Less than 6 km (4 miles) south of the party island of Ibiza, Formentera is its complete antithesis - an island with very little coastal development, and not a club in sight. Its relative inaccessibility and lack of water have protected it from the ravages of tourism and it is one of the least spoilt spots in the Mediterranean with only one proper tourist resort, Es Pujols.
The smallest and southernmost of the Balearics, as well as the hottest and driest, Formentera, is famous for its peaceful, laid-back atmosphere and incredible stretches of white sand beach, often deserted, where nobody turns a hair of nudity. The scenery is dramatic and arid, windswept landscape, wild and wooded, with a varied, indented 80 km (50 mi) long coastline which includes dunes, salt flats and innumerable sandy coves.
The 19 km (12 mi) long, relatively flat island is best explored by bike. Country lanes lead past Fincas (farmhouses) festooned with bougainvillaea, stone-walled vineyards and small pastures where sheep and goats shelter in the shade of contorted fig trees.
Life has always been hard on Formentera. Although there are signs of human habitation from more than 4,000 years ago, it was deserted for nearly 300 years between the early 16th and late 18th centuries for fear of pirates, until a few resourceful farmers resettled here, determined to eke out a living despite the lack of water.
The island's fortune changed dramatically in the 1960s when hippies who had had their fill of Ibiza started to move here. It only took Bob Dylan to stay in a windmill on the island for it to acquire a reputation as the hippiest spot in Europe - a reputation that has stuck fast and still stands today.
When To Visit
May to September for the perfect dream Mediterranean holiday experience.
How to reach
A high-speed ferry departs from Ibiza approximately every hour.
- The Blue Bar - one of the best beach cafes in the Balearics, n the middle of the famous Platja de Migjorn, a beautiful 5 km (3 mi) stretch of beach that runs along the south coast.
- Faro de La Mola - a lighthouse standing on the highest point of the island, described by Jules Verne as a magical place in his novel Hector Servadac. The nearby town of El Pilar de la Mola has a beautiful church and Sunday hippie market.
- Es Cap de Barbaria - walk along the cape to the lighthouse to watch the sun go down.
- Estany des Peix - a lagoon with a narrow opening to the sea.
The strip of water between Formentera and Ibiza is a marine reserve dotted with islets, part of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to dive in the reserve area, you must obtain a permit.