Despite having some of the best natural beaches in the mediterranean sea, with white sand and water that dazzles with perfect clarity, mild climate along the year, great mediterranean food and being just 2 hours by plane (plus 30 min by boat) from the main european capitals, Formentera remains an unexploited paradise in the mediterranean sea.
This little, peaceful and hippie spanish island, together with it’s sister Menorca, hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years… specially if you compare it with it’s other balearic sisters Ibiza or Mallorca. In fact, even in August, when the island is packed of tourists, you can still enjoy it by avoiding the popular places and finding your spot at a hidden beach and watching amazing sunsets just by yourself.
I have just returned from a long week in Formentera (my forth summer so far) and I still discover amazing places that exceed my expectations. These are some of the places I like the most:
Formentera is about exploring and discovering the beach that suits your needs. You have plenty of options: from the long and sandy to the tiny rocky spots just for you and your couple. These are my suggestions:
- Ses Illetes and Levante beaches
Part of the Natural Park of Ses Salines (a World Heritage Site by Unesco) you will find a wild narrow piece of land with beaches on both sides (some people choose sides depending on the wind). The northern you get, the less people you’ll find. In august it is full of celebrities and some of the most amazing yachts you will ever see. Unless you get there by boat, the entrance fee is 2€ per scooter and 5€ per car. There is no infrastructure here apart from a series of wood-built beachside restaurants called “Chiringuitos”. I’d suggest “Tanga” for having the best value for money (35€pax, with great paella and seafood). “Juan y Andrea” is definitely the place to spot celebrities (70€pax) and “El Tiburón” to enjoy the best sunset. If you enjoy walking and swimming, try crossing to the private island S’Espalmador (ten minutes walk with water up to your neck + 30 min walk along the park to get to the strait from the nearest parking lot) or take a shuttle boat (20€ round ticket per pax).
- Mitjorn beach
Along the south coast of the island, Migjorn combines long sandy beaches with wild and rocky spots of bright green water, ideal for the lonely and nudists that prefer to be accompanied by a good book. In both cases, it is a great option if you travel with kids as it doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you are far from the shore. Along the beach you will find great “chiringuitos” such as: Blue Bar (good food and good music) and the tiny “Lucky” and “Piratabus” (both always packed, relax and fun, perfect for sunsets).
- Other beaches
Try Cala Saona (Carved into a cliff) and Es Caló (tiny fisherman’s town with wonderful micro beaches a couple hundred meters to the west)
As I have suggested before, Formentera is also about discovering and enjoying your own unforgettable sunsets, free shows repeated day by day, and each time in a different way… These are some tips:
- Lighthouse at Cap de Barbaria: I do not know what is more beautiful: the lighthouse or the road that leads to it. Lunar landscape crowned by a lighthouse that rises in the middle of nowhere. One of the most magical places in the world.
- El Mirador: best views of the island while you enjoy the sunset and a good drink
- Punta de sa Pedrera: if you like to trek, this is one of the wildest places in the island. It offers magnificent views of the rugged coastline and Ibiza
- Chiringuitos and Restaurants: as I’ve said before, try out Lucky, Tiburón, PirataBus, Chez Gerdi, Café del Lago…
The hippie phenomenon was introduced on the island back in the 60s and it still remains part of daily life: traditional craft markets, naturist culture, devotion to the sunset, Flower Power parties… The most important of all takes place in Sant Francesc central square every month of July were thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, dress with the hippie style and dance to the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s in a Plaça fully decorated with spectacular psychedelic projections on the church’s white wall. This party features DJ Pharma (Pep Lluis, the pharmacist of the neighbour town Sant Ferran), an institution on the island, that “gives everything” on the stage.
The artisans’ market of El Pilar de la Mola is the king of the hippy markets on the island, and the one cultural event for which the whole of Formentera – hippies, locals, Italians and the rest of the tourists – turns up to watch. It has a seriousness and quality that is surprising, and is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.
These are my top five restaurants:
- Macondo: probably the best pizza in… the world! Full of locals and Italians
- Fonda Pepe: An institution in the island. Full of locals. Mediterranean food + seafood
- Can Carlos: Probably the most elegant restaurant in the island
- Chez Gerdy: great decoration, great spot, great service and nice sunset
- Can Carol: small familiar restaurant that openned in June 2013 in La Mola, good price, worth a try when you visit the artisan’s market
- Aigua: my friend Sara suggests this Japanese restaurant at the port. The best views are at the right side
Where to stay
In Formentera I have always stayed at Casa Serena, a physical and spiritual oasis. Located in the best part of Formentera (five minute walk from Mitjorn beach), Casa Serena hosts couples and groups looking for peace a quiet. Their breakfast (with home made bakery) is just perfect. Yo can book one of the 5 rooms… or the entire house for you and your family/friends. Here you will find more info about rooms and rates.
One final tip: rent a scooter to move around the island. In Formentera there are no traffic lights. You can also rent a bicycle, but you have to be in a good shape
Photos by Pedro Sagüés
Click on images to enlarge