughout the years, the island’s only habitant was a monk who took residence in the mid 19th century, in order to escape the rest of the world. Aside from reportings of UFOs and other fantastical sightings, you’ll find only animals amongst the slopes and island caves. Wild goats roam, Ibizan wall lizards dart from rock to rock and an endangered species of falcons call it their home.
Part of the reserve and the highest point in Ibiza, Sa Talaiassa stands tall at 473 metres high and is rich with lush vegetation and rare animal inhabitants. The peak is reachable by foot, or for the less active enthusiast, by car. Whether by foot or wheels, once you arrive, you will thank your lucky stars you made the journey. The views are simply spectacular and when the weather allows it, you can see right over to mainland Spain and Mallorca. It’s no wonder that the name translates to ‘Watchtower’.
Natural Park of Ses Salines
Take a trip to the south of the island and you’ll find Ibiza’s second natural park of Ses Salines.
The Ses Salines d’Eivissa i Formentera Natural Park is located between the two islands of Ibiza and Formentera, comprising the southern area of the Ibiza, the north of Formentera and the sea that separates them. Throughout history this area has seen much salt production activity and over the years this has formed a unique landscape where countless species of birds come to nest, historical and cultural landmarks create spectacular points of interest and marine life thrives. The reserve covers 3000 hectares of land and 13,000 marine hectares and the seabeds are home to 220 different species of marine sea life. If you venture to the extreme coastlines of the park, you’ll find an idyllic setting where marine and coastal eco-systems exist in delicate harmony.
Three quarters of the park is made up of marine seascapes, characterised by the existence of the oceanic Posidonia, an area of major marine ecological importance. The existence of this plant creates the supreme clarity of the area’s waters as well as serving as a protected area for a vast range of marine species. The Posidonia also plays a large part in protecting the beaches of Ibiza from wave erosion and in 1999 the site was declared well territory by UNESCO.
Back on land the nature park is home to an impressive array of plant species; in fact it includes almost all of the plant species found on the Pityusic Islands. On the island of Formentera you’ll find coastal pine and juniper groves scattered throughout the park area as well as lush vegetation surrounding lagoons, cliffs and both mobile and semi mobile dunes. It is this dramatic terrain and spectacular landscapes that keep tourists flocking to witness the beauty of the park and the nature that lies within.
Within the park, you’ll find over two hundred species of birds, with waterfowl and seabirds playing a major role. It’s a paradise for bird watchers, with flamingos, the common stork, the white jar, and the black-legged plover taking residence, along with seabirds such as the Audouin’s gull and the Balearic shearwater. Estany Pudent is home to one of the highest concentrations of black-necked grebes in Europe.
Other famous residents include the Pityusic lizard (Podarcis pityusensis), endemic to these islands and with different subspecies on the islets, with characteristics that include the whole possible range of colours from brown to blue. The lizards of Formentera are hardy creatures and live on some of the driest and harshest environments for life. The humble garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) can also be found creeping amongst the wild vegetation, as well as various species of snails and beetles, also endemic to the island.