22 March 2017 – Party Island?
Ibiza a party island? In summer perhaps. We discover natural beauty, the lovely Greenheart Ibiza & Casita Verde people, and meet old and new friends.
The sun has started to warm the cockpit when we climb out of the cabin in the morning. The crystal clear water that surrounds us is tempting. We jump in, only to quickly climb out again. Wow, that’s chilly! We rinse off with fresh water from our deck shower and dry up in the sun. While we enjoy breakfast and coffee, the stressful anchoring situation from last night seems far away. We know we are firmly anchored now with both our Rocna and Fortress anchors in use. Time to kayak to the shore and start our explorations.
Our anchorage at Cala Talamanca is next to Ibiza’s largest natural bay. Ibiza Town was built on this bay, as well as a large ferry pontoons and marinas. We learn that even the cheapest marina is notoriously expensive in high season. For our boat they ask close to €400 a night in July/August. Luckily, March is still considered low season, evidenced by a daily rate of one tenth of that. Still, with so many pretty bays all around the island we decide to stay on the anchor as much as possible.
Via the harbour we reach Ibiza Town. It’s sunny and warm and the castle of the medieval city towers above us. The perfect setting for a reunion with our friend Alice, who just arrived. Together we discover the old centre, Dalt Vila. Its elevation, impressive walls and many cannons give it the looks of an enormous fortress. Inside there are many historic, well maintained houses. We enjoy the magnificent views over a large part of Ibiza, the harbour, and neighbouring island Formentera. We even spot Luci in the distance, patiently waiting at the anchorage for our return.
Going Green in Casita Verde
The next day, Chris Dews pays us a visit. Chris is the director of Greenheart Ibiza, and founder of Casita Verde, an ecotourism and education centre. He’s the reason we sailed here in the first place. We had never been on Ibiza and thought of it as a party and yoga island. However, when we learned about Chris and his great initiative, we changed our minds. Eager to learn more about ecotourism and education on Ibiza, we happily accept his invitation to spend the night at Casita Verde.
Chris is full of energy. He proudly wears a necklace with a green heart. “Everybody has a green heart. All we need to do is bring it out.” Over a drink on-board, the former merchant-navy sailor explains how he arrived more or less coincidentally on Ibiza 26 years ago. He’s involved in many sustainability initiatives on the island, and talks passionately about eco-living, waste recycling, solar energy, local products and better, greener governance. When he takes Alice and us with him to Casita Verde, he points out a few clubs from the highway. “They’re all closed now, just like most hotels. In the low-season, this is really not a party island at all”.
On the last few kilometres to Casita Verde, the road gets narrow. Steep curves force us to slow down, and when we cross a mountain pass we can’t believe our eyes. A beautiful green valley opens up, with the blue sea in the distance. At a yellow “Casita Verde” sign we turn right, and the four-wheel drive car makes itself useful during the last few hundred meters bumpy off-road. “Welcome to Casita Verde” says Chris when we stop. Spanish for “little green house”, we understand the name when we tour Chris’ home. The former piggery runs on solar energy and collected rainwater. In fact the entire estate is “off the grid”. Casita Verde is the base of the “Greenheart Ibiza” movement, which stimulates sustainable behaviour on the island and beyond.
Dotted around the estate we encounter all types of small homes, made from natural and recycled materials. “Legally these aren’t homes, so no building restrictions apply” Chris explains with a smile. They range from a bottle house made from empty glass bottles and clay, to a Mongolian tent made from wood, canvas and wool, to a cave house made in a natural cavity, with daylight from the roof. Alice checks into the “Gaia centre”, made from local stone, clay and wood. We lodge in the “carob tree house”, a hut made around a living carob tree. All dwellings have one thing in common: they are beautifully decorated and very cosy.
Under a bright sun and a blue sky we learn more about what makes Casita Verde “eco”. For more info on this eco-tourism and education solution, read our article and see our video here.
We are anxious to see more of Ibiza and sail for Cala Llonga. This small but very well sheltered bay is only 8 nm further, and with a westerly wind we easily sail there using only our genoa. We drop our “tandem” anchor, and look around. The crystal clear blue water, the large sandy beach and the green and steep cliffs make us feel like being in a tropical paradise. Unfortunately, some hotels also found this beautiful spot. They are still closed, so at least we have the bay to ourselves.
Chris lent us a car, which is still at Cala Talamanca, so we need to hike back to get it. A stunning two-hour hike along fields, farms and forests follows. The paths are reasonably good, but the lack of any signs or marks surprises us. What an opportunity to attract more hiking enthusiasts to this island. After a short drive, we’re back in Cala Llonga. Now we can keep an eye on the car from the boat.
The next morning we spot an orange buoy. It’s close to the rocks, not far from us. When we look closer, we can see it moving. A rope is connected it to… a snorkeler! Inspired by this snorkelling stranger we dig up our own gear. We haven’t used it since our diving-refreshing training back home around a year ago. The water temperature is only 15 degrees, so we’ll need our wetsuits. When we jump into water, it feels cold, but only for the first few seconds. Soon we can enjoy the underwater world. Colourful fish hide inside the poseidonia as we approach. We realize how important this seagrass is for the ecosystem, it cleans the water and provides shelter for all types of sea creatures. We extensively tour the bay. Before we getting out of the water again, we make use of the opportunity to inspect Luci’s bottom. The propeller, rudder, and anodes all look fine, so we just clean the hull a bit.
When our friends Truus, Sylvain and Annemiek arrive on the island. We pick them up in Chris’s car and when we reach the bay they are overwhelmed. From cold, rainy Amsterdam to almost-paradise in only a few of hours! In the afternoon we are off to the local and organic Saturday market, where we buy fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, olives and other local specialties. We enjoy a lovely “veggie paella” lunch with an aloe vera juice from Casita Verde, deliciously prepared by staff members Estefania and Alberto.
After lunch it’s time for a hike. We drive to Santa Agnes and leave the car. Floris proposes a route that takes us trough forests, active and abandoned farms. When we reach a very steep cliff, we get a spectacular view on the northern side of Ibiza. It is magical as the sea fog moves into the bay. On land the sun is unchallenged, and during the rest of our hike the visibility remains fine. When we get back at Cala Llonga, however, the sea fog has also reached Luci. We’re just able to see her, and kayak through the cold, wet silence to get back on-board. As we light the woodstove to get warm, we check the weather forecast. Perhaps the fog preluded it, but there’s bad weather on its way to us.
The strong easterly wind that is forecast makes Cala Llonga a lee-shore. Our shallow, paradise-like bay might become a foaming nightmare with breaking waves. We discuss the options with our friends and they kindly sponsor a night in the sheltered nearby marina.
The next morning we sail to Santa Eulalia, and check in at the marina. It’s similarly priced to Ibiza Town, and the facilities are excellent. We enjoy a shower, and get ready to hike back to the car that is still at Cala Llonga. After another beautiful route, we drive our friends up to Casita Verde for the Sunday luncheon. They’re as amazed as we were, but one thing is different. We can provide them with a tour in Dutch now!
Annemiek and Sylvain leave us after the weekend, while Truus has more time and stays a bit longer. She sails with us to Cala Porroig, a beautiful bay on the west coast. We helped clean it a week ago during a beach clean-up organized by Greenheart Ibiza. Now it provides us with excellent shelter to the continuing easterly winds. After a smooth trip, we learn that a mooring is much easier than anchoring here. And still for free in the low season. Lucky us.
This time it’s a bit more complicated to retrieve our car, Santa Eulalia is more than 30km away. But we manage to get it with a combination of hiking, hitchhiking and a local bus. The next day Truus leaves us too, but only after a morning hike to the “Torre de Salvinas” and a delicious farewell lunch in Sant Josep.
During the next few days there’s not a lot of wind. We stay in Cala Porroig, making a routine out of a daily morning swims in the crystal clear water, followed by us drying up in the sun while having breakfast. We spend some time blogging and vlogging. Via Chris, we meet several Ibiza residents that turn our to be great people. Among them is Agathe from France, who also helps us to find sustainable solutions in her home country. Karin from Germany is active in the Oceanic movement to prevent plastic pollution. And Wietske from the Netherlands runs the Ibiza dolphin project. We share her love and enthusiasm for these great animals immediately. Giada from Italy helps Chris with communications and runs a beautiful blog about the island. We are even invited for drinks by Dutchies Bart and Philip, friends of friends who have a beautiful house on the island. And everyone we meet is also very enthusiastic about our project, which is really heart-warming.
To return the favour of Chris’ generosity and kindness, we invite him and the Casita Verde staff for a day of sailing. Together with Cubanito – his 5-year long staff member who will run his own Casita Verde in Granada soon – and Giada, they arrive at the beach. After they’ve all kayaked on-board, we provide a short tour of the boat. Our guests store the Aloe Vera juice, Chris’ famous quiche, local wine and many more delicious treats. We hoist the sails and head towards the characteristic Es Vedra rock. Without any waves, the sailing is very smooth. We can all relax and share stories while our lovely Casita Verde crew provides us with excellent catering. The sun is already setting when we tie up to the mooring again. A super day, and saying goodbye hurts. We love you guys. We feel honoured by the Greenheart necklaces that you brought for us as presents. And we naturally look forward to our next visit when we return to Ibiza, and to visiting Cubanito in Granada later in the year.
In the evening we catch up with our sailing friends Karin and Jeroen from “White Pearl”. They saw where we were on AIS and sailed to our bay. For more than a year, they were ahead of us in their journey from the Netherlands to the Mediterranean Sea and we learned a lot from their blog. Only recently we overtook them. During a dinner at theirs and coffee on our boat the next morning, we exchange experiences and plans. Hopefully we’ll meet you guys again later!
After learning of so many great initiatives and making so many new friends, it’s hard to think about moving on. But that’s what we need to do. The wind is returning and we sail to the northwest part of the island as a small step in the direction of mainland Spain.
Via the remote anchorage of Isla Conillera, we spend our last Ibiza-night in another beautiful bay: Cala Salada. One last time, we enjoy the protection of a well-sheltered bay on a free mooring. One last time, we jump into the crystal clear water as our morning shower, and dry up in the sun while having breakfast. One last time, we blog and vlog from a sunny cockpit with a stunning view. When a fair westerly wind picks up, we set sail for Barcelona.
Party Island? Perhaps in the summer. We discovered a very different Ibiza. An amazing island with stunning natural beauty and lovely people. We enjoyed spending time with old and new friends. And are truly inspired by the eco-tourism, education and other sustainability initiatives that are taking place. We are convinced they usher in a new reputation, that of a green and sustainable pearl in the Mediterranean Sea. Wonderful Ibiza, you’ve strengthened our green hearts. We’ll miss you.