- Since Eivissa possesses such a large and extensive deep-water port, it enjoys a wide range of boating facilities.
- Arrival at Eivissa by sea is quite a landfall and rather thrilling on a small boat.
- The palm-lined stone quays have more than a whiff of the tropical about them.
- You absorb the balmy October weather, the whispering palms, the blue water and the immaculate craft, and you are in powerboat heaven.
visits this bewitching Mediterranean island …
soldiers, sybarites, poets, hippies, artists and hard-core clubbers have long
been drawn to this Mediterranean island of delights. The scarab-blue sea is
inviting, the coast is spectacular, and the towns and villages are enticing.
For powerboaters and ribsters like us, the cruising here is among the very best
the Med can offer. What is more, it is only a budget airline flight away.
Megayachts and vodka shots
I’ll cut to
the chase. As a busy deep-water Mediterranean port, Ibiza Town has attracted
more than its fair share of stunning motor yachts. They bask in the bright
Ibizan sunshine like interstellar craft from a distant galaxy. This means that
in Ibiza Town you can hire a Ferrari or a Sunseeker, spin the wheel in at least
two casinos and rave at an über-cool superclub ’til dawn. However, Ibiza Town
amounts to much, much more – even more than the extravagant tastes of Russian
oligarchs, and the roar of the ravers. Ibiza is not just about excessive
consumption and sky-high berthing fees. Indeed, Ibiza Town displays real
character. You are in a vibrant port city, and the buzz is tactile. Moreover,
it has its own rather refreshing Catalan pace of life. You walk narrow
tree-lined streets with balconied houses, bordered by boho-chic pavement cafés.
You encounter handsome shady squares with that traditional ‘Spanish colonial’
vibe, towered over by the ramparts of an ancient citadel.
Mooring up in
Ibiza Town is about lazy days, visiting the antique monuments, niche shopping,
keeping ‘Spanish hours’ and eating late. The palm-lined stone quays have more than a whiff of the
tropical about them. However, it is clear at every turn that there is a strong
underlying local Catalan culture. It is a way of life that sets its own tone. Catalans
have retained their own identity, language, dances, history and poets in the
face of all-comers. I am always astounded how genuinely helpful they are with
boaters like us, who do not speak their language, but who always seem to need
help, advice and assistance! Like their Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Morisco
antecedents, Catalans are practical, deal-making pragmatists. Tourists are made
very welcome, and the Catalan default mode is ‘laid-back – but on your side’.
However, they never allow Catalan culture to be submerged.
While we were
boating off Ibiza in September and October 2017, there was a Catalan independence
referendum. Although we were on holiday, we found ourselves carried along by
this wave of European history. Local people told us openly that they wanted
change, and the underlying mood did seem to be in favour of independence.
Eivissa – Ibiza Town
Catalan means Ibiza Town. Eivissa’s fine harbour lies at
38° 54ʹ 09″ North and 01° 26ʹ 42″ East. It is an official port of entry for
Spain, and has all the necessary customs facilities. Arrival at Eivissa by sea
is quite a landfall and rather thrilling on a small boat. Be aware that there
is much maritime traffic in and out of the port. In particular, the ferries –
both displacement ships and high-speed catamarans – buzz in and out like
hornets. Add to that sailing boat flotillas, port authority boats, fishing
boats and all the powercraft flitting about, and it can get a bit frenetic.
Approaches from the south
Coming from the south, the first glimpse of the town’s high citadel low to port will come after rounding Torre de Ses Portes. From here, with the long beach of d’en Bossa to port, it is a straightforward matter of negotiating a number of well-charted rocky îlots leading right up to the port entrance. Note that the commercial shipping lane passes outside all these obstacles. As you make the final approach to the harbour, two significant rocky îlots come up to port. These are Sa Corbeta, lying under Punta Del Calvario to port, and the larger Isla Negra, just before the town’s southern breakwater, which spring off at Torre De Vigilancia . At the end of this breakwater lies Latarnia Morska. This pretty but small lighthouse marks the southern mouth of the main harbour, with Eivissa old town rising majestically to port. The day we entered, an old sailing ship was moored alongside.
Approaches from the north
from the north, say from Santa Eulària, there are a number of rocks awash,
small rocky îlots and sharp skerries to keep you awake. However, these are not
at all challenging in fine weather. As you glimpse the citadel on the hill, a
bay, Cala Talamanca, opens up to starboard. Strewn with boats, it can appear to
be the port entrance. It is not. You have to proceed, leaving rocky Punta
Grossa a few cables to starboard. You will then follow the rock wall and the Botafoch
breakwater, no doubt seeing one of the vast cruise liners moored on your right.
The distinctive bulk of Botafoch lighthouse lies on a rocky fold to starboard.
Coming across such bold seamarks is one of the great joys of cruising on your
own boat. At the end of the breakwater, a small and rather inconspicuous green
post topped with a light marks the northern mouth of the outer harbour. Turn to
starboard here for the marinas. The wall below is painted with a rather hopeful
‘Velocidad Max 3 Knots’.
Marina Ibiza entrance
Once you have
cleared the northern breakwater,
most of the busy ferry traffic will head directly forward, and thence turn to
port around the southern breakwater. From there, at Latarnia Morska, it will
run directly over to Ibiza Town quay. This ferry traffic then passes the Ibiza
Magna superyacht station, and the new Port Ibiza Town ‘marina’, leaving both to
port. These two boating facilities are situated below Eivissa’s magnificent
ramparted old town (‘Dalt Vila’) up on the
hill. Look right, and Ibiza Club Náutico (Ibiza Yacht Club) lies to the starboard end of the
town’s main quay. However, both Marina Ibiza and Marina Botafoch lie to
starboard of the northern breakwater. You can steer directly to Marina Ibiza by
spotting the port end of its long quay with the huge Lio nightclub on top.
Follow that quay by eye to starboard to pick up the Marina Ibiza building and
its slick silver-lettered sign. The rather discreet marina entrance lies here,
with its fuel berth just beyond.
Anchoring and Posidonia
You cannot anchor between the main breakwater and Marina Botafoch, though we did see a few boats there! Also, the old anchorage below the citadel has now been declared unavailable. Mind you, for powerboaters like us, lingering at anchor off a beach with the other powerboats is a more likely option. However, there is an underwater meadow of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica between Ibiza and Formentera. Marine biologists say that this is the reason why the local beaches are so fine and the water so turquoise. Due to its significance, there are additional local legal restrictions on certain anchorages. However, I can report that when it washed up black on the beach, it was counter-intuitively soft to walk upon with bare feet.
often lulls one into a false sense of security, with minimal tides and sandy
bottoms. However, we found that this coast of Ibiza is not as hazard-free as
the South of France or the east coast of Mallorca. There are a number of
fascinating rocks awash – outliers, skerries, ledges and serrated rocky combs.
The key point is that these often occur a bit further from the shore than you might
expect. Note that some of these are substantial rocky islands as well as low-lying
îlots. My 30-quid Navionics app on my steam-driven iPhone 4 showed them all
very clearly, but you do have to proceed with particular caution when the
smaller rocks, submerged or awash, encumber a beach or cove. The tide in this
part of the Med is minimal. So I consoled myself that most of the rocks shown
awash on the chart were likely to be uncovered by the tide, and visibly awash
when I passed them! Incidentally, perhaps reflecting the delightful local
fatalism, most of these hazards appeared unlit and unmarked. Fear not – an up-to-date
chart and normal prudence will see you through.
Pleasure boating facilities
possesses such a large and extensive deep-water port, it enjoys a wide range of
boating facilities. To give you some idea of the scale of things, on foot it
takes about 45 minutes of brisk perambulation just to circuit the main harbour.
We found that the chief facilities comprised:
- Club Náutico Ibiza yacht club, right on the town quay.
- Marina Ibiza, a short walk north from the town quay past the Club Náutico.
- Marina Botafoch, a longer walk from the town past Marina Ibiza, and stocked with many larger boats.
- Ibiza Magna superyacht station, essentially on the old town quay, directly below the Dalt Vila.
- Port Ibiza Town, next to Magna, below the Dalt Vila.
The marina is
situated at Paseo Juan Carlos l, no. 20, 07800 Ibiza. This is just round the corner from the harbour, north
from the main town quay (Tel: (+34) 971 318 040; Fax: (+34) 971 199 355). The
marina website lists their full facilities (www.marinaibiza.com).
concentrated on Marina Ibiza because we had come to Ibiza Town expressly to
check it out. Our investigations soon confirmed that Marina Ibiza best suited
our particular preferences as UK-based powerboat trailer folk. The marina is so
large it has two basins, north and south. It may be hailed on Channel 16 or
Channel 9. Conveniently, the marina has its own ‘Welcome Quay’. It provides Wi-Fi
for all berth holders, and it is also possible to get a TV signal piped to your
berth. The marina has CCTV and 24-hour security, which we saw, though we could
wander about without needing any pass codes. As you have a right to expect, the
marina has excellent showers, and the immaculate toilets are distributed over
three sites. Because the marina is so extensive, we saw a young lady driving a
large ‘golf cart’ to transport some VIP boaters around. The marina even has a
large three-storey boat rack, and a hardstanding area – confusingly mistranslated
as a ‘dry dock’. We were also quite surprised, and not a little impressed, to
note that the marina has its own first-aid station, and even a treatment room.
Another surprise was the marina’s boat ‘bailing out’ service – handy if you are
remotely managing your boat from the UK. Although it is not conveniently
situated on the town quay like the smart Club Náutico Ibiza, the walk into town
from Marina Ibiza is much shorter than from the competing Marina Botafoch,
which is situated to the north. However, bear in mind that there is a ferry
across the harbour to Eivissa old town from Marina Botafoch and Marina Ibiza.
We discounted the fine Club Náutico since it better reflected the needs of
sailing craft owners. We were told that its 30 visitor berths were hard to come
by in high summer. Besides, when we visited the Club Náutico clubhouse, we were
received with such kindness that we felt we could drop in whenever we liked,
even if our boat was tied up elsewhere.
your RYA membership card with you to a foreign yacht club. It sets their minds
at rest that you are trustworthy fellow boaters, and we have found it opens
Botafoch is a fine marina, with good facilities, and close to the Talamanca
beach, but we were told it would be dearer than Marina Ibiza for our vessel.
Its relative remoteness from the town put us off, though the beach was closer.
However, as unashamed sybarites, we thought it a less impressive environment.
The clincher for shallow-minded throttle benders like us was that classy Marina
Ibiza really is quite a few degrees Kelvin cooler in the fashion stakes. Marina
Ibiza restaurants are chic, the shops stylish and the ambience tasteful. The aforementioned
large and impressive Lio is a club/restaurant/cabaret and is smack on the marina quay. Next to it, on a
short promontory, is the very fashionble Calma restaurant – an immaculate place
to dine. Towards the marina offices we found our favourite watering hole,
Cappuccino Grand Café. Downstairs it is a welcoming, informal, boater-friendly
café-style establishment with surprisingly edible prices if you use your loaf.
For example, a ham and cheese toastie cost 6.50 euros. However, the ‘Full
English’ of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausages and beans was a rather intimidating
15.60 euros. Mind you, it did include huevos
ecológicos – ecological eggs! Upstairs, on a truly lovely terrace each
evening, Cappuccino delivers an upmarket eatery with world-class views of the
old town. There was yet another restaurant-cum-lounge, the Blue Marlin, near
the marina’s funky ‘pop-up’ stores area, but we did not get a chance to try it.
There are a
number of appealing upmarket shops on the marina. Although we would probably
never buy anything here, these elite emporia all looked satisfyingly expensive.
It was just on 30 degrees centigrade and one window seemed to be sporting fur
coats. Alongside such not-quite-essentials, there is a very useful general store.
This ‘Super-Oh’ shop usefully combines newsagent, cash dispenser, off-licence
and food store functions. It also saves that brisk 10-minute walk into town. I
noticed that one sleek boat sales and charter business on the marina, Mangusta,
has some exquisite models of superyachts in its small but perfectly formed
At the rather
nifty fuel berth, sharply styled runabouts (worth a third of a million quid
each) gulped down the petrol and diesel all day. I noted that this upmarket
fuel was still cheaper than in the UK. In October 2017, Marina Ibiza diesel
cost 1.34 euros per litre, while petrol cost 1.42 euros per litre.
the Marina Ibiza website does not have an online mooring rate checker. Instead
you have to fill in an online form to get an emailed quote back for your boat.
Normal Mediterranean low/medium/high seasonal rate bands apply. Be warned: the
prices are eye-watering, and those quoted do not include port fees or IVA
(VAT). It seemed like a case of ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’.
Competition for berths is fierce in high season (temporada alta). Note that temporada
baja (low season) is from 1st October to 30th April – this was the time
when we visited.
Slipway, storage, travel lift
The slipway on
the Zona Técnica next to the Club Náutico would be our trailer boating choice.
It is close to the ferry terminals, wide, immediately adjacent to the main road
and has adequate room to manoeuvre. It also has its own toilet block. Just note
that you cannot simply arrive and sweep in, since the electric gate may not be
open. Best advice is to ring ahead and sort out your arrival via the Club Náutico
(Tel: (+34) 971 313 363). There is a travel lift at the Club Náutico, and
another 10-tonner at Marina Ibiza.
- Marina Ibiza maintains a continuous radio watch on Channel 9 and Channel 16.
- Club Náutico: VHF Channel 9.
- Ibiza Magna and Port Ibiza Town: Each on Channel 16 and Channel 9.
cat and displacement ferries from the mainland (Valencia and Barcelona) can
bring you, your car and your boat trailer to within a few hundred yards of
Marina Ibiza. For crew changes with budget airlines, Ibiza international airport
lies just outside the town. Local taxis are reasonably priced, and because of
all the clubbers, there is an all-night bus service around the island in high
season. Local ferries are also quite cheap – see below.
Local boat support services
there are a number of dedicated marine services operating from the marina, which
will handle storage, maintenance and gardiennage. I confess that I could not
find any that appeared to be obviously at our end of the market. I did note the
Smooth Sailing Ibiza:
sales, concierge etc., plus maintenance.
charter, yacht management and concierge services.
Huge range of
services, and the biggest travel lift on the island. This company looked the
best bet, and just for example quoted 545 euros to antifoul our 8m boat.
Boating by other means
If you have
decided to fly out with just your bags and Platinum Card to hire or charter,
then Marina Ibiza is replete with such options. As ever, for ‘self-drive’ you will
have to check out the minimum competence requirements in terms of your own certification.
I have always got by with the normal Powerboat Level II (Coastal) Certificate,
plus my trusty International Certificate of Competence (ex-HOCC). These are
both RYA qualifications that you can get in the UK before you go. There are
many local high-end charter businesses that will also supply a boat with a skipper
– not to my taste, and frankly, well beyond my pay grade. One or two businesses
did offer boats at our end of the market, i.e. sub-30-footers:
a Solemar Zeus 8.7 RIB and a Monterey 278 for drive-yourself weekly hire. No
prices are published, only available on application.
have a Zodiac 760 RIB, a Kardis K30 Mojito RIB, a Sessa Key Largo 28
walk-around cuddy and a Monterey 278 Ss. No prices are published, only available on application.
Ibiza Boats have a Sea Ray 285 Sunsport Cruiser and a Sessa Key Largo 28 on their books, both quoted at ‘from 550 euros per day’.
also own the large chandlery on the main town quay. It would certainly meet all
your powerboating needs.
beach is within walking distance of Marina Ibiza. You can amble there past Marina
Botafoch to the north, but we reckon that you would have to travel light. On
the way you might choose to stop for refreshment at the Flotante, a so-called
floating bar/restaurant. It isn’t actually afloat, but it can feel like it
after a few glasses of sangria! If you have younger crew, this beach is the
closest place to the marina to hire pedalos, boards and jet skis. Over the
harbour, to the south (beyond the old town Dalt Vila citadel), lies a truly
superb beach. This is the celebrated Playa d’en Bossa, the largest beach on the
island. It too has all the paraphernalia of beach life likely to appeal to folk
like us, so it is a diverting place. Superclubs like Ushuaia and Hi Ibiza are
close by, so the night shift of clubbers and ravers use this beach as their
Coastal boat trips
There are many
cheap local boat trips up and down the coast from Ibiza Town. Handily for us,
these go from beach to resort to port in each direction, so are ideal for a
quick recce. There are also slower displacement ferries, as well as fast cats,
to Formentera. Indeed, one German 6m powerboat owner I spoke to told me he
followed the Formentera ferry there and back one settled day! I took a few of
these local boats to confirm my intended powerboat routes, and also to check whether
my charting and passage planning were proving accurate. Local trip boats need a
bit more draught than our 25ft sports cruiser, so we were assured that the
routes they took would suit us. Highly recommended.
drill for Med boating applies: check the marina’s Capitaneria office meteo sheet every morning (usually posted on the
door or window). Back that intelligence up with your favourite online sailing
weather app, and if possible, speak to local boaters. Generally, mornings are
best for passages since the Med can get a bit lumpy in the afternoon. Luckily
there are some snug calas and small ports up and down this coast to offer
shelter if you need it.
As a final
note, we were in port in early October when the famous fashionable Ibizan clubs
like Pacha and Heart were holding their celebrated season ‘closing’ parties.
The late-night streets were full of the beautiful people, some astoundingly
minimally attired. Indeed, those two most famous clubs are situated just over
the road from Marina Ibiza – handy for revellers stumbling home to their boats
just a few paces away. Even if you are not there for the ‘closing’ ritual, you
will find the October weather, winds and sea states very agreeable. The days
were bright and hot, but the air temperature did not exceed 30 degrees. The
water was 23 degrees! There was almost no rain, and the nights were exquisite.
Eating out at a beach restaurant in your shirt sleeves is a Med pleasure that
never palls – especially in the autumn. Flights and hotel accommodation were cheaper
at this end of the season too. So if you weigh it all up, Ibiza at this time of
year has a lot to offer powerboaters. You absorb the balmy October weather, the
whispering palms, the blue water and the immaculate craft, and you are in
Cala Llonga: 4nm
Sant Antoni de
We used our
trusty and cheap Navionics Europe iPhone app.
Also on Android.
The Pine Islands
Formentera are the largest in the Illes Pitiuses group (Pine Islands in Catalan), forming part of the western Balearic
Ibiza quick facts
is the third-largest Balearic Island.
- The port
of Ibiza was founded by Phoenician traders in 645 BC.
backed Hannibal and the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars with Rome.
treated Ibiza with mercy and it became a sleepy Roman province.
and briefly, the Vandals and the Byzantine Empire ruled Ibiza.
Moors conquered the island in 990.
Aragonese King James I conquered Ibiza and expelled the Moors, beginning the
process that made Ibiza part of Spain.
Ibizan culture is Catalonian, not Spanish.
modern Catalans wish to secede from Spain.
correct Catalonian name for Ibiza Town is Eivissa.
island of Ibiza is six times smaller than Mallorca, and 10 times larger than
benign climate is legendary – in the upper 20 degrees centigrade in the summer.
Winters are mild.
average it snows but once every 10 years in Ibiza.