Monday, 13 April 2015
Balearic family holidays: Vibrant Ibiza
Spain's Balearic islands welcome young families with open arms - and away from the crowds each oozes individual charm, says Ali Horsfall
Ah, the sun, the turquoise sea and the blissed-out summer beats. How crazy was Ibiza back in the day? But this Balearic bolthole isn't out of bounds just because you've had a baby. There might not be any 'lost weekends' at Manumission this time around, but with your little mini hedonists in tow, you can still have masses of fun.
The pretty, cobbled Ibiza Town is just perfect for an early evening meander – it's dotted with cafés and restaurants that are hip yet also chilled enough to welcome the children. By day, explore the historic winding alleys in Dalt Alta (high town). There's a castle, cathedral and panaromic views from the high ramparts.
Es Boldado near Cala d'Hort has an eye-popping view of the coast and seafood that's fresh and simple. Take a camera - the dreamy backdrop makes for a great smiley family shot for the memory bank.
The original Ibiza hotel, Hacienda Na Xamena first opened its doors in the hippy days of 1971. Now revamped, it offers a luxurious spa, yacht for jaunts out to sea, and three pools, but the boho vibe is very much alive and well. Looking out over the sea and surrounded by a national park, the views are spectacular. Doubles from £200 B&B.
Minibiza at Club de Campo offers kiddycare with a difference. Stick around and soak up the fun or leave your little ones to play in the huge garden trying out the art, gardening or yoga workshops on offer.
The north-west corner of the island is dramatic and wild, with pine-swathed hills, olive groves and white cliffs. Try the smaller white- sand coves of Cala Xarraca or Benirras over the larger resorts of Sant Miguel and Portinatx. For a baby-friendly beach, head south to the tiny resort of Cala Tarida.
For low-key, barefoot luxe with your babies, make like the glitterati and head to diminutive Formentera, the Balearics' best kept secret. Just a 30-minute ferry ride from big sister Ibiza, this former hippy hangout has a chilled vibe and pristine white sands – perfect for beach play and ice creams with the little ones.
The calm waters and stunningly simple beaches of Illetes and Llevant are great for babies and toddlers. For an even more peaceful experience, hop on a boat to Espalmador, an uninhabited island minutes off Formentera's north shore.
Escape the midday sun and grab a bite to eat in one the many chilled-out chiringuitos (beach bars). For outstanding pizza and seafood pasta, hit up Chezz Gerdi. Your children can have small portions, then play in the sands while you tuck into the bigger plates. For grown-up time, sort a babysitter then book at Can Carlos in San Francesc. With a romantic, fairy-lit courtyard and mouthwatering menu, it's the island's swankiest eatery.
The shoreside Gecko Beach Club is a hip hotel that's luxurious, laid- back, and allows kids, too. The peaceful Playa Migjorn beach is strides away – build sandcastles and take dips in the brilliant blue sea, then loll and nap with your tots on giant day beds in the gardens and eat at the beachside restaurant. From £170 B&B.
Nestled among lush pines, the sleepy village of El Pilar de la Mola is home to an unmissable market held every Wednesday and Sunday. Expect quirky arts, local handicrafts and eccentric entertainers who will capture the children's attention.
The best way to explore Formentera is on bikes – hire them from the port and cycle the island's easy but spectacular, natural paths.