About Time: You Discovered the Healthy Side of IbizaBy Miriam Johnson
Most of us are well aware of Ibiza’s reputation as a notorious island of hedonism and clubs. From the sticky floored bars of San Antonio’s West End as featured on 90’s documentary Ibiza Uncovered, to the superyacht owners’ glitziest casinos, bars and restaurants in the Marina, there’s a way for almost everyone to escape reality for a little while on the White Isle.
But what if we told you there was an alternative way to “escape reality” on this beautiful mediterranean hotspot in a way that your body and mind will thank you for? With its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural history and limited wifi service, Ibiza is the perfect spot to get outdoors, try a new activity, and undergo a mental and physical detox. In an effort to get away from London’s stifling heatwave and stressful pace of life, we hopped on a plane to explore this lesser known side of the island, speaking with longtime expats and locals to bring you a selection of the very best of healthy Ibiza.
The Lowdown: Founded just last year, Paddle Ibiza is run by Luke, a former City based money broker who fell in love with the island whilst on gardening leave and never looked back. Striving to provide a more personal experience than some of the package watersports activities on offer on the island, Paddle Ibiza offers a range of suggested activities including the fashionable SUP yoga, mega boards for families and groups, sunset or sunrise tours, and a club for regular paddlegoers – but all it takes is a Whatsapp or email to get your very own tailored experience. However, make sure you reach out ahead of your holiday as the increasing popularity of SUP ensures the team are never out of demand. Luke’s clients come from all different backgrounds, age groups and experience levels so there’s something for everyone.
What to Expect: Paddle Ibiza’s classes are largely ran in smaller groups or even one on one depending on demand; perfect for beginners and excellent value for money. As someone with a self confessed “fear of the ocean”, I was surprised at how quickly I fell in love with the sensation of gliding around the coves whilst chatting away with Luke, who had given me a quick tutorial on the beach first. Despite paddleboarding’s graceful outer appearance, don’t be surprised if you wake up aching the next day!
Where: Locations will depend on the ever changing tides and weather conditions, so be prepared to go wherever it needs to be. Paddleboarding appropriate coves situated away from the hoardes are usually best accessed by car or taxi.
The Lowdown: Want to be guided by the same experts hired by Roger Federer, the Abramovich clan, the Saudi royal family and even Amy Schumer to show them the secret side of Ibiza? Look no further than Walking Ibiza, a collective of English speaking hiking guides, many of whom have been living on the island since the 70s. The business came about in 2010 after founder embarked on a solo round-the-island walk with just one euro in his pocket, following an epiphany at home on the M25. Walking Ibiza now offer both privately guided routes and tailor made packages, and community walks on Sundays and Wednesdays organised via their Facebook page that anyone can turn up to with a €10 donation. An ever growing business, Walking Ibiza now also offer community kayak tours round the island, and have recently launched a Casita on the third highest point of the island for overnight tours and dinner with stunning views.
What to Expect: At a private tour, you can expect whatever you’ve requested! At a community walk, expect to meet a diverse group of all ages and nationalities, with a friendly community of regulars and long time expats leading the helm – perfect for solo travellers to meet new people. Facebook events give an idea of the difficulty levels of the walks, but this can change depending on how the group is doing or wants. Overall, the vibe here is inclusive – no need for heavy duty hiking gear or expertise required. Knowledgeable guides are a wealth of information throughout the routes, and you’ll leave with plenty of dinner party ready fun facts, and homemade tea and cake and/or wine and nibbles are a nice touch for bonding over once you’ve reached the summit of the walk.
Where: Community walk locations change every week so keep an eye on the Facebook page for these – given the spots are usually out of the way these are best accessed by car or taxi, but it’s easy to find friendly locals who are willing to help give lifts on the way home. One of the most popular walking and kayaking events is on Sundays to see the hippy drumming hotspot of Benirras at sunset. Otherwise, the most popular prebookable private tours include the famous locations of Es Vedra and Atlantis, Dalt Vila, ‘Ibiza Henge’, and the Crystal Coast.
The Lowdown: Ibiza is hardly known for its tennis scene, but there are courts all over the island. It’s also where one of Argentinia’s best tennis players now resides and teaches. Natalia Gussoni has played at Wimbledon, and the Australian, French and US Opens, beating numerous world no. 1s, but moved to Ibiza last year to raise her daughter in ‘a beautiful place surrounded by nature’. Business is already flourishing for her thanks to her outstanding reputation as tennis coach beloved by year round residents.
What to Expect: Natalia is a very warm and encouraging person who speaks English, Spanish and French very well. She has access to the best courts of the island with priority access at any time of any day, meaning it’s super easy to arrange times to train. She has clients of all ages and levels and is not intimidating at all for a complete beginner – but for more experienced players, she is brilliant at improving long term techniques they’ve struggled with.
Where:It depends on where you both decide to train, but Natalia has 24hr access to a great court in Santa Gertrudis, which is easy to reach by bus or car from around the island.
The Lowdown: Amante has long been known as a favourite restaurant of celebrities, whilst its more boho sister restaurant, Aiyanna, opened just last year. Aside from their trademark fine dining menus, both spots are now offering a morning yoga and brunch deal – which, at €30 is a more reasonable price than many similar high end offerings – have gained them traction with Ibiza’s regular visitors and expats as well as the yacht crowd. Just make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment!
What to Expect: The hour long classes take place outdoors, overlooking both spots’ incredible ocean views for a truly uplifting practice to start the day. They are taught in both English and Spanish by resident yoga gurus Florenica Cassullo, Satya Morillus and Diana Naya, who together offer more than forty years combined experience in a mixture of styles of yoga, as well as mindfulness and meditation. After the guided practice, guests are treated to a healthy buffet breakfast, that includes fresh juices and fruit, eggs, natural yogurt, cereals, dried fruits and a selection of freshly baked wholegrain patisseries.
Where: Amante is a short taxi drive away from the main towns of Santa Eularia and Ibiza Town, overlooking the small beach of Sol d’en Serra. Aiyanna is a little further afield in the more authentic North of the island, at the northern end of Cala Nova.
The Lowdown: Ayda is a Turkish Italian former executive, who fell in love with the healing powers of yoga after suffering health problems and a mental breakdown in her old corporate life. After becoming 1,000 hour certified – having spent five years studying tantric yoga in India and two years of shamanism in Brazil – she moved to Ibiza in 2010 to set up Yogayda Healing Arts, after she “fell energetically in love” with the island. Not just yoga (unless that’s what you’re after), the “Yogayda method” takes in naturopathy, shamanism, mediumship, mentoring and sound medicine for a 360 holistic approach to her clients’ needs – whatever she feels they need at the time. Specialising in panic and burnouts, insomnia, trauma and more, Ayda can count Kate Winslet and super DJ Solomun amongst her famous clients, but is passionate about keeping prices accessible, having seen an epidemic of underqualified and overpriced yogis in Ibiza.
What to Expect: It depends: Ayda runs a number of drop in public yoga classes in natural environments around the island, where you’ll experience her unique blend of Anusara and Tantric techniques, incorporating her shamanic drum, sage and knowledge of moon constellations together with her uniquely soothing voice for an uplifting, therapeutic experience. 95% of her clients, however, book in for one on one days or half days together for the full spiritual healing existence; as Solomun says, “she always feels what her client needs and adapts to this”. Be ready to go deep.
Where: Around the island for drop in yoga classes – keep an eye on her website or email to find out more – or in the comfort of your own home or chosen location for private therapy sessions.
The Lowdown: Spa days and hotels abound in Ibiza, but Hotel MiM Es Vive is arguably one of the only high-end players to offer treatments and spa access to members of the public as well as guests of the hotel. Centrally located, yet isolated and tranquil on the inside, Virtue Wellness includes small but perfectly formed spa room with a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, that belies the extensive treatment menu on offer here. If you’ve been making the most of our healthy Ibiza activity suggestions, our pick would be Hotel MiM Es Vive’s signature massage experience.
What to Expect: A beautifully decorated, dimly lit treatment room – with two beds adorned with roses for couples – awaits those who go for a massage. In the signature experience, I found a perfectly English speaking therapist listened closely to my needs, but magically seemed to know my body better than I did once she got started. Relaxing strokes combined with professional grade sports therapy techniques relieved shoulders and legs from the previous day’s paddleboarding session as if by magic. I also had sole use of the spa room for as long as I wished, meaning there was no need to feel rushed after such a deep level of relaxation.
Where: The spa is easily found within the hotel, which is conveniently located walking distance from the hotspots of Ibiza Town and Playa D’En Bossa.
The Lowdown: This Ibiza institution has been flying the flag for healthy eating on the island for years now. Whilst its central locations mean it’s not so secret anymore, Passion Cafe is still a favourite for tourists and locals alike in need of nutrient boost. Initially founded in 2002 by nutrition obsessed Lana Love to fund her way through drama school in London, Passion now has 6 outlets in total, and has been voted ‘Best Ibiza Cafe and Healthy Eating Destination’ by White Ibiza five years in a row. Head to the Marina restaurant for a game of “spot the hungover DJ”.
What to Expect: The cafe’s popularity means you should try to avoid normal service times to guarantee a seat for those in prime locations (but in Spain, that means dinner post 9pm). An extensive menu will have you lost for choice – there’s almost as many juice and smoothie choices as there are food options. Our drink picks would be ‘the best chocolate milkshake’; true to its name, it remains the best version of the popular vegan cacao, dates, almonds, banana recipe I have ever tasted. The Moroccan iced tea is also a good option if you’re in need of a healthy, but cold caffeine boost. There’s food options for everyone; whether you’re raw vegan, paleo, or in the mood for something a little more indulgent – they even offer vegan fry ups.
Where The Marina cafe is right near Pacha, and the Playa D’En Bossa location is just down the road from Ushuaia, whilst the Santa Eularia outlet boasts a seafront spot. A brand new cafe in San Antonio is straight up from the town’s famous Egg roundabout, whilst for those seeking a more romantic dinnertime feel with wine options, it’s worth heading up to the San Jose restaurant. There’s even a small outlet in Ibiza Town’s huge BFit gym and an informal deli and shop in Talamanca.