Let’s face it: Formentera is not the most suitable island for a family holiday with toddlers in tow. When you think of Formentera, many conjure up images of sunsets and aperitifs, wild naturist beaches, and scooter rides with your fiancé to find the trendiest restaurant on the island. You won’t find many beaches equipped with showers and nappy changing facilities, or offering rides and carousels or even the odd stall selling toys.
But, because we were missing a little the hey-days of when we were young and free, we decided to go nevertheless, taking along our 7-year-old twins. In August…
Well, in two days we fell in love with the island and wondered why we had not come before…
You can only reach Formentaera by sea, using one of the many ferries that sail daily to the island from Ibiza. Consulatate il sito. They run every half an hour and the sailing time is 30 minutes. At the airport in Ibiza you can buy a combo ticket which includes a bus ride from the airport + ferry (luggage included). It’s worth the money.
Once on the island you need to rent a car, so that you can discover the best beaches (usually those off-the-beaten-path…)
There are several car hire companies at Savina harbour. If you travel in August it’s best to reserve one beforehand.
Where to stay
In Formentera, staying in a flat offers you more flexibility, especially if you have children: www.airbandb.com. There are little food stores all over the island, so grocery shopping is never a problem.
We opted for an aparthotel with swimming pool in case the beaches would be too crowded in the afternoon: www.paraisolospinos.com and do not regret it. It’s not ideally located near the beaches, but if you have a car, in 15 minutes you’ll get where you want.
The highlight of the island (as you can see from the photos) are the beaches, heavenly (even in August) and the sea. You had better take your kids early in the morning, as the crowds arrive in the afternoon. Bring a beach umbrella as, very often, you won’t find any shade.
(photo taken by me on 12 August at 11.30 AM)
There are numerous beaches, and we had no time to visit them all. Here are some we’ve been to:
Playa Ses Illetes: the most famous and photogenic beach of all, but also the most crowded, located inside a natural park. You can reach it by car but the paying car park is quite a trek away. Some areas are equipped with beach chairs and umbrellas, and there’s also a handful of restaurants. The water is shallow and the sand soft and fine.
Playa de Migjorn: it is 6 kms long, which makes it the largest in Formentera, as well as one of the most enjoyable. There are cliffs and little bays with the finest sand you can imagine. Swimwear is optional, and there are restaurants, too.
Playa Es Arenals: a busy beach near playa Migjorn. It’s well-equipped with beach chairs and umbrellas. It’s located near the Maryland Hotel Complex (a holiday resort with 320 bungalows).
You should really not miss the Es Cap de Barbaria Lighthouse, a promontory with an 18 metres high majestic lighhouse. From there you have compelling views over the cliffs below, which will leave you breathless.
After you park your car at the public parking lot, you then have to walk for 2 kms along a gravel road. There’s no shade so I recommend that you visit it in the late afternoon, or (as in our case) if the skies are grey.
Near the lighthouse, on the left, you’ll find a hole in the ground, with a ladder. Be brave and get into the hole, eventually you’ll reach a natural cave. If you keep going, you’ll reach a window overlooking the sea. Spectacular
Another great trip is the walk to the end of the playa des Illetes. Once there you can admire the famous stone pyramids (or totems) made with stones piled on top of each other. Creating your own one (higher, possibly) with you kids is surely fun.
As I have mentioned, there are not many kid-friendly attractions on the island. The best child attraction all over the island is the Alien show at the Blue Bar along the famous Playa de Migjorn, right by the sea: it’s really nothing to write home about, an alien that dances for 2 minutes to a tune; but to a kids it’s a must-do experience and they will love you for it. You can sip their famous aperitif there at sunset; don’t forget to order a portion of nachos with melted cheese: they are delicious.
Markets and shops
Formentera is famus for having been, in the past, a hippie haven. What is left of those days is the alla Mola Market (on the highest part of the island) every Wednesday and Sunday, from June to October, at 4 PM. Many stalls sell local crafts, there’s live music and many people.
Es Pujols, is the beating heart of the island, as well as the most touristy destination in Formentera. Here you can find the highest number of bars, restaurants, hotels and shops. The market takes place from May to September, from 8 PM to 12 PM (perfect for an evening stroll). If you are fond of the Argentinian Paez shoes, you can buy them at the “Il Vapore” shop.
I found the little market in Savinary very nice, every day in July and August, from 11 AM to 2 PM and from 5 PM to midnight, on the promenade by the harbor. It’s the one with the nicest stalls.
A real must-see is Sant Francesc Xavier, the most important town on the island. Go in the morning for its market where you can buy local crafts, hand-made jewels, clothes and a lot more. The shop called “Vintage” in the square, sells unique jewels and clothes.
Finally the art market which takes place in Sant Ferran de ses Roques, on your way to La Mola or Es Pujols; it’s open from May to October, daily except Wednesday and Sunday, from 7 PM till midnight.
If you love local designer clothes, take a look at boutique del ristorante 10.7 near playa Migjorn, it’s my favourite.
Thank you very much to Catherine for her precious tips on this magical island!