First off, let me tell you that Ibiza should be (and is frequently) pronounced Ibitha, although lots of variations exist such as Ibissa, Evissa, Eivissa, and so on. The word “Ibitha” sounds a bit funny which is why many Americans don’t use this pronunciation but it is the correct way.
This review is from when I was there between June 29 and July 2, 2001. During my second backpacking trip to Europe, I made it a priority to see this place of legend. This trip was a few months before 9-11 and I’ve been hearing that the summers of 2002 and 2003 were somewhat slower because of terrorism fears.
I first heard of the island years ago but most people I’d mention it to had no idea what it was. It turns out that North Americans are relatively clueless about Ibitha, although it has become increasingly popular thanks to shows like “Wild on Ibiza” on E. I see it like this: Americans and Canadians go down to Cancun and the Caribbean Islands to party while Europeans and especially Brits go to Ibiza since it’s a similar distance and you really get the feeling you are getting away from it all.
“…the foam did have a major effect on the women in this place. When it started to pour and they got wet, they stripped down to their bikinis or bra and underwear…”
From the ancient city of Valencia, Spain, I took the the 3-hour high speed ferry (which was something like $50 USD). The cheapest way to get to the ferry is to take the city bus from the train station which is a bit of shlep. Anyhow, on board the ferry I met a bunch of Americans, Australians, and Kiwis who were all just as curious as I was to see what all the fuss was about. We were all hanging out in the front bar area of the ferry which is something I recommend for meeting people.
When we arrived, many people didn’t have a place to stay and I was among that group. So, I did what I had to do which was leave my new acquaintances in a hurry in search of someplace to stay. I rushed over to the heart of the little town right by the port which is actually Eivissa but most frequently called Ibiza Town. Note that the name ‘Ibiza’ refers to both the island of Ibiza and the town of Ibiza. Luckily I found a hostel room which was seriously like a hotel.
The problem is that they ran out of single rooms so I paid about $35 (USD) for a double room. This doesn’t sound like much but when you have to pay for a room or bed every single night of 6-week backpacking vacation, it adds up. Anyway, what’s worse is that I arrived on a Thursday and got my room for that night but they were booked for the weekend. So I ended up partying all night and went back to my room and checked out at 11am in search of a new place to stay.
So you’d think I had it ‘bad’. Well, later on I found out that a bunch of people didn’t go clubbing because they couldn’t find a place to stay and leave their bags. The reality is that this island fills up so be smart and try to book in advance or arrive mid-week. Ok, so like I said, I checked out of the first hostel at 11am. It took about an hour of door to door searching in the hot sun and with my backpack on, but I found what I honestly believe was the LAST HOTEL ROOM on the island. Actually they had TWO tiny rooms available and I took one immediately. It was a very decent hotel in a very good location and as a bonus it had a pool (complete with a bunch of hot topless women from London) and included breakfast. It was a good time to pray to God – whether or not I believed in God was irrelevant at that point!
There are also camp grounds on the island but I wasn’t equipped for that type of experience. Some people don’t even bother with accomodations and instead place their bags in lockers during their stay. One problem with this (aside from shower issues!) is that apparently the main locker space is at the port where the ferry arrives and you can only access your belongings during the day. Sleep is not a problem for these partyers because they claim that that’s what the beach is for!
The Ibiza clubscene is the stuff of legends. There are a few main clubs that you must check out: Amnesia, Privilege, Pacha, and Space. Note that each club has its own specialty. Privilege is home of the famous Manumission Mondays. Space is the club to go to if the club you were at closed and it’s 8am. That’s right! Space opens at eight in the morning and it’s packed!
My opinion of Privilege is that it wasn’t all that impressive. For real. The dance floor was concrete which was very lame. They claim to be the largest club in the world but I would argue that it’s only because they have a very high ceiling which increases their square footage. I think the Palace just outside of Boston is better than this place!
“…The main beaches were packed with women who were topless and wearing thong bikini bottoms…”
On the night I went to Privilege, the main DJ was absolutely horrible and all of the people that I spoke to about it agreed. You’d think that everyone who got a chance to show off their music in a place like Ibiza would be great but simply wasn’t the case. The DJ at this club was really crappy – his sound, rhythms, and overall tunes sucked which made it hard to dance to.
Pacha night club was totally happening and the vibes kept you dancing all night and into the morning hours. I really get a kick out of going to a club sometime during the night and coming out with the sun coming up and literally hundreds of tired partyers walking back to their rooms.
The Foam Party
The foam party at Amnesia was worth the trip but here is the scoop that you won’t read anywhere else. Amnesia is just another club with a balcony on the second floor that circles the dance floor. When you look up to see the foam machines, you’ll also see a bunch of paid scantily clad women dancing around. While it’s cool at first, the excitement wears off quickly as you await the foam.
Oh yes, the foam. Me and this pretty cool Mexican dude that I was hanging out with arrived at the club around 1am-ish. We waited for hours for the foam but aside from a number of very minor ‘squirts’, nothing was happening. I asked a barmaid who said it would all happen at 6am. Right on cue, at 6am the foam began pouring down. So if you are partying elsehwere, you can get here at 6am and still not miss anything.
Once the foam starts, it really really comes down. In fact, it came down so fast and thick that it quickly covered my head and I’m 5-11!
Some people ran to the side or climbed speakers to escape it, especially those who were really short. The foam keeps pouring down until water washes it away a few minutes later. Then the foam starts to pour again and the cycle continues for about an hour.
The foam itself tastes like crap, stings your eyes, makes it difficult to breathe, is very sticky when it dries, and ruined my shoes! Ok, so I was wearing crappy shoes to begin with. Anyhow the foam did have a major effect on the women in this place. When it started to pour and they got wet, they stripped down to their bikinis or bra and underwear and went nuts dancing, making out with guys they just met and just overall craziness. It was an interesting event to experience, even if the foam did blur the view through my shades!
On my way out I noticed a coat check where you could leave your dry clothes because make no mistake about it – you will be completely soaked by the foam. Upon leaving the club, a bunch of cabs were waiting outside but refused to let anyone in since they were wet and sticky. The Mexican guy I was with spoke Spanish and convinced one of them to take us back to our hotels but it took quite the convincing. Of course, if you had rented a moped, you could easily hop on and get back to your place, although the Ibiza cops have a very low tolerance for partyers riding their mopeds while high on drugs or drunk so watch out for that.
Clubbing and Saving Money
Conventional wisdom would have it that when someone comes up to you on the street and offers to sell you a ticket to a club at a discounted rate, you tell them to f-o. Well, in Ibiza the opposite is true! Ticket prices for clubs are frequently $30-50 (USD) but there are many people who promote various clubs by simply walking around and selling tickets for a lot less than the price at the door, and their tickets may even include a drink. I suggest buying from these people. You can also walk into many bars in Ibiza Town and ask to buy tickets to various clubs and they will likely sell you these discounted specials.
There’s a party bus that is cheap and picks you up at specific locations around the Island. There tends to be long lines for it and so local people often pull up to the line and act as taxis. They charge a lot more than taxis and illegally pocket the cash but if you don’t want to wait in line for the party bus then it’s up to you.
I do feel that I must add one more comment here about the clubs in Ibiza overall: To be perfectly honest, I have been to equally awesome clubs and raves in Montreal, as compared to some of the clubs and party nights that I attended in Ibiza. You can find great clubs all over the world but it’s the experience of a place like Ibiza that changes everything. Think about it…thousands of people come to party all night and day and visit the beaches.
The shoreline of Ibiza is actually one giant beach! The beaches are divided into dozens of sections with their own flavors. Some have partial or full nudity, some have restaurants, bars and washrooms, and some you can’t get to without your own transportation. The tourist office in Ibiza Town has a map and info of all the beaches around the island.
I spent most of my beach time at Playa D’en Bossa which is an easy city bus ride from Ibiza Town. I noticed that most of the people here were in pretty descent shape. The main beaches were packed with women who were topless and wearing thong bikini bottoms. And ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING GOES here. So you had women who were completely flat-chested and others who were 400 pounds – it didn’t matter, they were topless and wearing thongs! Most of the guys were in decent shape or better, not that I was really noticing.
Shopping for Clubber Clothes
If you’re looking for cool clubbing clothes, Ibiza is a great place to shop. There are a lot of stores with many unique types of clothing styles. I personally love all the styles with flashing lights built into the shirts and pants! There are also numerous merchants who set up tables at night and sell all kinds of touristy items. I didn’t buy an Ibiza club shirt which were quite popular but I did get my hands on an exclusive Ibiza CD which was quite good. You can find a few ATM’s and money exchanges around the city.
Cafe Del Mar and Beyond
There are many little cities and areas on and near this tiny island and if you spend enough time here, you may get to see them all.
I never made it to the other side of the island where the popular city of San Antonio lies. Within San Antonio you will find the famous Cafe Del Mar. This Cafe is known for its apparently amazing views of sunsets which are set to music. It made a name for itself around the world by distributing CDs of the music they play as the sun sets.
I also didn’t have a chance to take the day trip to the nearby island of Palma de Mallorca which is apparently a great place to visit. Ibiza itself also has a historical side which is probably worth a visit. The ability to speak Spanish is a bonus but most of the people you will deal with as a visitor will speak English.
The Bottom Line
In sum, here’s what I recommend: You can have a great time (as I did) if you go alone but I think you can have that much of a better time if you’re with someone you know. Book accommodations in advance, especially for weekends. You can take buses all over the island but at some point during the night they stop for a few hours. One Idea might be to rent scooters which are very cheap and use them to explore the island. On the other hand, if you drink or do drugs, you probably won’t be in a condition to drive.