Ibiza may have more of a reputation as a clubbing hotspot than a cruise destination, but there is far more to the third largest of the Balearic islands than meets the eye.
Ibiza’s history stretches back more than 3,000 years; the atmospheric capital, Eivissa, or Ibiza Town, is one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean. The island has always been a hub for creativity and mysticism which, along with an extraordinary beauty of craggy, pine-forested mountains, a profusion of olive and almond trees and a necklace of hidden coves, is probably why Ibiza was always a fixture on the hippy trail. Nowadays, though, hipsters have taken over from the hippies.
Ships anchor off Eivissa, or Ibiza Town (the capital), or tie up alongside if they are small enough. While you could book a walking tour, it is fun to explore independently, which gives you more time to poke around in the quirky shops and galleries. Dalt Vila, which means ‘upper town’ in Eivissenc, the local dialect, is a steep tangle of narrow stone streets encircled by chunky 16th Century fortifications protecting a solid-looking cathedral. The archaeological museum near here takes you back through Islamic, Roman, Punic and prehistoric times – and is particularly interesting as many digs are still going on around the island.
The capital aside, popular activities include boat trips, yoga, watersports or tours to the hippy market at Es Canar (which is fun, though no longer anything to do with authentic hippies). The easiest way to get to the beaches is by ferry; Talamanca, Figueretas, the busy Playa d’en Bossa and super-cool Las Salinas are all close to the capital. If you have time, hop over to sleepy Formentera, where the water is a shade of aquamarine that ought to belong in the tropics.
If your ship sails late, stay ashore for the evening. The tangle of streets around the harbour and the old town transforms at sunset into a hippy market and a catwalk for street performers, stilt walkers, club promoters and beautiful people in general. The parade ends in Calle de la Virgen, the gay area. Take a ringside seat, keep an open mind and enjoy the spectacle.