Ibiza: Watersports, not Raves

Captain Miguel with his beautiful wooden gulet on which we spent a week in Ibiza.
Captain Miguel with his beautiful wooden gulet on which we spent a week in Ibiza
Overlooking the white buildings and marina area of Old Town, Ibiza
Overlooking the white buildings and marina area of Old Town, Ibiza

Discovering a Quieter Side of Ibiza, Spain

By Janine Avery

Touchdown in Ibiza and my expectations were already blown. The hordes of drunk tourists I thought I would see are nowhere to be found.

Sure, there are billboards flaunting upcoming parties, DJs in residence and promises of a fun night out. But they are few and far between.

Getting an Au Pair job with a family in Ibiza

Instead, it’s the lush green mountains, towering palm trees and old stone buildings that capture my attention.

Jo, my host for the week who will quickly become a firm friend, explained that many people have the wrong impression of this magnificent island that has been her home for the past three years.

Jumping into the oh, so blue Mediterranean from the prow of the gulet.
Jumping into the oh, so blue Mediterranean from the prow of the gulet.

Partying is expensive, reserved for tourists. She, herself, can’t remember the last time she sipped on cocktails into the wee hours of the morning.

Instead, her focus is now on discovering the best beaches, preferably by boat. And it’s exactly that boat I have come to see.

Because I am to spend the next week on a gorgeous wooden gulet in search of wind and blue waters where I can kitesurf, stand up paddle and wakeboard in the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea.

Discovering Ibiza

But first I’m itching for a tour of this majestic island and that’s where Jo’s other half Javier steps in. Dressed head to toe in black, Javier’s other life sees him working in those clubs that apparently do exist.

Dining at an authentic beachfront restaurant in Ibiza - here a fish paella is cooked on an open fire and served from one giant pan for everyone to enjoy
Dining at an authentic beachfront restaurant in Ibiza – here a fish paella is cooked on an open fire and served from one giant pan for everyone to enjoy

But that life is far from his mind today. He’s on one mission – to see if he can take us to as many beaches as possible, each one more beautiful than the next.

And boy, he does not disappoint. From discovering an authentic beachfront restaurant, owned by a typical Spaniard known lovingly as ‘the mustache’, where a delicious fish curry is cooked on an open fire, to exploring hidden coves with seas as blue as can be.

May in Ibiza

I’m visiting in May so the summer tourists haven’t descended yet on the white sands and the heat hasn’t reached its peak but the gorgeous turquoise colors of the water just beckon for one to jump in.

As the day descends into the darkness long past 9 pm, we eventually find ourselves in yet another secret bay (Javier himself – an islander most of his life – even gets lost on the way) and it is here that our adventure truly begins.

As we approach the boat in the dead of night, I can feel the excitement mounting. She looms before us like some ghostly pirate ship. Her wooden hull framed against the moonlit sky.

Taking a rest on a stand up paddle board alongside some of the many rocky caves that dot the island of Ibiza
Taking a rest on a stand-up paddleboard alongside some of the many rocky caves that dot the island of Ibiza

Climbing on board, it takes some time to become accustomed to the sway of this 24-meter ship as she gently rocks with the swell. But soon enough the ‘motion of the ocean’ rocks us to sleep and we dream of the days that lie ahead.

Life onboard

Awaking to the sound of the engines early the next morning, we are drawn from our bed in the belly of the boat and venture upwards to where an epic breakfast spread has been laid out, backdropped by the blue ocean filled with hundreds of pink jellyfish.

While swimming sure isn’t on the cards for the day, we marvel at the jellies of every shape and size as they glisten in the rising sun. But there’s little time for reflection because soon enough Captain Miguel is at the helm and its time to head to Formentera – a smaller flat sandbank style island to the south of Ibiza.

Here we’re promised steady winds and a quiet beach where we can enjoy a spot of kitesurfing. We can hardly wait!

Kitesurfing on Formentera Island

Arriving at Formentera we’re rearing to go. We’ve used the journey to assemble our boards, get into our wetsuits and prep our kites. We’re ready! Setting off for the beach in the boat it’s hard to imagine that such a magnificent kiting spot exists here in the Balearics. The ocean is as clear as glass, stretching out for as far as the eye can see and the wind is blowing consistently in a cross-offshore direction.

But what makes this sheer perfection is that there’s only our group on the water. We don’t know what the rest of the week will hold so we make the most out of the afternoon and with a variety of skill levels in our group, each person is able to progress in the calm, quiet waters.

Overlooking one of the magnificent beaches of Ibiza - the island is home to about 90 secret bays and beaches
Overlooking one of the magnificent beaches of Ibiza – the island is home to about 90 secret bays and beaches

Some practiced new tricks while others tried to get the hang of riding upwind, and others still simply mastered the art of standing up on the board – a feat that isn’t as easy as it looks…Trust me!

Exhilarated and enthused, it was smiles all round as we checked the weather report for the next day. The wind looked good, better than good, in fact; it seemed a storm was brewing. However, in the morning, it was not to be. The wind arrived with a vengeance, sending us looking for a safe harbor in which to take refuge until it clears.  

Biking around Formentera Island

We were told that this type of storm is uncommon for this time of year, perhaps a sign of changing weather conditions and a foreboding that the winds of change are coming. However, by the afternoon it was back to normal. The dark clouds cleared and with that, the wind was gone, unfortunately with no signs of returning for the remainder of our time in Ibiza.

Kitesurfing done, now what?

An aerial view of our boat off the shores of Formentera - an island located just off the shores of Ibiza watersports
An aerial view of our boat off the shores of Formentera – an island located just off the shores of Ibiza

But that wasn’t stopping us. Kiteboards were quickly turned to wakeboards as we jimmied a rope to the speedboat and practiced our jumps and tricks with the help of some petrol power.

Then the stand up paddle boards arrived and the next few days were a blur of swimming, SUPing, relaxing, eating, discovering the old town of Ibiza with its majestic cathedral and cute cobbled streets and the bustling the quirky side-walk cafes and street art of Sant Antoni, then, of course, eating, sleeping and SUPing some more.

All too soon, our final day approaches and looking back, it’s hard to imagine when last we saw proper civilization but at the same time, our week onboard this beautiful boat in Ibiza has passed by in the blur.

An Electric Hydrofoil Board

The Ibiza Cruise Experience wooden gulet as seen from the shore
The Ibiza Cruise Experience wooden gulet as seen from the shore

But luckily for us, the adventure isn’t quite over. The crew has one final surprise planned before we bid island life goodbye.

Flying over the water like some mythical goddess arrived our instructor on our afternoon of fun.

It’s an electric hydrofoil board! Powered by an electric engine, the board (which looks just like a bodyboard) is built to hover over the water on its foil.

While the instructor made it look simple, mastering the art of the board requires a level skill not to be underestimated.

With a tendency to stick its nose into the air when you get up to speed, it requires a good sense of balance to keep the board level and the swimming to the board when one does inevitably wipe out is no doubt the hardest part of all.

We were all exhausted but what a great end to a fantastic week of sun, salt water, and sunshine.

When we took that final step off the boat the following morning, it took a few moments for us to acclimatize to solid land, walking as we are with sway in our step reminiscent of the ocean swell. But lasting much longer than this slight uneasiness are the memories made and the lifelong friendships that we have formed on our unique discovery of the island of Ibiza.

We hope to one day return!

Planet Travel Holidays and Ibiza Cruise Experience

Janine traveled to Ibiza with Planet Travel Holidays and Ibiza Cruise Experience. Book for as many, or as few, nights as you want, as a group, family or individual, and spend your holiday in Ibiza enjoying a different side to the island as you kitesurf, SUP, snorkel, Janine Averyand dive wherever the wind and waters take you.

To find out more visit their website.

Janine Avery is a lover of travel, adventure, wine, and good food. She is passionate about wildlife and conservation and was raised by a bundle of scientists, botanists, researchers, biologists, and creatives. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, she is a seasoned sailor and water sports enthusiast and is the first to confess that she’s been badly bitten by the travel bug. Her trip was sponsored by Planet Travel Holidays but the opinions are her own.

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