The Balearic Islands really do afford the residents, the travellers, and the tourists very diverse experiences in this Micro-Mediterranean Archipelago. Inter-island vacationing is nothing new, but it requires a certain amount of effort and proper planning, to make it an all-around enjoyable experience.
While discussing our next destination, we received a kind invitation to spend a few days on the idyllic spit of land and sand found a 1/2 hour from Ibiza, which is Formentera.
We had to immediately decide the best way to get from Palma, Mallorca to Formentera in August. It soon became apparent The Balearia “Eleanor Roosevelt” Ferry was by far the most sensible choice. Check-in is at 6:30 a.m. which also takes care of your return trip, departure to Ibiza is at 8am. On arrival in Ibiza, you change ferries, which is very well organized, as they have a bus waiting to take you straight to The Formentera Ferry, which is a 35-minute crossing, making it in total a 3 1/2-hour journey.
Top Tip: Do not even entertain the thought of flying in the high season (winter months Palma/ Ibiza by air, and vice versa, can avoid choppy seas). Book the VIP section on the ferry, bring your own bocadillos (sandwiches) or picnic. You are totally taken care of when it comes to coffee, canas (draft beer) & cocktails. Also, residents get a large discount on tickets.
The port to the house takes one through the island’s salt marshes and then one makes a turn off the main road, down a windy dirt trail to the most idyllic house. Immediately upon arrival, one really does not feel any inclination towards ever moving from this magical home. The trials and tribulations of life seem to evaporate, and one is immersed in a decompression bubble of total relaxation, free of any thoughts of the mundane. The old saying “Location, Location, Location” could not be more aptly used in conjunction with this heavenly spot. This truly is a Bon Vivant’s paradise.
Argentinian Chef Martin Stivel is extremely well-travelled and is a master of his craft. He arrives at 8 am to start prepping but also to accommodate the diverse breakfast orders (lamb’s kidneys & morcilla appeared upon request!) Lunch is served around 3.30ish, followed by a siesta to then rise for martinis at 9.30 pm, and dinner around 10.30ish.
His resume is fascinating — from Argentina to Paris to Denmark (before it was on the culinary map) to Spain — along with working on reality television shows, such as “Survivor” amongst others. This has allowed him to spend time in a vast array of diverse kitchens worldwide. He is marvellously well equipped at accommodating his clients’ every culinary desire. It is also what makes him a master forager for procuring the very best of everything, which is an art.
Personally, his daily fare was simply by far the best food one experienced on the island especially as he can take you anywhere in the culinary world, at a moment’s notice.
Top Tip: Martin resides in Ibiza and primarily works in the Balearics but perhaps one could lure him further afield but only on a short-term basis.
Our concierge, barman, front of house captain hails from Galicia. He is a consummate professional, having spent the last 12 years working for top-tier clientele. Specializing in the Balearic Islands during the summer months but has clients in Madrid and works in winter resorts, mainly during the Christmas holiday season, for a select few.
He is a master of reading each guest’s preferences in “quick time” and puts one at ease. One is looked after seamlessly with libations, expertly prepared with the right pour! Luis ensures total harmony between the kitchen and the front of house, regardless of numbers, which is a fine art. He runs the bar effortlessly and his cocktails are more than excellent, and his service is impeccable. Personally, if one did not have to go out, one wouldn’t.
Top Tip: If you own or are renting a house on Formentera you want to hire Luis, as well as Martin, to accommodate you and your guests. PS. Good luck!
Es Codol Foradat is a charming restaurant by sea that one imagines works fantastically for lunch and certainly has a vibrant atmosphere at night. It feels intimate and relaxed. We had a large table with a perfect view of the establishment. Fundamentally, fish and rice-based dishes are the order of the day. We started with delicious oysters served 4 ways (Plain, with Caviar, with a mignonette sauce and finally the fourth came topped with tuna tartare), one could have gorged on these all night and finished with the veal carpaccio, which was superb and luckily, we got two extremely generous orders that placated the carnivores amongst us. The person who ordered like a seasoned pro, at just 13 years old, chose the langoustine starter and lobster with fried potatoes and eggs as his main course, this was the way to go. They have an extensive wine list, impeccable service and certainly rates a returned visit.
Top Tip: Book for dinner if it’s your birthday, the oysters and carpaccio are a must.
Address: Venda Descamarí, Platja de Migjorn Platja de Migjorn , 4292, 07871, Illes Balears
Phone: 971 32 82 81
This Italian Restaurant in Sant Francesc is mainly known for its pasta, cozy and bustling with energy. The sign on the chair outside says it all: “Fully Booked”, in several languages. They have a blackboard with the daily specials, but they are generous with the pasta, which is served in cooking pans, the cacio pepe is what they are best known for. Service is good and the wine list is sensible.
Top Tip: Eat a lighter lunch and make reservations.
Address: Carrer de Santa Maria, 59, 07860 San Francisco Javier, Illes Balears
Phone: 672 71 34 19
Prior to our way to dinner one evening, we made a visit to this rustic beach bar to drink the famous Formentera sundowner cocktail “The Pomada,” gin from Menorca with fresh lemonade blended with ice, which slips down a treat in the waning light of day. There is an eclectic crowd here, which makes it fun, and this really is “a must” when visiting Formentera.
Top Tip: Excellent for pre-dinner cocktails while watching the magnificent sunset.
This is the oldest bar in Formentera and it’s a place of myths + legends. The décor is sparse inside, with a patio outback and the fact they have a fuzzball table is simply genius. Lots of thrills and spills in this dark cocktail joint that attracts a libertine crowd, mixed with locals and tourists alike. This is an institution of the island.
Top Tip: Another good pre or post-dinner watering hole.
Address: Sant Ferran de Ses Roques Carrer Major, 07871, Formentera España
Phone: +34 971 32 80 33
In Summation, Formentera is basically what Ibiza was back in the 80s and one just hopes the powers that be keep it like this and don’t succumb to dreaded developers, as this little spit of sand and rock is a truly magical place that should be protected at all costs.
words. Karina and William Annesley
photography. Karina Annesley