You’ve heard of the island of Ibiza, and of the constant ebb and flow of visitors from all over the globe who travel there. You might wonder, and rightly so, if the local culture has survived being diluted or washed away by this tide. The islanders of Ibiza are adaptive; they’ve had to be, given that their rural isle wasn’t always so connected with the rest of Europe. But adapting doesn’t mean assimilating. Here on this little Mediterranean gem, the cultural identity thrives and is evident in a wealth of artisanal creations.
Ses Salinas – The Old Salts
For centuries before the island gained a reputation for its bohemian beauty and wild nights, Ibiza’s livelihood was the sea. In the south of the island are the expansive salt flats which continue to operate today. The area surrounding the vast salt pits is designated as the Parque Natural de Ses Salines and is home to flocks of strutting pink flamingoes. Flavored salts are available for purchase for those looking to take a bit of history and flavor home with them.
Mercat Nou – Modern Antiquity
The “new market” has been open since 1978 and is bustling each morning with local vendors and shoppers whose smiles are as wide as if it were opening day. Stalls are piled high with vibrant island-grown produce, cured meats, local cheeses and still-warm baked goods. Don’t miss the fragrant cherimoya and figs, and the pride of any local butcher - Jamón Ibérico.
Santa Gertrudis - Small-town Treasures
The furthest you can venture from the busy beaches of the island is to the village at its heart. Santa Gertrudis is the quintessential Ibicenco community; the whitewashed church stands proudly over the bougainvillea-draped plaza where locals relax and children chase after the occasional wandering livestock.
Artwork, crafts and books stuff the shops that line the few streets around the plaza. If you lose yourself in the enchantments of this picturesque little town, just know you wouldn’t be the first!
Dalt Vila - Treats for the Tastebuds
Put your walking shoes on for a tour of Dalt Vila – the winding walkways can’t be explored any other way. The UNESCO World Heritage Site “Upper Town” is just that – a 16th century fortified center that is a delightfully chaotic maze of bright white walls, flowered windows and stone passageways.
Outside the steep archways and tunnels that guard the hilltop ramparts, a lively culinary scene is flourishing. Don’t try to resist the homemade gelato, inspired by local flavors and delicately fashioned into petals around a hand-crafted cone. Another tempting reward for foot-sore explorers is Sangria de Cava – a bubbly reincarnation of the traditional Spanish cocktail made with locally-grown fruit.
Aloe Vera Plantation – Health & Healing
The healing aloe vera plant, so understated in its appearance compared to the vibrant colours of the island, has been cultivated by ancestral Ibicencos for centuries. Visit an aloe vera farm to learn why this region is such a fitting home for the plant. Few other places in the world provide the perfect conditions of soil fertility, acidity, aridity and temperature that allow local farmers to grow and process the aloe without the use of common commercial additives. The aloe vera products created here are authentically pure.
Bodega Sa Cova – Wine Journeys
Any visit to the islands of the Mediterranean wouldn’t be complete without a taste of local vino. Tucked away in the peaceful northwest corner of Ibiza, the Sa Cova Vineyard is a family-run winery that offers a welcome as inviting as it’s wines. Tour the vineyards that are overflowing with local grapes like Monastrell and Malvasía, the cellars where they are carefully converted, and the tasting room where you’ll sample the fruits of this family’s labour of love.
All images courtesy of Getty Images