As the waves of the Mediterranean lap against the sand, I wonder if Ibiza has ever seen a day as quiet as this one before. The general atmosphere of this island moves to the beat of fluorescent strobe lights and the thumping of car radios. But on a warm day in March, this tropical paradise seems to be littered with remnants of summer’s aftermath and local island inhabitants. Prone to references of insane partying, this small but vibrant island gives visitors a taste of the high life—throwing massive parties filled with an over abundance of booze and techno music. What many people don’t know is this tropical getaway provides optimum opportunity for rest and relaxation in the off season.
During the winter months (off season is from October to May), the island shuts down like most tourist destinations. It is this unassuming quietness that makes Ibiza such a charming and tranquil place in the winter. If you’re looking to check out the island in winter, the best time to go would be at the end of February during the Carnaval celebrations. In Spain, Carnaval is a widely celebrated event filled with outrageous costumes, large parades, and all-night parties. Though Ibiza’s celebration is mild compared to other parts of the country, it is definitely worth experiencing. For an authentic and outrageous Carnaval experience, world renowned Pacha nightclub is the place to be. Living up to its wild reputation, patrons crowd Pacha dressed in traditional Carnaval garbs, ready to party all night long.
Unlike the summer months, it is much easier to find affordable accommodations in the winter. Located on Figueretas Beach, ten minutes from the center of Ibiza town, Hotel Maritimo provides guests with simple rooms and spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. From the balconies, the landscape stretches and expands, catching the sparkling transparency of the water and sprawling green mountains in the distance. The area surrounding the hotel is very residential so there are few options for breakfast which makes eating breakfast (not included) at the hotel an ideal choice. While walking along the Paseo Maritimo, a few feet from the hotel, you can see visitors and locals sipping cocktails at cafes, watching tanned bodies sunbathe in the warm Spanish sun.
Thirty minutes outside of Ibiza town lies the small village of San Carlos. On a Saturday, it is likely that all of the town’s residents are congregated at Las Dalias, the hippie market. Beginning in the 50’s, Las Dalias offers homemade, artisan products from Spain and around the world. Stalls of brightly colored tapestries and woven leather sandals mix with canopied stands of hand crafted jewelry and fragrant bars of soap. The maze of stalls, seemingly never ending, abruptly opens up into an outdoor bar and restaurant. A small bridge leads the way to a gathering of tables and chairs and an outdoor bar serving chilled cerveza and tortilla Española. The strums of a guitar vibrate off the half-exposed walls blending with the raspy vocals. Chris and the Art of Rock and Roll, a classic rock cover band, keeps the crowds singing and swaying with upbeat, feet tapping tunes.
Many of the restaurants on the island are closed during the winter, which makes dining options pretty slim. However, there is one establishment open that offers authentic, gourmet Italian cuisine—worth every penny. La Tagliatella is a family owned and operated restaurant serving up freshly rolled pastas and hand tossed thin crust pizzas. The Dueño, (as Shannon-my traveling buddy- and I affectionately referred to him by), was a round, robust man sporting a button-down with paisley cuffs and a potbelly hanging over his impeccably pressed trousers. Aside from the Dueño’s eccentric personality, the restaurant sits across from Ibiza’s infamous port—home to stunningly pristine sailboats and lavish million dollar yachts. More spectacular than the breathtaking view is the menu. Traditional Italian dishes such as hand pressed ravioli, lasagna, and fresh antipasti are all acceptable choices however if you really want a true culinary experience than pizza is the way to go.
The Dueño brings a large tray to the table, leaving a trail of steam in the air and a kind warning of its incredible heat. Caramelized slices of eggplant are placed symmetrically on the melted cheese, sinking into the smooth layer of tomato sauce. Freshly shaved Parmigiano reggiano sprinkles the top of the pie, giving the pizza a sharp bitterness in each bite. Finishing the pizza’s impeccable flavor combination, honey balsamic sauce is drizzled lightly overtop, adding an unexpected sweetness to the savory dish.
Like we say in Spain, Buen Provecho!