I visited Ibiza, the party capital of the world, but the best part of the island is the side no one ever talks about
- I spent five days on Ibiza, the island off the coast of Spain, over Labor Day weekend.
- Ibiza has a reputation as one of the top places to party in the world, with thumping 24-hour clubs, wild pool parties, and gorgeous beaches.
- While I enjoyed Ibiza's party scene, which I found to be accessible to those usually turned off by exclusive, pretentious club scenes, Ibiza's verdant northern countryside was the most surprising aspect of my trip. It was beautiful, secluded, and felt miles away from the hard-partying coast.
I'm not sure what I was expecting before arriving in Ibiza.
I'd heard so much about the island from friends, magazines, music videos, and paparazzi photos that would be impossible not to have some preconceived notions.In short, I was expecting something like a super-sized version of the Greek isle of Mykonos, which I had visited a month before. That island I found to be a bifurcated paradise divided between the world's wealthy and famous having a private ball and crowds of vacationers, hard-partying dance-music junkies, and cruise-shippers peeking in for a glance.
While the 24-hour party culture is no doubt present in Ibiza, what I found on the White Isle was a place far more varied and nuanced than I imagined. As easy as it is to find a packed, thumping club, it is just as easy to find a hidden beach tucked into a cove or a mountain retreat far from the glitz and glam.
That's not to say tourism in Ibiza is perfect. Last year, the island of 130,000 saw more than 3 million tourists, a number that has been growing since the 1990s. And the local population has complained of tourism they deem "unlimited, disrespectful and excessive," according to The Telegraph. In response, the island has increased its tourist tax, put limits on nightlife, and banned the rental of housing to tourists (thus all but eliminating Airbnb from the island).
When I visited over Labor Day weekend this year, I found the island a welcoming and accessible vacation spot for all different kinds of budgets and temperaments. Here's what it was like: