Travel and tourism may be more accessible than ever, but along with crowds snapping selfies with famous monuments, coveted pastries, and partying, some of the world’s more popular destinations, they also bring strain on local communities. And holiday mecca Ibiza is a good example.
Each year millions of flock here for its white sand beaches, Instagrammably chic style and of course, its electronic music and party scene. Permanent residents love to share the beauty and culture of their island, but they also feel the environmental and cultural impacts of all those visitors. Earlier this year, residents even held protests agains overtourism.
That doesn’t mean they want an end to tourism, of course, but rather more sustainable management, as well as mindfulness of how we as visitors can enjoy the islands while respecting its environment and supporting local development. Here are just six examples of how you can have an unforgettable holiday and still keep Ibiza beautiful for your future visits.
Ibiza’s booming culinary scene means many restaurants serve delectable foods like tapas, fusions, and Italian pasta from organic ingredients. There’s no shortage of delicious, but opting for certain restaurants over others will support small businesses and long-standing family-run establishments.
Also, look for eateries serving freshly caught fish – the closer proximity to the water the better – or those that explicitly state they’re farm-to-fork. And snack on recently baked flatbreads from weekly “hippie markets” across the island, such as the Mercadillo Sant Joan in the town of Sant Joan de Labritja, in the northeast of the island, barely a half-hour drive from Eivissa (Ibiza town). And think outside the box. If your accommodation has a kitchen, grab your produce from farmer’s markets or the eco-village Casita Verde, a short hop inland from Eivissa, and meats from local butchers (trust me, the sobrassada spiced sausage, above, is worth it alone!).
Yes, Eivissa’s La Marina and Vara del Rey areas prominently feature international brands and chain stores, but there’s far more to island shopping. Locally-made attire and souvenirs are not only more memorable, but also cut down on their carbon footprint. This island is home to dozens of small shops and weekly markets, so there’s no shortage of shopping opportunities. Handmade soaps, wicker, artisan jewelry, distinctive white clothing, and tapestries will all add a charming touch of Ibiza to your home.
Choose Accommodation Wisely
When choosing where to stay, it can feel overwhelming to stick to a budget and consider proximity to points of interest, let alone recognize if your accommodation is sustainable. Choosing to a few items to keep an eye out for – such as solar panels, recycling, and food waste policies – can help decipher a good find without stressing you out. If you can, dig deeper into other elements. Is it locally owned? Is it a leaking sewage into the ocean? Is it using ingredients grown on site for its restaurant?
Help Clean Up the Beach
While millions enjoy the island’s 210 kilometres (130 miles) of stunning coastline, they also leave behind rubbish that pollutes the water and dirties the landscape. Many local environmental and tourist groups like Love Ibiza, Ibiza Limpia, and The Nature Project sponsor frequent (sometimes weekly) beach clean-ups. Volunteers gather to spend an afternoon scouring the sand for leftover plastics and waste, eventually piling up their devastatingly sad treasure trove for a vivid display of negative human impact.
Get Around More Effectively
Public transportation is generally a great way to circulate on Ibiza, but the bus won’t always get you to the hidden calas (coves), the more breathtaking hiking spots, or conveniently to some of the charming inland towns. Before you rent a car, however, consider if you can opt for a moto (scooter). Throughout the island, parking is limited and especially at popular spots like Cala Benirras and Sant Antoni de Portmany. This more compact option not only consumes less petrol, but means more time soaking up the sun than circling the block for an empty parking spot.
Sure, Steve Aoki and David Guetta are smokin’, but have you kayaked around the magical rock Es Vedrà at sunset (top), or inhaled the fragrance of pine trees while the dirt path of an oceanside cliff crunched below your feet? Visitors to the island can access any outdoor adventures, from sailing to cycling and hiking. The more you immerse yourself in the natural landscape of this environmentally and culturally rich island, the more you’ll want to protect it.