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The Ibiza bucket list of 2014

What you must do in Ibiza this summer

  • Tim Sheridan
  • 4 July 2014
The Ibiza bucket list of 2014

Ibiza veteran Tim Sheridan's guide to getting the most out of the White Isle

1. Tune in, drop out

Ditch the mixes you brought from home and tune in to Sonica, Open Lab or Ibiza Global radio for the duration of your stay to learn what's really going on. Seamless mixes from the world's best DJs interspersed with essential facts.

2. Wall of sound

Try to get your photo on the wall of The Rock Bar with the stars. Along with its neighbour, Base Bar, it's still the beating heart of pre-club Portside action in the Old Town – and as well as the place to spot and be spotted it's the go-to venue for veteran DJs to start off the night.

3. Meat the locals

Experience a proper Ibicenco asador (grill) at Cafeteria Parador at the junction of Carrer Portinax/Av Sant Josep de sa Talaia (just a bit further out of town from the McDonald's roundabout). Or go more upmarket at Can Caus, which is on the left, 1KM before you get into Santa Gertrudis on the main road.

4. Divine retribution

Do a hike/swim/boat trip as an offering to the local pagan deity, Tanit. Atlantis is a fairly well-kept secret spot, just round the corner from Cala d'Hort by sea and quite a hike by land. Warning: given the heat, do not attempt the hike in anything but the rudest of health, and carrying a significant amount of water.

5. Vinegar optional

Go to the salt flats and fill your boots with free salt. Salinas literally means 'saltworks', and part of the deal when King Philip V of Spain appropriated them, after the War of the Spanish Succession, was that there would always be a mountain of free salt available for locals. Catching an amazing sunset while standing in the middle of the mirror-like purple ponds is an extraordinary experience. You may see a peregrine falcon or a sea eagle, too.

6. Leap of faith

Jump off the rocks at Sa Punta at the end of Carrer Calandria, or at Cala Gracio just north of San An. The locals leap here – it's safe enough for the sensible, but do exercise caution and never after alcohol.

7. Formentera?

So over. Get a boat to the island of Tagomago off the north-east of the island and have lunch at the new chiringuito there. Guest chefs and local, seasonal fare make this a cool new spot to be, especially as this private island can only be reached by boat. Go to Ibiza's closest point, five mins away at Cala Boix, and look for a lift from there.

8. Hot to trot

The water park behind Space ('Aguamar') is cheesy fun for all ages and genuinely a great laugh – as long as you don't swallow large amounts of the reclaimed water.

9. Form a bass camp

Walk up to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Snows at the top of Dalt Vila via the tunnels and vast battlements to understand why Ibiza was so hard to conquer (until house music arrived).

10. Exposed to the elephants

Order cocktails on the roof of l'Elephant and then dance 'til dawn for free over the road at Ibiza Underground. If you're flush, eat at El Clodenis first, or El Ayoun which specialises in Moorish cuisine from Ibiza's history.

11. Go native

Eat proper local food in a proper local spot. The traditional peasant fare like rabbit and chicken's feet at Bon Lloc in Jesus is 100 per cent genuine. Sit inside and listen to locals speaking Eivissenc, the Ibiza dialect version of Catalan.

12. Setting is everything

Go to Cap d'Es Falco for sunset. Halfway between DC10 and Salinas, take the bridge on a right turn over the salt flats (Cami de la Revista) and on to a beautiful, long, empty beach that faces due West and into the setting sun.

13. Sex safari

Go through the nudists to the gay beach at Es Cavallet and see some things in the dunes there that can never be unseen. Say no more.

14. Hike it

Walk south from Salinas beach and Sa Trinxa past some amazing rock formations and sculptures to the mediaeval watchtower at Torre de Ses Portes. One of the best walks on the island.

15. The original and best

Try in vain to get a table at La Oliva in Dalt Vila or if you fail one of the clones that have sprung up around it. This (French) spot is so good and famous it's now entirely surrounded by copyists.

16. Horse latitudes

See the island's premier sport of harness racing on Sundays at the Hipodrom Sant Rafel – it's hot, dusty and exciting. Called 'el trote' locally, a tiny chariot is pulled by a single horse at full tilt. Betting starts at 11am with the first race at 12 and every half hour or so after. The restaurant there is brilliant and ridiculously cheap.

17. Spiddle de beebop yeaaah

Go to the jazz nights in the old theatre at Teatro Pereira and see Ibiza without its dance music clothes on. Jazz was the first musical invasion to take place, back in the 1950s, and it's still around for those curious enough to look. It also goes proper Latin later, in the sexy, percussive sense. The old theatre is worth a visit regardless, and can be found on Carre Comte de Rossello butting up to Plaza del Parque.

18. Morning glory

Have breakfast (6am to 8am) at Croissant Show at the foot of the main ramp into Dalt Vila with the townsfolk and watch the market set up – and the rave casualties stagger about guiltily.

19. Yeah rrrright

Go for a run on the Talamanca Beach first thing with the locals, or have an early morning swim at Sa Trinxa. Failing that, do lengths at one of the Olympic sized pools in Blanca Donna, Santa Getrudis, Santa Eulalia or San Josep.

20. Asbestos pants ahoy

June 21 is the start of the feast of San Juan (John the Baptist) – and a biggie. Go to the town of San Juan on June 24 this year for a traditional village fiesta with leaping through bonfires and burning of effigies (which is not pagan at all, no sir). On June 23 all over Spain the start of summer is marked with fireworks and merriment too.

21. The girls watch the boys watch the girls go by

Have coffee any day in Plaza del Parque and watch the world go by, Ibicenco-style. These days, nearly every cafe in Eivissa's beautiful, central, tree-lined square has Wi-Fi. It's where the local cool cats go daily to network.

22. Anything can happen in the next half-hour

Club together with mates and rent a boat and captain at Marina Botafoch. It's not as expensive as you might think for a small one, and a boat can make short work of getting to some places like Atlantis. Check local websites like Ibiza Spotlight to help narrow down the many companies, but is a place to start. The hidden cost is fuel, so be aware – and don't forget to tip your captain at the end.

23. Posh nosh

Dine at Lio for a grand experience and stunning show overlooking the Old Town from what used to be El Divino. It's not cheap, but it is at the forefront of Ibiza's push to be San Tropez – and as well as mingling with the yacht-faced poshos and celebs you do get a cabaret each night that's pretty darn impressive. The food's OK, too.

24. Jon-don't

For those who feel the likes of Blue Marlin have made the Cala Jondal area too upmarket, try the coves on either side. The amazing restaurants and beaches of Sa Caleta or Es Xarcu are a cool alternative.

25. Sunday service

Homesick Brits can have Sunday roast at ace hotel Es Vive in Figuretas, also home to one of the island's most reliable late drinks venues and after-hours. An Es Vive party is usually a Who's Who of cool, resident Brits, DJs and go-to types.

26. Hidey-hole

Do lunch and swimming at s'Estanyol, a hidden beach due east of Jesus. It isn't exactly a secret (Cocoon and others have held parties here) but it's off the beaten track enough to feel like one, and has a great beach bar. From Carrer Flamenco go uphill until you see a sign for the beach; a dirt track goes down to the cove.

27. North by northwest

Drive to the lighthouse at Portinatx at the island's most Northern point and you'll get to see the 80 per cent of Ibiza that is not the main drag. Ibiza is bigger than you think, and if you don't know the island this is the best way to start. The road you are looking for is the one Bambuddha Grove is on. Once you've found that, you're halfway there.

28. Speedboat gonzales

Get shuttled off your charter by their own fleet of Zodiacs straight to a beach table at Formentera's Juan Y Andrea and eat with the jet set. Every day at about 2pm, from anywhere high up on the Eivissa side of the island, you'll see the lunch-hour rush of private boats creating perhaps the most exclusive marine traffic jam on earth.

29. Nag nag nag...

Go to Ibiza Horse Valley in Sant Joan de Labritja to see the great ecological work done there and go trekking with the horses and their foals in the Es Murta nature reserve. Experienced riders can trek all over the north for days, and even go swimming with the horses in the sea.

30. Holy moly!

August 5 is the saint's day of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, patron saint of the cathedral in Ibiza Town. This spectacular festival continues until August 8 with floats, parades and fireworks all over Dalt Vila. The patron saint of the island itself, San Ciriaco, gets a feast in Puig des Molins on the 8th too.

31. Until the bitter end!

If you can get an invite to either a Cocoon or Groove Armada afterparty you've definitely made it. Or maybe you'll find Cova Santa (behind KM5) which has been taken over by Amnesia; Music-On have been known to carry on there. In the Ca Na Negreta area Gringo's does the most disgusting afters imaginable (but we didn't lead you to a brothel, right?)

32. Scuba-scuba-do

There's some great diving around the island. A good way to make sure your visit isn't all debauchery is to sign up for a PADI course. Operating out of Marina Botafoch, Scuba Ibiza is both a top-notch pro dive centre – and dead funny when said in a Dutch accent.

33. Hug some dirt

About 5KM down the road behind the fire station, not far from Amnesia, is one of the island's biggest secrets: a vast nature reserve. Here you'll find the Casita Verde centre. If you have any interest in preserving the beauty of the island this is the place to start. On Sundays they have food and music.

34. Rave in a cave

It's usually near San Antonio, and it's the stuff of legend. Ryan O'Gorman's 'Rave in a Cave' is 1000 loons crammed into a cave nestled into its own wee cove with DJs such as Matthew Bushwacka rocking the balls off it. Essential – if you can find it.

35. Off-piste partying

Local party What's Up Ibiza? is something to look out for, as are Nightmares on Wax's events at Las Dalias in the the north. Playa d'En Bossa's Sands connect with Carl Cox is a winner. Veto (formerly Grial) near Pacha is also a cool local hangout. Raco Verd in San Jose does live outdoor music most nights under the oldest olive tree in the village.

36. Sound advice

Let's face it, at some point you are going to Ibiza with a gang, renting a villa and you will want to party. Do it right, as recent laws mean doing it wrong can lead to confiscation of everything (including your tunes). Get local help. Look on Facebook for people like Brian Beezwax who, as well as playing at Space, hires out sound systems and his own DJ skills for private events. He knows the law and how to do it properly without getting everyone arrested and the landlord fined.

37. Culture zone

The Bloop Interactive Arts Festival runs all the way through July and August. They set up camp in the lighthouse in San Antonio and have an exhibition of some description there every night. They also commission international artists to come and make huge murals on walls in San An all season. They put on two big outdoor parties at Sa Punta des Moli, one in July and another in August.

38. Aggro everywhere

'Agrotourismo' (rural tourism) is popping up everywhere. Agrotourismo hotels, spas and getaways are a far a more authentic way of visiting than spending five days awake, never leaving the constant coastal throb. Ibiza's interior is green, lush and very very quiet.

39. Barking mad

Try to spot a Podenco hound. The local (and often feral) wild dog is easy to spot because it looks like the Egyptian god Anubis. The gekko may be the island's official animal, but a Podenco is the true spirit of Ibiza. Look for a large, tan-and-white whippet, with pointy ears.

40. A grave matter

The Necropolis Punica in the Old Town is a good place to get a real sense of ancient Ibiza. 'Punic' refers to the long wars between Rome and Carthage. For 4000 years Ibiza's been at the centre of European civilisation, and you will definitely feel the vibe here among the ancient dead – a bit like the VIP area at Pacha. Look for Puig des Molins on, naturally, Via Romana.

41. Heavenly body

Fantastic cliff-side restaurant and chill-spot Amante is a great location to see a full moon before growing hair on your palms and going loco. Look for directions to Cala Llonga on the east coast, and Sol d'En Serra.

42. Bird-spotting

Look for locals in traditional dress. That means massive amounts of black – which may seem counterintuitive, given the heat, but if seen through a telescope on a slave ship moored off the coast all the young girls would look like old dears dressed like that. Truth.

43. Shut that door!

Find Traitor's Gate in Dalt Vila. The legend goes that when under siege a naughty Moor took one of the tunnels and let the Catalan army in. The gate is sealed, but the entrance can still be seen on the road up to the summit.

44. Summit meeting

Once you've made it to the top of Dalt Vila, pop into the Cathedral. It's about the most historical thing you can do in one go, so take the plunge – especially if you've made the climb. Make a small donation to help keep it going.

45. Total balloonery

One of the very best ways to see Ibiza is by hot air balloon. It does mean committing yourself to an early start (cooler air is more stable) but it's achingly beautiful and peaceful up there. Trips last about an hour, a snack is served and you even get a certificate:

46. Everything must go!

The island's Hippodromes host some great car boot sales. Check out some bargains, as well as a few sneaky local promoters and workers selling off last year's CD compilations and T-shirts. Hipodromo St Jordi is close to the airport, near the small roundabout that turns off to DC10.

47. Detox and spa balls

Whether it's spa treatments or getting your nails done, Aguas de Ibiza Hotel in Santa Eulalia does the lot, as does Hotel Haçienda Na Xamena up San Miguel way. Serious detox in Ibiza usually comes with a large hippy warning, but The Buddha House near San Juan does the full monty – as do the more pricey private retreats at Can Bikini and Casa Lila.

48. Northern exposure

The northern beaches – usually with lots of 'X's in the name – are practically deserted compared to the tourist traps in the south. Forty minutes in the car and you'll be well away from the grind. Try Xarraca and Xuclar near Portinax.

49. Go all Billy-bigbollocks

Concierge services are not only for the rich. There is a growing demand being met by enterprising residents who will do what they can for you with the budget you have. Club together and these guys can do anything from meet you at the airport and show you the sights, sort out that boat or trip or walk you straight into Pacha to your VIP table. Look for independents like Lewis Pennington on Facebook, or Roy Burdett from Taste Ibiza.

50. Artful dodge

Brand new Ibiza Town hotel Urban Spaces is the coolest new place to be. Every wall is covered in (really very good) art. What it loses in lack of a pool or a rural location it makes up for with being so hip it can't see over its own pelvis. Over San Anside, Sa Talaia is associated with Ushuaïa, and Lord above let's not forget Club Tropicana itself: Pikes (aka Ibiza Rocks House) is the original and best boutique hotel on the White Isle.