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Ibiza rocks: The White Isle's alter-ego

Never mind its reputation for hedonism, Ibiza can be as serene and salubrious as you want it to be

Ibiza isn't all about the party.
Ibiza isn't all about the party.
TUI Sensimar Ibiza Beach resort
View from Senismar Ibiza beach resort overlooking bay at Portinatx
Hippy Market Punta Arabí IBIZA
Playa de Talamanca Ibiza.

By Martin Breen

For many the island of Ibiza is synonymous with partying and nightclubs. Having been an Ibiza virgin, I knew many friends who had spent their holidays as students living it up on the White Isle. In fact, when they heard I was going, they asked if I had a newfound love of dance music (the answer is no).

But on my first trip to the beautiful Balearic island, I found my resort was a world away from the clubs of San Antonio and Ibiza Town.

Travelling from Belfast with TUI to its adults-only Sensimar Ibiza Beach Resort in Portinatx, I actually found it the perfect spot for a quiet and relaxing holiday.

The village is just a 30-minute drive from the airport, lies on the north-east coast of the island and is home to some of the most stunning bays I have ever seen. Little wonder one was chosen as the backdrop for the 1958 movie South Pacific.

Portinatx is quite a small village set in pine-forested countryside, with around 15 cosy bars and restaurants and a choice of three beaches: S’Arenal Gros (the largest), S’Arenal Petit (smaller) and Playa Porto Beach. At each expect to see crystal-clear blue water, where you can enjoy watersports, hire a pedalo, do some snorkelling or simply enjoy the golden-sand beaches.

Apparently the Mediterranean waters are an incredible blue colour due to the seaweed forest of Poseidon, which filters the water and adds a luminous quality to the sunlight reflected on the sea and makes the green landscape even lusher.

The TUI Sensimar Ibiza Beach Resort, which has a sleek, contemporary feel, sits in an idyllic location with steps down to the small S’Arenal Petit beach and a cluster of top-notch restaurants and bars where you can enjoy fresh, sumptuous seafood and other dishes. Top of my recommendations would be Zulu Lounge, Cabalito del Mar, Jardin del Mar and Es Grop.

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At the hotel, which offers all-inclusive options, the food is also very good and offers a wide variety with different themed evenings, tapas and a large buffet breakfast (try their freshly made omelettes — they are superb).

The hotel’s beachfront position gives you breathtaking views from the pool terrace and bar and restaurant. You could easily spend hours taking in the view over the ocean and watching all the sailing boats coming into the bay.

I stayed in a room with a balcony where you could sit out in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer or two.

The resort boasts two pools, with extras like Bali beds, whirlpool baths and a pirate ship for children.

If you fancy something more strenuous than lifting a book or a cocktail as you lie on a sunlounger, the hotel offers a range of activities every day. These include aqua fitness, table tennis, wine tasting, beach bat and ball, yoga and cocktail courses. You can also relax in the hotel spa, which boasts a pool with jets and hydro-massage beds, a sauna and steam room, and a cabin for massages.

Through your TUI representative you can book a range of excursions further afield, including the Sunset Ibiza, Catamaran Ibiza Day and a trip to Formentera — a white and sandy paradise island that’s just 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza Town.

TUI Sensimar Ibiza Beach resort
TUI Sensimar Ibiza Beach resort

For a fun family day out, Aguamar is a waterpark located in central Playa d’en Bossa with water chutes to suit all levels of thrillseekers and plenty of space to enjoy the sun while the youngsters go off on their aquatic adventures, if waterslides aren’t your thing.

The only time I left Portinatx during my stay was to see the Hippy Market in Punta Arabi (Es Canar). It’s the largest and oldest on the island and dates back to 1969, when hippies would meet up and sell their wares. Today it is still a treasure trove of local and imported trinkets, clothing, art and other collectibles with up to 500 stalls.

If you want to see more of the island, you can hire a car and explore its treasures as you wish, or for an easier way to see more of the island, try the Ibiza Express tourist train. Priced at €16 for adults and €8 for children with under-threes free, it’s great value for an information-packed, three-hour journey.

One stop to mark on your itinerary should be the caves at Can Marca, where dramatically lit underground lakes and waterfalls, stalagmites and stalactites, and tales of smugglers add up to an exciting excursion.

There is also a bus service which will bring you to Ibiza Town if you fancy a big night out or seeing a livelier part of the island. Ibiza Old Town was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, so you could enjoy exploring its cobbled streets and winding alleyways.

First settled in 654BC as a trading post for the Phoenicians, who named it after Ibossim, their god of music and dancing, the beauty of Ibiza is not only in what you see there but in how it offers all kinds of holidays and attracts all types of holidaymakers. For example, regular visitors there include everyone from the D-list stars of TOWIE to the A-list likes of Ed Sheeran, Orlando Bloom and Kate Moss,

My mission (which I fully accomplished, I am pleased to say) was to just recharge the batteries, and that is why I didn’t stray far from Portinatx, as it truly is a haven of peace and relaxation.

Travel Factfile

  • TUI offer direct flights from Belfast to Ibiza. The flight time is around three hours and transfers to your hotel and 20kg luggage are included
  • TUI Sensimar Ibiza Beach Resort information
  • Bed & Breakfast: July 16 for seven nights, £868pp
  • All Inclusive: July 16 for seven nights, £1,129pp
  • To book your trip, visit or drop into your nearest TUI store

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