There’s more to Ibiza than partying, with plenty on offer for younger visitors too. Aine Fox explores family-friendly Santa Eularia.
Listening to the waves gently lapping the shore while birds chirp together in chorus, it’s hard to believe I’m on an island famous for its all-night dance parties and celebrity DJs. Ibiza may be a small island, with our base in Santa Eularia just a 30-minute drive from buzzing party centre San Antonio, but the two areas are worlds apart.
Santa Eularia des Riu on the eastern coast is a calm paradise with a quiet, slow pace of life. There are beautiful beaches – including the first smoke-free one in the Balearic Islands, great food and plenty on offer for those after a more serene break.
The island does phenomenally well from party tourism, and revels in attracting huge names in the DJ world, but residents are keen to show off its lesser-seen beauty and family-friendly activities.
Although the municipality has long catered for families, it is now actively encouraging hotels and restaurants to sign up to its Family Moments initiative.
The seal is an official marker given to establishments that meet specific criteria, such as kids’ clubs, babysitting services and family pools.
Santa Eularia is home to the only river in the Balearics, and a walk along the signposted 3km river route is a delightful way to while away an afternoon.
A starting point at the 16th century fortified Puig de Missa church gives spectacular views of the town, and a leisurely downhill stroll from there brings you to the Can Planetes Mill, a centre explaining the importance of the river to locals in bygone days.
Fuelling up for walking tours can be an activity in itself at Maria Colomar’s eco farm Can Muson. Breakfast here is sure to delight young children, especially those from towns and cities.
As well as walking through the rows of fresh lettuce and strawberries growing on the 65,000 square metre farm, young visitors can hand-feed animals from superhero-themed beach buckets filled with an array of snacks. “They are in contact with nature and the animals here. Many of the children haven’t seen a goat or a pig before,” says Maria.
Local produce is available to buy on site, and the food on offer at the small, outdoor restaurant is either organic or made up of ingredients grown on the farm.
It’s a far cry from the hedonistic reputation Ibiza has enjoyed for so many years, but according to tour guide Shana Lacroix, there’s enough room on the island for everyone.
“People from all walks of life come here. I think it’s an enriching place. The island is small, so we don’t have to drive for hours and hours. In winter it’s quiet, the island is just for us [residents]. But now, in high season, I enjoy the contrast, I like the buzz. It keeps you young.”
Three fabulous hotels for families in Santa Eularia…
1. Invisa Hotel Cala Blanca and Cala Verde: This three-star complex in Playa Es Figueral is around 10km from Santa Eularia. The hotels sit on a sprawling site along the coast, giving magnificent sea views and easy access to the beach, with ramps installed for buggies. Probably best suited to a family wanting an all-inclusive holiday, the hotels offer poolside entertainment for children, as well as tennis courts, football and hockey grounds. The piece de resistance has to be Pirate Island, complete with slides and a huge bucket that every so often dramatically dumps water into the pool. Three kids’ clubs cater separately for age groups between three and 17. Suites can sleep up to six people. How much: A premium superior room for two adults and two children on a B&B basis costs from e162 (around £140) per night. Invisahoteles.com/en
2. ME Ibiza: Past ravers now settled into parental life are likely to enjoy this funky, modern hotel. The pink-lit reception, artistic wall installation and afternoon DJ by the pool give ME Ibiza a fun but chilled vibe. Rooms vary in size, but all are ultra-cool. White, synonymous with Ibiza, is a common colour – from staff clothing to room features. While children can enjoy the kids’ club and a child-friendly pool, adults can lounge on the Bali beds by the main pool. Breakfast features everything from cereals and breads to doughnuts and champagne. How much: Suites for two adults and two children on a B&B basis cost from e2,156 (around £1,883) per night. Melia.com/en
3. Atzaro: This exclusive Balinese-inspired spa hotel, surrounded by orange trees, is the epitome of relaxation. Out in the peaceful calm of the countryside, guests can switch off as they sprawl on four-poster daybeds by a long, narrow pool under a clear blue sky. Whether you’re sipping from a coconut or lounging by the huge LOVE letters at the edge of the pool for a cool Instagram shot, this place is perfect. Past guests include singer Shakira, although staff, presumably wanting to maintain privacy, remain tight-lipped on other celebrity clientele. Remarkably, the hotel does welcome children. The spa is adults-only but a separate family-friendly pool ensures parents and children can relax together. A nanny service also allows for some grown-up-only downtime. How much: Rooms for two adults and two children on a B&B basis cost from e340 (around £297) per night. Atzaro.com
* British Airways (britishairways.com) flies from London City to Ibiza from £215 return, including tax and one checked ba