The ‘White Island’ has a well-earned reputation for being the ultimate party destination, with hedonistic tourists and serious music lovers flocking there every summer for decades. But amongst the throng of the party people, it’s easy to overlook the history and culture soaked into the fabric of the island’s buildings and beaches. Ibiza has a well kept secret; it is riddled with idyllic quiet corners, and in reality, as long as you avoid staying in Ibiza Town or San Antonio, you’ll succeed in escaping the madding crowds and finding your own calm and alluring slice of the island, discover the rich tapestry that is the island’s colourful history and find your own personal paradise.
Travel back in time a handful of decades and Ibiza was a true escapist paradise. Wild, natural unspoilt and full of special magic. During the swinging sixties, hippies settled on the island that had already enjoyed decades of writers, painters, bohemians and other artists working and enjoying life on Eivissa. Hollywood stars came to escape and search for privacy and this Mediterranean island that shines with creativity eventually became an important music Mecca. The ‘flower power’ revolution bought with it a whole plethora of rock stars, lured by the friendly, open-minded, easy, laid-back vibe, unspoilt beauty and the sun which shines for 60% of the year. Ibiza was the island the place for those ‘in the know’.
When the tourism boom in the 1970s reached the white isle, cheaper travel came hand in hand, as well as newly built accommodation. With the influx of finance that tourism brought upon the isle, discos started to make their appearance. These define the history of recent times. Pacha quickly became the mecca of Ibiza nightlife when it opened in 1973. The end of the 70s brought Wham! to shoot ‘Club Tropicana’ and a whole new generation of young British holiday makers followed. To cater for all types of European taste, the soundtrack was wide and eclectic. The Balearic musical spirit was born. This wasn’t missed a years later by visiting UK DJs Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway who promptly took the attitude back to London. The early 90s saw this osmosis all come together. As European holiday makers came en masse, large clubs such as Amnesia and Ku Club easily filled to cater for this massive tourist industry. The word and reputation of these ‘super clubs’ quickly spread attracting the fashionable, rich and famous to experience the magic of Ibiza’s amazing nightlife.
Change was in the air, however. Change that would see the face of tourism change forever. Increasing prices and government regulations mounting all led to shifts in the dynamic of the island and true party clubbers started venturing to such alternative destinations as Malta and Croatia. The legendary but now closed forever super club Space most definitely represented the old days of freewheeling’ clubbing. The open roof, jets flying over to a screaming dancefloor, in parallel to a relaxed yet hedonistic vibe are scribed into history.
However, the wild spirit of Ibiza ever continues. It has simply evolved with time. The parties may be smaller than the superclub, but they are every bit as hedonistic as the spirit of the ‘wild days’.
Ibiza is a safe and accepting place. Anyone, no matter their age can come and enjoy. Party people – young and old arrive in droves over the summer and are swept up in the party culture. The beaches are plentiful and cater for all. Some are quiet, some a constant daytime party soundtracking the day, even nudists have their open places. Of course, the beaches wouldn’t be an experience without the beach restaurant.
Today, with climate change being undeniable, tourism in Ibiza is evolving and has become redivide. Luxury travel now isn’t just about opulence and hedonism, it is the ability to explore the world, safe in the knowledge you are doing so in a sustainable and ethical fashion. Sustainable tourism management ensures visitors are able to respect the island’s environment and support local development.
Eco-tourism plays a huge role on the island, with environmental concerns shaping and pathing the way into the future. On an island of such excess, everyone from club owners to hoteliers, shopkeepers, DJs and villa owners are looking at ways of adjusting their offering to allow for a more sustainable future. There is almost a state of urgency about it all, with innovative answers being sought to protect Mother Nature, the most important lady of the White Isle. We have already witnessed a push for greener public transport, improvements on waste management, especially one-time-use plastics and an all important battle against oil explorations continues as ever. Many local environmental and tourist groups like Love Ibiza, Ibiza Limpia, and The Nature Project also sponsor beach clean-ups.
Businesses, realising that the usual tourism spots are now bursting at the seems, have looked to set up off the beaten track, and so began the rise of Agrotourism. If we travelled back a decade, you would be pushed to find an agroturismos; an Italian word that refers to a working farm that rents out some of its rooms. Today, Ibiza has become world renowned for its huge influx of rustic yet luxurious traditional accommodation, where guests can stay in field and woodland settings and feast upon local produce, safe in the knowledge their green credentials are sustained.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that off the beaten track means remote. Ibiza is a small island at 20km by 50km and so the path less trodden is only ever a hop, skip and perhaps a taxi ride away from the infamous clubs, restaurants and beaches. The ultimate pull is that visitors to the new rustic establishments get the perfect blend of nature, peace, hedonism and wild antics that are synonymous with Ibiza.
With the tourist season expanding to welcome visitors much earlier in the year and holding on to them way past the time the sun sets on the average holiday season, Ibiza is now a year round destination. March and October are becoming the new must-visit dates, with tourists lured over by reduced prices, less crowding and yet a perfect average forecast of 24-27C.
Ibiza and the island’s visitors are ever-evolving. What hasn’t changed is Ibiza’s magical concoction of magnetic traits that promise her visitors hypnotic sunsets, beach scenes, crystal clear waters, and of course, parties from dusk to dawn.