Hippy vibes, stunning beaches, nature trails
They say it’s made of cheese, this smallest of Balearic isles. A tiny paradise coloured with deep hues of sapphire and emerald. Pristine and pretty, crystal clear waters lap golden shores and palm trees sway gently in the Mediterranean breeze. And what about the cheese you may indeed ask. Well so it’s claimed thanks to vast network of caves, miles of which riddle the island, caverns and grottos forming a hundred hidden homes for the hippies who’ve lingered since the 60s among the cliffs overlooking the sea.
Just a few miles from its hedonist sister, Formentera feels a world apart from Ibiza’s eternal party. At 20km long and only 2km wide at its narrowest point, here you’re never far from one of the island’s beautiful beaches or quiet coves. It’s the perfect place to enjoy diving, underwater photography, or kayaking in the calm waters, or just relax and dine on amazing fresh seafood on a beachfront terrace.
Sounds idyllic? Well, other visitors have long thought so, and during the summer months the island does see an influx of holiday makers, coming mostly from France, Germany and mainland Spain. Formentera remains less frequented by the British travellers who flock to more familiar Balearic shores. This is set to change though owing to the arrival of A-listers Kate Moss, Leonardo di Caprico and some well-known footballing faces. So from mid-June to Mid-September Formentera steps up, with beaches filled, culinary venues running at peak performance, and the island’s small but chic clubbing scene in full swing. Low Season Travellers should think about visiting from around April when the season is opening to mid-June, or alternatively the late September to October months. At these times the weather is plenty warm enough to enjoy beach life and watersports in peace. The island breathes again with the tranquillity and purity in more reasonable temperatures. Winter adventures are possible too, with ferries continuing year round to service the 12,000 residents. The island remains lovely at this time, but be aware that many eateries and hotels do close completely until spring.
Getting There and Getting Around
One of Formentera’s great blessings is that it can be reached only by boat. Ferries run regularly from neighbouring Ibiza. The crossing takes 30 minutes or so and one way costs upwards of €20. If you’re feeling flush, consider renting a speedboat, with or without skipper, and arrive in style. Landing at the port town of La Savina choose whether you want to hire a car, moped, bicycle or e-bike, and it’s super easy to get around. Plus, once the heat of summer has relented, low season brings a perfect climate to enjoy the 30 or so well signed green routes. These take you hiking or cycling through the unspolit beauty of hidden corners, passing historic lighthouses, nature reserves and small forests.
Are we in the Caribbean?
Just about everywhere in the Med claims to have the very best beaches, but in the case of Formentera, there may actually be a valid claim. Unlike other islands and resorts, Formentera has banned beachfront construction for more than 45 years leaving a coastline dotted with chiringuitos, rustic beach bars, and fine clean sand. On the northern coast Ses Illetes is particularly undeveloped, once winning ‘best beach in Spain’, while in the south, Platja Migjorn stretches for more than 6km. Cala Saona is popular with families due to its shallow lagoon like shores, and Platja de Llevant is the official nudist beach. Explore and find your own favourite.
Flora and fauna thrive in the island’s outstanding natural environment. It’s a real draw for birdwatchers with more than 200 bird species living here along the shoreline and wetlands. Estany Pudent in particular boasts a beautiful phenomenon with hundreds of flamingos migrating between August and October each year. Dusk is the best time to see them. Formentera has a strong bent towards sustainability. Of special note is the Save Posidonia Project which launched an action plan to conserve this rare UNESCO protected marine plant.