• Formentera
  • Menorca
  • Majorca
  • Illa de Tagomago
  • Es Vedrá

The Balearic Islands: Branching Out Beyond Ibiza

In early 2015, the New York Times wrote, “Few other destinations in the world can rival the party-hard reputation of Ibiza.” Noting that the Spanish island seems to be “defined by the packed discos,” “crowds of college students and 20-somethings on budget packages indulging in foam-filled revelry,” and “megayachts,” 2014’s Ibiza reel of highlights included throngs of paparazzi documenting Naomi Campbell on the beach, Puffy Daddy lounging yacht-side, and who could forget the fight heard round the world between Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber? The island has stood at the forefront of our cultural lexicon as the island getaway, but the Balearic Islands offer beach-goers more than just lavish clubs, luxury clientele, and cocktail-infused fights.

Months after the original New York Times article celebrating the quieter, subtler side Ibiza had to offer hit stands, the newspaper boasted the promise of Menorca, writing: “Imagine the white-sand beaches of Spain’s most famous island — but without the thudding electronica and all-night dance parties — and you’ll get rustic, low-key Menorca, now coming into its own.” CNN Traveller dubbed Menorca the “beat-free Balearic,” adding: “Menorca is now the Balearic island you graduate to when Ibiza becomes less about Jade (Jagger) and more about ‘jaded.’”

Even with so much praise, there’s more to the sisterhood of the Balearic Islands than just Ibiza and Menorca. With a DNA makeup that boasts 12 destinations, the up-and-coming island getaways are drawing lines in the sand where only Ibiza once stood. Minorca Majorca, Formentera, Cabrera, Es Vedrá, Illa de Tagomago, Dragonera, Illa de l’Aire, Illa Conillera, Illa de s’Espartar, Illa des Bosc, and the obvious Ibiza provide beach-goers looking for the ultimate getaway experience something more than Ibiza can: a secretive sanctuary of surf, sun, sand, and an uncomplicated Spanish experience. The destinations make up an archipelago off of eastern Spain in the Mediterranean. Mallorca, quite clearly, makes up the largest island, and Menorca, Cabrera, Ibiza, and Formentera sit within reach of the largest. The islands have upwards of 300 days of sun per year.

In 2014, The Globe and Mail wrote, “As Ibiza became one of the Mediterranean’s most celebrated islands in the mid-20th century, Formentera shrank from its neighbor’s glitz and glamour. Instead, it remained staunchly undeveloped – and if it was known for anything at all beyond spectacular beaches, it was for the bohemian artists and free spirits who settled here in the 1960s and 1970s. (Famed visitors have included Bob Dylan and members of Pink Floyd.)” And if Ibiza is the shine, Formentera is the soul. High-rise buildings aren’t allowed,” continues The Globe and Mail. “The relatively few hotels tend to be independently owned. Cruise ships, along with commercial planes, are sent to neighboring Ibiza. Even the sand dunes that flank the beaches are traced with wooden walkways, helping preserve native flora and fauna.”

Not every island wants to be known for the A-list clientele who sun on its beaches all season long. Some, like Formentera and Menorca, have made it their mission to slink along in the shadows unseen unless it is on purpose. And it’s not just seasonal travelers who are making their way beyond Ibiza silky shores. Travelers are buying homes and vacation packages — landing highly coveted properties have now become a game of sheer talent. As The Telegraph notes, Mallorca now commands some of Spain’s most expensive beach-front properties.

In what’s probably the most convincing argument that Ibiza is out and its surrounding sister-sites are in, The Telegraph notes: “Oddly, Ibiza doesn’t figure at all among the list of 140 coastal hotspots.” Well. That says it.

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