All roads lead to the sun in Sant Antoni de Portmany in North-Western Ibiza. As the year comes to a close, the summer’s party seekers have left and only locals roam the sun-kissed island, making Sant Antoni an unexpectedly magical winter getaway. As you walk through the town, you can’t help but be drawn to the crystal mediterranean waters that you can hear from all directions. Welcomed by the white noise of waves, you’re reminded to slow down and seek solace in the seaside breeze.
There is a calm air to the island in off-season, an energy captured by the centrally located Hotel Portmany. Its spacious apartments overlook San Antonio bay which means waking up to palm trees and a scenic sunrise. On arrival, hotel manager Ulrikke greets you with sparkling wine and a smile. Her warm hospitality exemplifies the magic of Ibizan locals. Home to 120 nationalities, it’s easy to see why people fall in life with this small slice of paradise. Sant Antoni’s life force, as passionately described by our tour guide Carlos, is food, family and sea.
Just across the water from North Africa, Sant Antoni’s balmy days and mild nights mean outdoor activities like cycling, hiking and sailing are at your doorstep. The island adopts a peaceful pace in winter so even the most popular hotels and restaurants feel like a treasured find. Beaches that are usually packed like Cala Salada are serene and empty at this time of year. Cross the short and rocky trail to the smaller Cala Saladeta to see a stunning aerial view of waves that sparkle under the winter sun before meeting its sandy shores.
For a cinematic cliff view of the sunset favoured by locals, it’s worth making the hike to the unmissable Puertas del Cielo (Gates of Heaven.) Make sure to stay till after sunset to bask in the glow of amber-tinged clouds. If you prefer a less breezy experience, the terrace of Hostal La Torre has a beautiful panoramic view, great drinks and DJs playing infectiously relaxing music straight from vinyl. It’s the perfect spot for socialising and aperitifs.
There are centuries worth of history behind Sant Antoni’s beautiful landscape. The local dialect Ibicenco and traditional minimalist architecture embody the contributions of the Phoenicians who brought the first vines to island, the Arabs who built Es Broll, a series of irrigation springs and canals, during the Muslim rule of Ibiza and the Catalan Catholics who constructed churches with signature white limestone exteriors.
Sant Antoni’s history is as rich as its soil which grows avocados, almonds, oranges, lemons and olives in abundance. Ibizaloe is an aloe farm growing a small and mighty production. Their free tour is an insightful chance to learn about the healing properties of aloe plants and take home gel that is purer than anything you’ll find at a pharmacy. Sant Antoni’s unbridled nature is its shining jewel so the botanical garden Bibo Park is a worthy visit. It’s home to the world’s first plant piano which is exactly what it sounds like. Plants are sensitive to touch as light as the wind. When you place your hands on their leaves they transform your frequency into light and melodic sound. It’s both a magical and impressive exploration of eco-friendly technology.
Stopping by Ibiza’s largest ecological winery Can Rich is a must for wine lovers and offers a deep dive into the production of local wines and liquor. You’ll find wine and olive oil from Can Rich on the menus of various local restaurants where the food comes straight from the soil or sea to your plate. Whether it’s the perfectly executed dishes at 16th-century church turned fine dining restaurant Sa Capella, the traditional home-style Ibizan menu at Es Rebost de Can Prats, or the deliciously contemporary multi-course tasting menu at Es Ventall, the cuisine on offer is fresh and sublime so leave plenty of time on your trip to try it all.
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photography. Jordi Albiol
words. Shama Nasinde