Saturday, 22 September 2018

My Definitive Family Guide to Ibiza

Despite bombarding my Instagram account with pictures from our Ibiza holiday, my friends and followers seem - quite genuinely - to be interested in my posts. After each holiday we've taken on the island, I've had several emails and messages from people considering their own adventure there too, asking for help on where to go, where to avoid and how to experience the more authentic side of Ibiza.

So, may I present my personal guide, a round-up of tips and recommendations garnered from four trips to the White Isle over the last few years. 

I certainly can't claim to be an Ibiza expert and this isn't intended as a definitive guide. But it's written for those people who are intrigued by the possibility of an adventure on this small island but just don't know where to start with their research. 
Hopefully my tips will help you dispel some myths that might colour your impression of Ibiza; it's all too easy to think of a tabloid vision of high rise hotels and San An mega clubs when considering a holiday here, but that image just isn't representative of this magical place at all. 

But all good holidays start with some thorough research - I hope this offers a useful starting point if you've turned your mind to next year's holiday destination...

Great Family-friendly bases
Santa Eularia promenade
Santa Eularia

I think this town is the perfect base for a family holiday in Ibiza. We stay on the outskirts of the town in a lovely little area called Siesta. It's about 10 minutes walk to Santa Eularia itself. As well as a pleasant sandy beach, the town has a lovely harbour and a promenade lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. There are plenty of shops and and other amenities too - supermarkets, bakeries and chemists, for example. Development has been kept relatively unobtrusive and low key - while there are hotels here the resort feels predominantly Spanish.

San Joan

I love little San Joan, in the North of the island. Villas abound in the countryside around the town, offering easy access to the gorgeous beaches in this part of the island. Tranquil and infused with the hippy spirit of Ibiza, San Joan makes a perfect choice if you want more of a get-away-from-it-all experience. 
San Joan
Cala Llonga

The most developed of my four main suggestions for a base in Ibiza. Rather too built up for my tastes, I think this spot makes a good choice for families with younger children as you have literally everything you might need close to hand, as well as direct access to a sheltered sandy bay. You are also close to some other lovely beaches in the East and the North, plus Cala Llonga is home to one of my favourite spots on the island - the gorgeous Amante, a must-visit if you want to treat yourself to cocktails with a view.

Cala Nova

A great option for a budget-friendly holiday - Cala Nova has a campsite offering a selection of traditional tents, yurts and bungalows. It looks rather lovely and is situated directly on the beach. With its surfy, unspoilt vibe, this is a cool spot, ideal for those with older kids (the water can be quite choppy here so perhaps not so good for those with younger children in tow) plus there are some really interesting bars and beach clubs lining the sand - Aiyanna is a particular favourite.
Cala Nova

Worth considering:

Portinatx - another large resort in the North of the island with a lovely sandy beach. Quite built up but with pleasant corners, particularly the amazing Los Enamorados boutique hotel which is located on a pretty beach at the quieter end of town.

Playa d'en Bossa - I wouldn't recommend staying here at the height of the season if you're travelling with children as this is very much the party side of the island with a suitably youthy vibe (the beach is home to both Ushuaia and the Hard Rock Hotel, as well as numerous beach clubs). But we based ourselves here for a visit at half term and it was perfect for our needs. Out of season, when the crowds have gone, you'll have the long sandy beach to yourself, plus you can easily reach lovely Ibiza Town which lies just around the headland. There are also lots of good amenities, though the resort itself is a little charmless in places.
Cala Vadella
Cala Vadella - a lovely spot in the West of the island. Small, it may be crowded in high season but makes a great choice at other times of the year. A very charming place with a lovely sandy beach, there are some hotels and villas dotted around the hills. Also offers easy access to some lovely spots in this part of the island, including the gorgeous sunset beaches around Cala Comte and the bustling village of San Josep.

Favourite Beaches - East

Cala Llenya

A wide sandy cove with plenty of room to spread out on. Lovely clear water lined with dramatic red cliffs, this is a very family-friendly spot with good amenities including a beach bar. Another bonus - there is plenty of free parking. 

Cala Mastella

A gorgeous little cove with sheltered swimming and crystal clear water for snorkelling. Plenty of parking but the beach can get busy - come early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Definitely try and get a table at the rustic El Bigotes restaurant, an Ibizan institution. 
Cala Mastella
Cala Nova

Surfy beach with a hippy vibe and a great place for breakfast, lunch or cocktails at the gorgeous Aiyanna beach restaurant.

Cala Pada

Unpretentious and family-friendly spot that never gets too busy. Sandy and with great swimming, it's ideal for little ones. I like to walk around the headland to discover little hidden coves where you can have a moment of undisturbed peace. There's a great fish restaurant overlooking the beach and a cafe where you can enjoy a cafe con leche with a sea view.

Favourite Beaches - North
S'illot Des Rencli
S'illot Des Rencli

Exquisite little cove with the most amazing snorkelling. You have to get here early (we usually head out first thing and eat our bakery breakfast on the beach) as the beach itself is tiny but it's well worth a visit as it's a truly lovely spot. There's a good seafood restaurant overlooking the beach and you can walk across the fisherman's shacks to get a bit of privacy and space if it's crowded.

Cala Xuclar

Another gorgeous spot with a very Northern hippy feel about it. Unspoilt and quite tucked away, there's a cute little chiringuito here and that's it - no other development gets in the way of this magical little beach. Another great snorkelling spot.

Cala d'en Serra

Hard to get to (we thought our hire car might not make it back up the steep and pot-holed track leading to the beach) and totally unspoilt, this little cala is perfection. It did get invaded by jellyfish when we visited, however, but on a jellyfish free day, I can't think of a nicer spot to soak up the bohemian Ibizan vibe. 
Cala Xuclar
Favourite Beaches - South

Ses Salines

I can't claim to like the South so much - perhaps I feel a bit too old for this area which tends to be a bit too populated by Ibiza's beautiful people to make my middle aged self feel truly comfortable! But for people watching and sundowners, Salines beach is worth a visit, particularly if you're craving to hear some tunes - it's home to two great beach bars, Sa Trinxa and Jockey Club. Es Cavallet, around the headland, is worth a visit for the lovely El Chiringuito, the perfect place to nurse a cocktail and watch the beautiful people party.

Located on the South East, this spot is gorgeous. We arrived early in the morning and had the beach totally to ourselves - and it never really got busy as the day went on. Although it's just moments from the busy town of Jesus, this beach has a hidden feel to it. We had a lovely but ruinously expensive lunch at the beach restaurant, Cala Bonita. If you're on a budget, go for drinks or tapas - the decor here is absolutely divine.


Ibiza Town's nearest proper beach. It's not particularly scenic but there are far worse places to spend a morning - the sea is lovely and its a long, wide sandy beach so ideal for children. Lined with beach cafes, bars and restaurants and within spitting distance of Ibiza Town marina.

Favourite Beaches - West
Cala Comte Beach

Cala Vadella

An idyllic sandy beach with a family feel. Lined with a small collection of cafes and restaurants, it's a lovely place to while away a beach morning. The pizza place overlooking the beach - Bon Sol - is the perfect place for a lazy family lunch.

Cala Comte

Spectacular sunsets come as standard on this stunning collection of beaches. Be warned it gets incredibly busy here during high season; in October we had far fewer sunset watchers crowding our view. Overlooked by the bohemian Sunset Ashram bar (lovely but be aware that a sundowner bought here isn't cheap!) the water here is all kinds of turquoise and the vibe is quintessential Ibiza - very cool if you can cope with the crowds.
Sunset Ashram at Cala Comte
Cala Salada and Cala Saladeta

Two linked beaches close to San Antoni but as far from its tackiness as you can get. Truly stunning beaches, they do get busy with the clubbing set who come here to sleep off their partying excesses. Great people watching but the smaller Cala Saladeta is quite tricky to access, especially for little ones.

Eating and Drinking

Bar Anita

The very essence of old school Ibiza. No nonsense, hearty home cooking is order of the day here, and the atmosphere is great, particularly on the little vine covered terrace. I love this place - it fills the kids up and is kind on the wallet, plus it feels very authentic. A lovely spot for a drink after a wander around the pretty village of San Carlos.
Bar Anita 
La Paloma

Quite possibly my favourite restaurant in the world. Set in a stunning garden in the heart of the Ibizan countryside, La Paloma is a wonderful experience, day or night. Lunch is a more affordable option with healthy, delicious food on offer but it's the setting that blows me away every time. I absolutely adore this place.

La Bodega

A great tapas bar in Ibiza Town. The staff look like they've walked out of a Pacha advert from the '7os but while the vibe is cool, service is friendly and efficient, and the food is really good and very affordable for Ibiza Town.
La Paloma
Giri Cafe

Gorgeous cafe and restaurant in San Joan. Breakfast here is affordable and a real treat while lunch is also not quite as expensive as you might expect for somewhere so lovely. Served in a gorgeous garden, surrounded by sunflowers and daybeds, it's a wonderful place to enjoy food mainly grown on site. Service can be a little slow but it's not the sort of place you want to rush through.

Macao Cafe

Outstanding Italian food in the upmarket village of Santa Gertrudis. The pasta here is divine, plus they do kid-pleasing pizzas and meat and fish dishes. Not a cheap option, but the cooking is very good here and the setting - a fairy-light strung garden - is sublime.
Giri Cafe
Bar Costa

Simple food served overlooking the bustling square at Santa Gertrudis. If you just want something snacky - as kids often do - this place is ideal; they only serve cheese, cured meats, pan con tomate and rustic sandwiches. Cheap and cheerful, there's often a queue for a table but get here before 8pm and you shouldn't have to wait long. A great spot for a beer and a perfect bocadillo as you watch the evening unfold.

Los Otros

Branches in both Sant Joan and Santa Eularia harbour. The San Joan branch has a lovely terrace and concept store, with DJs and live music on offer some days. Very friendly service, it's a lovely place for a coffee or a healthy juice - come on Sunday when the hippy market is on so you can soak up the atmosphere while you take a pit stop.
Los Otros at Santa Eularia

I love this beach bar overlooking Cala Nova. With plenty of room on the terrace if you've got kids, it might feel quite sophisticated but it's very welcoming and friendly. The cocktails here are delicious. Free morning yoga sessions take place and it's also a great spot for a pre-beach breakfast.


Owned by the same crew as Aiyanna, this restaurant and bar has a priviledged position overlooking a stunning beach that feels private but is actually a public beach. The restaurant is expensive so we've never eaten here but have enjoyed many an evening watching the moon rise over the water from the comfort of a daybed. An absolutely gorgeous spot.


The classiest place to hang on Playa d'en Bossa. It's not open outside of the main season, but if you visit in the summer and fancy treating yourself, this beautifully designed beach bar and restaurant in the middle of the bay is pretty special place to do so.


My favourite place for a glass of Cava in the old part of Ibiza Town, Dalt Vila. Named after the cascading steps that form the bar's outside seating, this lovely place is so atmospheric at night and offers a great place to soak up the bustle and excitement of Ibiza Town.

Pizza Enfarinarte

A useful option for families when you don't want to spend out on an expensive meal but don't fancy cooking - this excellent take out pizza place in the village of San Carlos is a lifesaver. Great value and good quality pizzas - you can sit in the little square in the heart of the village, before enjoying a glass of wine at Anita's or an ice cream from gelateria Viccio.

Must do experiences

Boat Trip to Formentera

Big disclaimer - it will be mega busy in high season but to visit Ibiza and not go to Formentera would be a shame. The beaches here are spectacular. There are lots of regular shuttle ferries from Ibiza Town harbour, as well as services from other key spots on the island (we went from Cala Pada, though some options take longer - check before you buy if you want to ensure you get a direct 30 minute crossing)
Yacht Spotting in Ibiza Town

My kids could have spent hours gawping at the outrageous yachts lined up along Ibiza Town's harbour. Incredible vessels owned by the world's mega rich make their way to the island in the summer - this year we spotted one owned by Giorgio Armani but all kinds of ridiculous wealth is on display on the strip. It's all very ostentatious but offers a fascinating insight into another world.


Don't forget your snorkel! The waters in Ibiza are swimming with fish and it's wonderful to see your children exploring the world under water, especially as many beaches are quite shallow and very sheltered, offering safe conditions for little ones. We found that buying a full face mask was a great investment - they're much easier to use if you have young children.

Hippy Markets

My favourites are Las Dalias at San Carlos and the Sunday market at San Joan. The former operates at day and night - come in the evening and you get a full 360 entertainment experience, with shopping, food, live music and DJs on offer. This is one of my favourite things to do in Ibiza - the atmosphere at Las Dalias is really fun, really colourful and the music policy feels very authentic. The central bar area features old school Ibiza DJs who play brilliantly eclectic music a world away from the EDM churned out by the likes of David Guetta and co. And you can drink cocktails and buy amazing things. Finally, there is a kids area featuring the most amazing carousel you're ever likely to clap eyes on. 
Entertainment at Las Dalias
The Sunday market at San Joan is also a must-visit if you want to experience hippy Ibiza at its best - you'll see outdoor yoga sessions, live music and get to peruse some lovely stalls selling everything from organic beauty products to exquisite jewellery.

Concept Store Shopping

Staying with the subject of shopping, two shops must get a mention. For a shopping experience like no other, visit Sluiz, a vast emporium filled with amazing interiors and fashion items; it also houses a stunning bar. My idea of heaven. Over the road lies the smaller, more bohemian La Galeria Elefante, a stunning treasure trove of gorgeous things from around the world. From hand-embroidered cushions and throws to ceramics and books, there is something truly magical about this shop, housed in a traditional finca on the way to Santa Gertrudis. 
La Galeria Elefante

Sunset Watching

Oh, Ibiza - your sunsets are so incredible! Take your pick from a number of places to watch the sun dip into the sea, from the buzzy sunset strip of San Antonio to the more tranquil spots in the North. My personal recommendations are Benirras Beach (but not on a Sunday when parking is a major issue), Cala Comte and from the car park above Cala d'en Hort where you can watch the sun slip into the sea by the mythical Es Vedra rock. You can also get a good sunset experience from Dalt Vila in Ibiza Town - the pink skies cast a gorgeous glow over the church and crumbling old houses.

Wandering around Dalt Vila and Sa Penya

Ibiza Town's old walled city is an atmospheric place for an evening wander. By day, start with breakfast at Croissant Show (great people watching) before walking around the ramparts and taking in the views over the lower town and harbour. In evening, the place really comes to life with shops open till late and people tumbling out of the bars and getting in the mood for a night at Pacha. Everyone from elderly couples to drag queens take to the streets, which are colourful and carry a real buzz of excitement for the night ahead.

It's edgier around Sa Penya and very sophisticated around the main Dalt Vila square. Back in the lower town you might still catch a club parade or see some interesting street performers. There are some truly interesting shops to pop into - I love Vicente Ganesha for properly Bohemian Ibizan clothing that captures the essence of pre-commercialised Ibiza.

You can read my previous blog posts about Ibiza here and here.


Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Eating out in Bristol: The Burger Joint

How to fix post holiday blues is something I've written about before. But until this week, I hadn't factored burgers into the equation. Having totted up the holiday credit card and come to the conclusion that we might not be able to eat for the next few months, the idea of treating ourselves to a post-holiday lunch or dinner out seemed, quite literally, off the menu.

So an invitation to trial the new menu at Bristol favourite The Burger Joint on Whiteladies Road couldn't have come at a more convenient moment. With the last day of the school holidays at our disposal, a trip to chow down on burgers with my boys was the perfect end of summer treat and something to - hopefully - brush the blues aside.

Now, I'm not by any means a burger aficionado, but after a two week holiday dining on sometimes less than substantial tapas, I was craving something meaty and filling. As was my eldest, who very much is a burger fan and now he's hit full teen mode, is able to put away staggering amounts of food. 

Thankfully The Burger Joint had his needs covered. When your kids get beyond the children's menu, it can be eye-wateringly expensive dining out with the family - do not, for example, step anywhere near a Yo Sushi with a hungry 14 year old in tow. The portions and prices at The Burger Joint are ideal, though - a 6oz prime beef burger comes in at a very reasonable £9.95, including a side and two sauces.

The experience at The Burger Joint is all about tailor making our own burger - you're given a notepad of options to tick off so you really do get to have your meal your way. Both me and my son were rather pedestrian with our meat choices, opting for a classic beef burger, but you can choose from some quite exotic options, including venison and ostrich, as well as some delicious sounding veggie options (I'd like to give the Beetroot and Feta burger a whirl next time.)

Then, you build up your meal with toppings and sauces - a dizzying array of options including a wide range of cheeses, guacamole, jalapenos, bacon, coleslaw and much more. My son is a pulled pork fanatic so he added this to his meat feast, topped off with some American cheese and some BBQ sauce. 

Oh, did I mention you can choose your bun option too (though why would you choose anything but a classic brioche?) and sides to accompany your burger include everything from classic French fries to opulent sounding Parmesan and truffle fries (as well as hand-cut thick chips, hash browns, sweet potato fries and healthy options such as corn on the cob and green salad.)

The Burger Joint is an unpretentious place that doesn't try to be anything other than what it is: a friendly, in-and-out sort of restaurant that doesn't place style above substance. It seems to be a formula that works; while other hip joints have come and gone, this Bristol-born operation (there's also a branch in Southville) was very busy on the day that we visited and is committed to offering customers locally produced ingredients - meat comes from the butcher Ruby and White, bread from Hobbs House Bakery, veg from Ashton Farms and beer from Bristol Beer Factory. 

As we chowed down on our tasty and satisfying burgers on the restaurant's sun-soaked terrace, I was starting to feel a little less down about our post holiday finances, the looming new school term and the fact that I'd be installed in the office again soon. My teen, in rather less reflective mood, was just happy to fill up on his two favourite meats; the fact that he actually allowed me to take his picture for this post is testament to how much he enjoyed his meal.

With takeout available too, The Burger Joint is a great option to add to your address book if you're in the mood for honest, good quality food to fill you up - you can get home delivery via Deliveroo.

Perfect for families - particularly those with ever-hungry teens in tow, though there is also a kids menu available - we'll definitely be back when we need a quick meat-based mood booster. We all left a lot less hungry and a whole lot more happy after our visit.

To find out more about The Burger Joint, visit the website here.

I enjoyed a complimentary meal for myself and my son at The Burger Joint but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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