We take a look at the best family holiday destinations, starting with Ibiza
Summer holidays seem to be the main topic of conversation at the moment don’t they? Where you are going, when, and for how long. Closely followed by the all-important ‘what’s it like for the kids’ ’cause let’s face it, if the kids aren’t well catered for then mum and dad aren’t going to be having that much fun either.
So, we have decided to put together some features about some of our favourite family holiday destinations. Even if you are booked up for this year, this may give you some ideas for next.
First up is Ibiza where our editor Morag Turner heads off to every summer with her husband and three sons.
What makes Ibiza so special?
This island off the coast of Spain has become one of the most popular family holiday destinations in the Med. And for good reason. The laidback vibe and child-friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal place to go to with kids of any age. Yes, it’s famous for its clubs and nightlife, but these days you’ll find just as many families chilling out on the beach as ravers heading for the party scene. Ibiza’s natural beauty combined with great hotels, restaurants and endless activities make it the perfect place to everyone from babies to teenagers.
Ibiza has 80 stunning beaches. From secluded coves to long sandy stretches, they are picture perfect. Simply rock up a and pop your towel on the sand or rent a sun lounger for the day for around €10 to €15.
A firm family favourite is Cala Vadella in the South West which sits on a charming little bay with a very gradual incline into the sea – ideal for younger children. There are a number of great places for lunch right on the beach such as the Maya Beach Club, or simply nip into the village supermarket to grab some sandwiches for the kids to eat on the lounger.
Just a few minutes around the corner is Cala d’Hort, a dreamy little beach with views of Es Vedra, a rock just off the shore that reaches out of the sea and is said to have mystical powers. The restaurant on the beach, El Carmen, does a cracking paella but book a table as soon as you arrive at the beach because it’s a favourite with locals too.
Head further up the west coast to discover Cala Bassa, an amazing long sandy beach that is also home to one of the island’s best beach clubs, CBbC
You’ll find cool shops, a restaurant and bar and sun beds with waiter service. Just a few steps further along the sand you can hire jet skis and arrange other water sports. Cala Bassa has something for everyone to enjoy. This is the kind of place where you arrive in the morning and leave after sunset already planning your next visit.
Talking of sunsets, another spot on the West coast that is famous for its glorious evening vistas is Sunset Ashram on Cala Conta. It’s one of the island’s most popular restaurants. During the day the beach is packed with locals who love the crystal clear water and snorkelling. Then by evening the restaurant takes on a cool, hippy vibe as the sun goes down with chill-out tunes and great cocktails. A very cool spot to hang out until the day draws in and the kids get tired.
If the hippy scene is your thing – and even if you don’t think it is, when you’re in Ibiza you’ll suddenly love embracing it – then head to the north of the island to Benirrás beach. Every Sunday evening this sheltered bay is home to musicians who come to ‘drum down the sunset’.
This iconic hippie ritual has become a real tourist attraction but yet still feels very upspoit and relaxed. Even if the music doesn’t appeal, the beach is a gorgeous place to while away the hours and don’t forget to pop into the Elements restaurant which has a fantastic menu and is super kid friendly.
Where to Stay
There are so many different accommodation options in Ibiza that are great for families, with something to suit every budget and taste. From traditional to minimalist, you’ll find it all on the White Isle.
For those want peace and privacy a villa is the ideal option. There are thousands of them scattered all over the area. Unlike France and Greece, not that many have gated pools, so you’ll have to do a bit of research to find one of those. Rental companies such as Unique Ibiza Villas and Ibiza Rural Villas are a great place to start. Or check out Air BnB where you’ll find a huge selection of villas and apartments.
Fun for all the Family
If the beach isn’t enough to amuse your gang then there are tons of other activities to get up to.
Kids love a waterpark and there are a couple of good ones to choose from. Aguamar (next to Space nightclub), in Playa d’en Bossa, has plenty of parking, a range of different slides and pools (including paddling pools for smaller kids), picnic areas, a decent restaurant and a play park.
For kids and adults who can swim, Ocean Mania Waterpark in San Antonio is great fun, and is essentially an inflatable playground in the sea. The park is a bit like an assault course, and the inflatable circuit has rope swings, trampolines, balancing beams and slides.
For a really fun day out head to In S’Argamassa, between Santa Eulalia and Es Canar in the east of the island, where the Acrobosc Adventure Park has an exciting set-up in the pine trees involving ziplines, trampolines, slides, nets, ladders, climbing walls, tightropes and rope bridges. There are three circuits of graded difficulty to suit children from three years old up to teenagers – although adults can join in the fun too. Everyone is kitted out with harnesses and tuition is provided before letting them loose.
If you fancy trying out horse-riding, then Active Ibiza offer amazing sessions that cater for complete beginners right through to more experienced riders. The kids’ package has basic tuition provided in the paddock before a gentle trek on small horses, with a maximum of four children in the group. The route through the interior of the island leads through fields and farmland. A great thing to do if you fancy a break from the beach.
One of the nicest ways to see Ibiza is from the sea. Often you will find small dinghies available to hire along with paddle boards from the water sports companies found on most of the larger beaches. There are also lots of companies that offer boat trips, charters or let you to hire your own small boat for the day. Star Boats Ibiza have great little six person boats that you can hire without a licence just to stay close to shore and potter in an out of the coves. It costs €180 for the morning which isn’t cheap, but is a lot less expensive than chartering a larger boat and is such great fun.
However, if you do fancy hopping aboard a speedboat or yacht, get in touch with the likes of Charteralia or Smart Charter Ibiza who will sort you out with skipper and take you on a fantastic tour of the island and beyond.
Pop over to Formentera
Ibiza’s little sister island Formentera is definitely worth at least a day trip. It’s small, unspoilt and has stunning beaches with great restaurants. A really fun day out. There are lots of different ways to reach it by boat but for a simple, inexpensive day trip try Aqua Bus Ferry Boats who do regular trips back and forth from a few ports on Ibiza and as well as various excursions. When you are there head to Besso Beach Club for great people watching and wonderful food.
Visit the Old Town
No trip to the White Isle is complete without a trip to the beautiful Old town with its narrow cobbled streets lined with wonderful little restaurants and boutiques. Head there early evening if you are taking the kids and enjoy a lovely stroll around the marina and the old city walls before it gets busy later on.
Ibiza is shopping heaven and the markets are the best place to pick up some unusual holiday buys. Think floaty kaftans, beach bags and beaded bracelets as well as artisan homewares.
There are markets on most days all over the island but one of the best is Las Dalias hippy market in San Carlos. It’s home to around 200 stalls where you can find crafts from all over the globe, clothes and antiques. It’s open every Saturday and weekday evenings during the summer.
Another shopping experience that’s a real must-see is Sluiz in Santa Gertrudis, a picturesque little village in the centre of the island.
This store is an eclectic treasure trove of homeware and fashion that has become a real destination for those looking to take back something special from their holiday. Definitely check it out.
Check out these website for more general information on Ibiza as well as villa rentals.
Top image: Cotton Beach Club Ibiza