It's easy to forget the environmental impact of tourism on Ibiza when you're chilling on one of its many beaches, surrounded by blue sky, clear water and beach bars that never, ever run dry.
But if you were – at least for a mid-holiday moment – perplexed by coming across trash in the sand or plastic bags in the sea, you're not alone. A growing number of businesses are working to become environmentally friendly, from plant-based restaurants to club nights raising money for eco-charities. And La Bella Verde, which runs solar-powered boat trips from Salinas beach to Formantera (and some other secret spots besides), has environmentalism at its core.
The company has a number of solar-powered catamarans that it uses to explore the coast of Ibiza and surrounding islands, promoting an eco-friendly approach to tourism that is ever more important in the face of the private yachts, planes and sheer footfall that the island is subject to every year. A trip on a La Bella Verde boat will take you to secluded spots using only wind or solar power, and might even include a picnic made from organic ingredients grown on a farm that's associated with the company. Trips start from €100 and are so popular that La Bella Verde is making itself known as one of Ibiza's most exciting start-ups: it plans to expand worldwide, open a sailing school out of its Salinas beach shack HQ and continue the work of its charity foundation.
Read on for an insight into La Bella Verde and its unique take on eco-tourism.
How did La Bella Verde start?
Maarten and Alistair, two of the three founders, were sailing the original boat as captains, when one day they were filling up the engines with fuel and saw the leakage of one of the engines into the beautiful emerald waters of Salinas beach. Between them they came up with the idea of turning the boat solar. When they were sat with their friend Charlie, talking about the idea, as a marine biologist by degree, he leapt at the chance to invest, seeing the potential. That winter the three founders purchased the original boat and set to work at designing and marketing their brand new solar catamaran projectWhat is the aim of La Bella Verde?
The aim is to make a significant change in the boating world, to see the conversion of many of the world's boats turning to electric engines. What started out as an eco charter experience for guests in Ibiza is now going global, building new catamarans for sale internationally, converting older boats to solar/electric engines globally and to turn the seas green!What does a typical day with La Bella Verde consist of?
The usual charter day with us starts at around midday, but launch time is flexible to suit early birds or, indeed, ravers who may not be ready to see the good side of midday. They'll meet one of our finest captains, who are becoming pretty renowned in their own right, and it's all aboard to set sail, open up the local craft beers and organic wines and hit the first swimming spot. All the while with the Balearic musical backdrop on some of the best nautical soundsystems around. Up until 2018 we have exclusively been going from Salinas Beach over to Formentera, but new routes will be opening up next summer. Due to our shallow hull, we are able to enter areas that other boats of our size cannot reach, which means we can get to more seculded spots, something that's very necessary in high season in Ibiza. Then on to the next spot, whether that be one of Formetera's famous beach restaurants or the more intimate locally-sourced organic picnic that we offer as an extra on all of our trips.
After a lazy long mediterranean lunch, we set sail back to Ibiza, for our secret sunset spot, before heading back home to Salinas with salty hair and sun-kissed faces.
Is La Bella Verde affordable?
This has always been one of our main priorities, keeping the experience we offer affordable. At €100 per person, including your captain, 7 hours of sailing, and the complimentary drinks, when compared to other experiences (especially club tickets and drinks), we feel it is within the majority of Ibiza tourists' budgets. Next year we will be offering a platinum package for those that want a little bit of eco luxury, so keep an eye on our socials to see what will be on offer.Why is eco tourism important?
Tourism in general has a huge impact on the environment as a whole, from waste management, air pollution, water pollution. By making an effort to promote more sustainable tourism practices many of the pressures exerted on areas with high tourism, especially true in Ibiza's case, can be alleviated. A secondary effect is also to help change the mindsets of the people that come to these beautiful places all around the world. We see it almost daily, people have heard about the great experience we create, not necessarily due to our cco ethos, but when they come out and get to experience the magic of being so connected to the elements and nature, while creating no emissions, they take a little piece of that home with them. The same can be said about when they holiday and see efforts being made to keep our planet, our home, clean.How is La Bella Verde helping eco tourism in Ibiza?
Apart from the fact that we are the only zero emissions boat charter company in the mediterranean, last year we also set up the La Bella Verde Foundation, the charitable arm of LBV, raising funds through donations, a percentage of our profits, events and merchandising, that will be supporting local & global initiatives such as Ibiza Preservation Fund, The Save Posidonia Project, Oceanic, Sea Bin Project as well as many other great schemes that are creating the positive change that is so needed here in the Balearics and beyond.
Why does Ibiza need to be protected?
We believe that at this point in time, everywhere on the planet needs to be protected, but Ibiza truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth. For this reason millions of tourists flock here every summer, causing huge pressure on the environment, so if we want this insanely beautiful gem to stay that way for our children and grandchildren, we must take every step to protect its land and its waters.What are future plans for La Bella Verde?
This year sees big changes and progression for us: we are adding a number of new boats and routes to our Ibiza fleet next year allowing more people to experience the magic we are creating here. We have also just completed building our very first eco catamaran from scratch, and much updated model of our original vessel, the building of the second is already underway. These are to be both used by ourselves and sold internationally for eco warrior pirates who want to expand the green boating movement. We will also be offering our services to boat owners and charter companies around the world that would like to convert their current boats to solar electric. Lastly, 2019 will see the opening of the LBV sailing school, taking over our HQ in Salinas, which has been the sailing school for over 30 years, we plan to carry on teaching and inspiring kids and adults alike to discover the world of sailing. The difference is, we will be doing in with our eco twist. We will also be using the HQ down on Salinas as a space for various events, beach clean ups, teaching facilities for eco outreach initiatives and creating a sustainability hub for the island.