Bohemian Rhapsody: Sarah Maggie Ibrahim's insider tips on Mallorca & Ibiza
Ever dreamt of running away to live on one of the Balearic Islands? It has definitely crossed our minds when we find ourselves pouring over images of crumbling rocky beaches and whitewashed villas set against the turquoise Balearic sea. We asked our friend Sarah Maggie Ibrahim to tell us more about her recent trip to Mallorca and Ibiza.
Cala Deià located in the northwest Majorcan countryside was in fact the inspiration behind this trip to Spain. Over the years I read a number of travel pieces on Deià. My favourite journalist described the beauty of this tiny village that is almost stuck in time, the breath-taking cliff faced beaches, post-swim seafood lunches and cocktails at low-key luxury hangouts in the village. Deià, which is listed as a world heritage site, has remained rather protected from the tourist masses, mainly because roads into the village are narrow and at times difficult to enter even in a small car. Over the years Deià has been frequented by a mix of understated aristocrat types and eccentric bohemians. It is a known holiday destination to actors, rock stars (such as The Stones, Hendrix and David Bowie) and it is also home to poet and novelist Robert Graves.
The magical village in the middle of the Tramuntana mountains is paved with narrow cobblestone streets, well preserved stone buildings and old celebrated hotels and restaurants. Cala Deià beach is a twenty minutes walk down the mountain and we were lucky enough to stay in a beach villa neighbouring the iconic Ca's Patro March, a relaxed and quintessential Mediterranean restaurant with a reputation of the best seafood on the island. It is the type of beach restaurant where you can order a top shelf bottle of wine with your calamari, shoes and shirts are optional. In order to access the beach from our villa we would have to walk through the restaurant, so naturally I felt obliged to enjoy many plates of Padron peppers, prawns and glasses of aperol during our stay. You can enjoy the best of all worlds in Deià; walks through the enchanting countryside, heavenly beaches, lunch on the terrace at the Belmont Hotel and aperitif at famous Café Sa Fonda.
For those who are in the mood for a more relaxed and holistic holiday schedule, there is a few yoga studios and a meditation centre in the village. I was told the Tramuntana mountains surrounding Deia contain the same minerals and crystals that are integral to an ioniser. These ions have a positive affect on the brain and for that reason Deià is considered a place of healing.
Cala Llombars located in the southeast of Mallorca is a small secluded cove beach that I discovered by chance, it was recommended by the lady in the fruit shop on my way elsewhere. On arrival and after walking down a dirt road from the car park, I was not at all disappointed by the beauty that is Cala Llombars. A mix of all my favourite things for a perfect beach day - clear turquoise water, sandy beaches with the option of lounge and umbrellas hire, a beach restaurant for afternoon drinks and, if the beach is crowded, you can walk along the rocks to retreat in front of one of the many rustic and abandoned fishing huts.
Sarah wears the Lilac Tie Front Bandeau
Next swim spot was Cap De Formentor, a peninsula on the most northern tip of Mallorca where the mountain meets the Mediterranean and locals have labelled the cape 'the meeting point of the winds'. Not the easiest beach to access due to the scenic twisty road through pine woods and rocky landscape, which at some points requires strong nerves to navigate, but once you arrive you will be pleased you made the effort. Playa De Formentor is a long and narrow sandy beach where you can hire lounges & umbrellas. There are also a few casual Spanish restaurants spotted along the beach.
This trip was my first time to Ibiza, I hadn't previously visited due to the known party reputation of the island. This may have appealed to me when I was younger but I was not at all interested in spending the last days of my holiday in crowded places with party people. A girlfriend of mine who lives in New York and holidays regularly in Ibiza often told me that my assumption was off and that I must stay on the north side: "the paradise end of the island”. She told me of secluded beaches, dirt roads leading to biodynamic farm-to-table restaurants and vineyards; and of tiny low-key beach bars that you would only know how to find if you were told about them.
She had recently stayed at a hotel called Los Enamorados in Portinatx and strongly recommended that I stay there. Los Enamorados (‘The Lovers’ in Spanish) is an idyllic small hotel of 9 rooms which was originally a small hostel on top of a fisherman’s house, now owned and operated by a husband and wife team, a French ex-basketball player and Dutch fashion editor. The hotel is filled with an eclectic mix of antiques and textiles and under the hotel is a relaxed and incredibly chic bar, restaurant and very well curated store filled with everything you dream of wearing on your holiday. You can enjoy swimming in front of the hotel in the cala (cove) or take a short walk to the main beach harbour. My friend and I spent many sunsets at the bar enjoying the live music and on our last night we were lucky enough to eat and drink to the sound of a live African drum band, a forever memory in my mind.
Sarah wears the Liberty Classic Bra
We had also been given a hot tip to visit Cala Xuclar, a small stone beach five-minutes drive from where we were staying in Portinatx. Xuclar beach is a very small horseshoe shaped bay surrounded by hills covered in pine forest. On arrival we saw that most people had walked along the rocks to find a comfortable spot in front of the fisherman’s huts. As we sat, we noticed that visitors to Xuclar were arriving by small boats pulling up for lunch at the little sand side restaurant, Xuclar Chiringuito (Shack in Spanish). Here I had some of the best ceviche to date and the cocktail bar was a pleasant surprise, considering the restaurant looked like a makeshift wooden cubby house. The water at Xuclar was one of the clearest and bluest that we had ever seen and I completely fell in love with Ibiza that afternoon. I will be back for more ceviche!
Continuing my love affair of the North (I have promised myself that next time I will venture out beyond the northern tip of the island) we visited Benirrás Beach on our last day in Ibiza. An old work colleague had seen I was in Ibiza and had messaged me out of the blue to say you must visit this beach, another sunset favourite for locals and island hippies. Sadly, we had already missed the bongo drummers who gather to the beach every Sunday afternoon to begin their homage to another sun soaked day on the island. Benirrás is a large beach, but private areas are accessible if you walked across the rocks on the left side. Benirrás is definitely more family friendly that others, parking was a breeze, lounges and raffia umbrellas were available for hire and there were several classic Spanish restaurants serving paella and sangria for lunch.