The sudden sight of Cala d’en Serra beach is worth it. We are northeast of Ibiza, several kilometers from anywhere.
We walked from Portinatx, past the majestic 170ft candy-striped Moscarter lighthouse and along an intricate coastal path with lush pine forest, orange and lemon groves on one side, steep cliffs, rocky bays and a rich blue sea on the other.
This cove is one of the island’s countless glories, an oval of golden sand surrounded by turquoise water.
Roger Alton and his group – led by tour guides from G Adventures – travel to Ibiza’s Cala d’en Serra beach (pictured)
A beach in the Ibizan village of Portinatx, which features on one of Roger’s walks along the island’s coast
We have to descend (the road is in a terrible state) past the shell of an abandoned hotel and onto the small beach, dotted with a handful of fishermen’s huts. They say there’s a risk of jellyfish, but thanks to a handy new app (yes, really), these pesky creatures are easy to avoid.
Hiking is, by far, the best way to see the island and savor its rich flora, from bougainvillea and hibiscus to rosemary and sage. We are a motley bunch, brought together by an enterprising Canadian company called G Adventures. They want to introduce visitors to the invisible sides of great destinations.
A holiday spent on a deckchair? Forget it. With G Adventures you put one foot in front of the other in Iceland to see the Northern Lights; the Inca Trail in Peru; Costa Rica’s rich wildlife; the wonders of Nepal. These are trips for adults (regardless of your age) – like-minded people with the confidence to get out there and see the world for what it is.
Where else are you going to meet two business women who are best friends and both named Kathryn, who help me the most as I fall behind; a hospital consultant who is so fit her six-pack has a six-pack; a man helping to build a new generation of phones; a Canadian paralegal; an Austrian shipping agent; a Swiss travel agency; or a couple of 19-year-old friends from Munich who succumb to the other delicacies of Ibiza and disappear from view?
The tour takes the group past the majestic 170-foot candy-striped Moscarter Lighthouse (pictured center left)
The group’s base for the holiday is Santa Eulalia (pictured), a small resort half an hour on the east coast of Ibiza Town
All love the outdoors; all get along like a house on fire. Our guides are Javi, a former publicist, and Jaime, who says that even after 25 years on the island he “still discovers hidden gems”.
Frankly, I’ve always avoided Ibiza because of the party island stuff. It’s there, of course, but mostly hidden on San Antonio or Playa d’en Bossa.
We are based in Santa Eulalia, a small resort half an hour on the east coast of Ibiza Town and filled with all the restaurants you could want. Strangely, our hotel closes its bar at 4:00 p.m., which isn’t very Spanish and doesn’t lead to many community gatherings, although our gregarious team hangs out all over town after our walks.
No one should miss Formentera, the neighboring 20 km long island, a short ferry ride from Santa Eulalia and synonymous with bohemian escape and some of the best beaches in Europe.
Roger hops on a ferry to the neighboring island of Formentera, which he says is “synonymous with bohemian escape and some of the best beaches in Europe”.
After renting a bike, Roger cycled to the salt flats on the Trucador peninsula, at the northern tip of the island. Above is a beach on the western side of the peninsula
On his latest outing, Roger travels through olive groves and carob trees to the extraordinary cove Es Portitxol (pictured)
The G Adventures Ibiza Walking Tour starts from £699 pp, excluding international flights. Next departures include March 19, April 23 and May 14 with travel through November 2022.
Underwater visibility regularly reaches a depth of 165 feet, thanks to vast seabeds of something called Posidonia, an ancient Mediterranean seagrass known for its healing properties and high oxygen production. Obviously good things, and like most good things, they are threatened by marine pollution.
Formentera is better suited to two wheels rather than two feet, so Javi and I take rental bikes and visit the salt flats on the Trucador peninsula at the northern tip of the island. All salt marsh organisms take on a pinkish hue and glow red in the late sun.
Eventually we cycle to Es Minister restaurant, straddling the promontory that stretches north into the sea. Apparently Beyonce and Lionel Messi are known to come here so this is not a place to come without a credit card.
Back in Ibiza, for my last trip, Jaime takes me off the beaten track northwest of Sant Miquel through olive groves and carob trees, then to the extraordinary Es Portitxol cove, tiny and lonely with just a elegant yacht moored in the waters.
But when locals tell you it’s “about a ten minute walk”, don’t believe a word of it.
There is just time for one last visit to the marina of Santa Eulalia. My daughter, Hannah, who is a chef in Ibiza, takes me to Word of Mouth (known as WoM), an open space with music and, Hannah tells me, the best burgers in the world.
And you know what, she’s right. These are the best this hungry backpacker has ever tasted and are a delicious way to end an enlightening visit to an island I’ve misunderstood for decades.