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Ibiza

Europe’s party island has more than one side to its character

cila warncke | July/August 2014

Do lose your inhibitions. Ibiza is not the place to fret about a beach body. Going topless is de rigueur and nudity is no big deal, especially at Es Cavallet, a gay favourite, and Aguas Blancas.

Don't get up early on a Saturday to visit the market at Sant Jordi Hippodrome. Half car-boot sale, half social event, it is the place to pick up treasures ranging from Indian fabrics to vintage clothes, plus household goods. It knocks the commercial “hippie market” at Es Canar into a cocked hat.

Don't pay extra for VIP at the clubs, unless you are desperate to max out your credit card to hang out with dubious exhibitionists. You’ll find better company on the dance floor.

Don't go in August. It’s overcrowded and overpriced, and the workers and locals are running on raw nerves. The Ibiza cognoscenti come at either end of the season, June or September.

Do test the waters. Immerse yourself in the liquid turquoise of the Mediterranean by snorkelling, kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding. Or even just swimming.

Do bring the kids. For all its reputation as a party spot, Ibiza is child-friendly, and you often see three generations sitting down to a midnight dinner. Cala St Vicente is a good family resort. One generation can play in the sand while another has a drink at the bar On the Beach.

Do go self-catering. Apartamentos Mariano in Ibiza Town are simple and stylish with nice kitchens; the Can Marti apartments, set in stunning countryside, offer workshops and alternative therapy.

Do hang out in Sa Penya. This warren of cobbled streets just outside the walls of Dalt Vila used to be the fishermen’s quarter. Now it is home to an array of quirky shops, gay bars, tattoo parlours, restaurants and round-the-clock people-watching.

Don't take the ferry from Ibiza Town to Formentera. It costs twice as much as the boat from Figueretes pier (mid-morning, daily) and is half the fun. When you get there, rent a bike to explore the pine-scented hills and blinding white beaches.

Do drink the famed Café Caleta at Restaurant Sa Caleta on the south-west coast. It’s a potent blend of coffee, sugar, citrus peel, rum and brandy, served flambé. Stumble over to Es Bol Nou beach to recover.

Don't miss lunch at La Paloma, a family-run country café in Sant Llorenc specialising in home-grown salads and focaccia served straight from the oven. Arrive early, especially on Wednesday, which is falafel day.

Do explore inland. The campo has a character all its own and is a refuge from summer crowds. For memorable guided jaunts to places you won’t find on your own, try Walking Ibiza.

Do get excess insurance on your hire car. The island begs to be explored, but beware the local attitude to prangs, which can be casual. An annual policy from insurance4carhire.com includes things like windows and tyres, which most hire firms don’t.

Don't trust Google Maps, which is wildly unreliable in Ibiza. Maybe Es Vedrà, supposed to be the third-most magnetic place on Earth, is to blame?

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