Ibiza, Spain is an incredible place on this planet that made an indelible mark on my life. It is known internationally as a party destination, like Mykonos or Miami. And, because of its rep, many people rule it out when planning their vacations. But that’s not the part of the island that interests me most.
Ibiza sits in an island chain off the east coast of Spain, near Valencia. And it is beautiful with white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and lush mountainsides. It is a perfect spot for beach vacations when sunbathing and chilling out is your MO.
There are small islands in the near vicinity that you can sail to on day trips or stay overnight. Additionally, there are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the castle in the main port of Ibiza Town. And there is hiking and camping for days.
But there is also a very active social life to be had on the island of which you can choose to be more club orientated or more laid back.
The beach culture in Ibiza is quite special with all it’s beachside restaurants and bars. Reclined in a hamaca (beach chair) or sprawled out on a towel on the sand, you are surrounded by interesting people from all over the world. It feels like heaven when you are relaxing to chill-out music pumping out over the waves.
And on the beaches in Ibiza, bathing suits are optional. So why not shed your inhibitions?
On the topic of clothes, I was always so amazed by the personal style of the people on the island. During the day, I’d call their style “sexy-beach-bohemian.” And of course, the golden brown tan, ever present, perfects the look.
In the nightclub scene, I’d compare the attire to stepping into Rio during Carnival, or some theatrical and hedonistic world where absolutely anything goes. The more out there, the better. And the more you let yourself indulge into the Ibizan way of life, the more you start to feel the undercurrent of the island’s people.
Citizens from all over Europe come together in Ibiza creating a fiery culture of it’s own, different from Spain’s mainland. During the high seasons it is bustling with visitors and there is an ease of social interaction. Friends are made quickly and people have their guards down.
I have often imagined that the experience in certain pockets of Ibizan life is like slipping back in time to the 60’s where everyone felt so connected.
But Ibiza, I envision, feels less politically charged than the American movements of the 60’s and more like a pan-European, non-political wonderland where freedom of self-expression and indulgence are king – and where the real world feels like a far-off, distant land.
The culture I am referring to may not be what you see at first glance. Once on the island, you may initially see the English or German tourists who come with their families to enjoy the beach. The Spanish government is always trying to bolster this kind of tourism over the club scene. Or you’ll encounter the less soulful, party crowds looking forward to and facilitating cliche, drug-induced vacations they’ll be recovering from for weeks.
Probe further into the island’s culture and you’ll find deeper stratum of society.
There is one important group I’ll call the Ibizan nomads. Generally, these people discovered the island in their early travel years and were captivated by its beauty and energy. Their transient lives are lived half the year, May to October, working and residing in Ibiza. The rest of the year, they go home, wherever that is, to make money and save up to come back. Of course, there are also others who come back every year during their regular vacations. And there are the Ibizans themselves, Spaniards and ex-pats from all over, who call the island home year round.
It is this deeper level of society from the nomads to the residents I found to be most captivating. Parts of this community carry with them an island-inspired, hippie sensibility. Among them, life is celebrated with perpetual indulgence. And Ibiza provides a perfect oasis for the enjoyment of beach, sun, nature, world-class electronic music, beautiful people, food and spirituality. They are a distinct community of people I wish I could be more like. They seem to worship all things beautiful and when they are on the island their faith seems to manifest for them a life of beauty surrounding them.
I often think, if I didn’t have big, ambitious goals and obligations more important to me, I’d find a way to slip into this world indefinitely. But alas, my real life calls. So while I don’t indulge in the Ibizan life like the nomads or the residents, I still carry the spirit of Ibiza around with me in my heart.
And I look forward to going back soon to connect with the Island and it’s people again.