The sudden sight of the Cala d’en Serra beach makes it all worthwhile. We’re up on the north-east of Ibiza, several miles from anywhere.
We trekked up from Portinatx, past the majestic, 170 ft, candy-striped Moscarter lighthouse and along an intricate coastal path with lush pine forestation, orange and lemon trees on one side, steep cliffs, rocky bays and a rich blue sea on the other.
This cove is one of the island’s countless glories, an oval of golden sand surrounded by turquoise water.
Roger Alton and his group – led by tour guides from G Adventures – trek to Ibiza’s Cala d’en Serra beach (pictured)
A beach in the Ibizan village of Portinatx, which features on one of Roger’s hikes along the island’s coast
We have to walk down (the road’s in terrible condition) past the shell of an abandoned hotel and on to the little beach, dotted with a handful of fishermen’s shacks. There’s said to be a risk of jellyfish, but thanks to a handy new app (yes, really) those troublesome critters are easy to avoid.
Hiking is, by some margin, the best way to see the island and savour its rich flora, from bougainvillea and hibiscus to rosemary and sage. We are an assorted bunch, brought together by an enterprising Canada-based outfit called G Adventures. They want to introduce visitors to the unseen sides of great destinations.
Holidays spent on a sun lounger? Forget it. With G Adventures you put one foot in front of the other in Iceland to see the Northern Lights; the Inca Trail in Peru; the rich wildlife in Costa Rica; the wonders of Nepal. These are trips for grown-ups (whatever your age) — like-minded people with the confidence to get out and see the world as it is.
Where else are you going to meet a couple of businesswomen who are best friends and confusingly both called Kathryn, and who are most helpful to me as I fall behind; a hospital consultant who is so fit her six-pack has a six-pack; a man helping to build a new generation of phones; a Canadian paralegal; an Austrian shipping agent; a Swiss travel agent; or a couple of 19-year-old pals from Munich who succumb to the other delights of Ibiza and disappear from view?
The tour leads the group past the majestic, 170 ft, candy-striped Moscarter lighthouse (pictured in the centre-left)
The group’s base for the holiday is Santa Eulalia (pictured), a small beachside resort half an hour up the east coast from Ibiza Town
All love the outdoors; all get on like a house on fire. Our guides are Javi, a former ad man, and Jaime, who says that even after 25 years on the island, he is ‘still discovering hidden treasures’.
Frankly, I have always avoided Ibiza because of the party island stuff. That’s there, of course, but mostly tucked away on San Antonio or the Playa d’en Bossa.
We’re based in Santa Eulalia, a small beachside resort half an hour up the east coast from Ibiza Town and packed with every restaurant you could want. Strangely, our hotel shuts its bar at 4pm, which is very un-Spanish and doesn’t make for lots of communal get-togethers, although our gregarious crew meets all over town after our walks.
Nobody should miss Formentera, the 12-mile-long nearby island, a crisp ferry ride from Santa Eulalia and a byword for bohemian escapism and some of the best beaches in Europe.
Roger hops on a ferry to the nearby isle of Formentera, which, he says, is a ‘byword for bohemian escapism and some of the best beaches in Europe’
After renting a bike, Roger cycles to the salt flats of the Trucador Peninsula at the northern tip of the island. Above is a beach on the western side of the peninsula
On his final outing, Roger hikes through olive groves and past carob trees down to the extraordinary cove Es Portitxol (pictured)
G Adventures’ Hiking Ibiza tour starts from £699 per person, excluding international flights. Upcoming departures include March 19, April 23 and May 14 with trips running through to November 2022.
Visibility under water is regularly to a depth of 165 ft, thanks to extensive seabed meadows of something called Posidonia, an ancient Mediterranean seagrass known for its healing properties and extensive production of oxygen. Obviously good stuff, and like most good stuff it’s in danger from marine pollution.
Formentera best suits two wheels rather than two feet, so Javi and I take to hired bikes and visit the salt flats of the Trucador Peninsula at the northern tip of the island. All the organisms in the salt pans take on a pinkish hue and shine red in the late sun.
Eventually we bike to the Es Ministre restaurant straddling the promontory running north into the sea. Apparently, Beyonce and Lionel Messi have been known to pop in here, so it’s not a place to come without a credit card.
Back on Ibiza, for my final trip Jaime takes me off the beaten track north-west of Sant Miquel through olive groves and past carob trees, and then down to the extraordinary cove Es Portitxol, tiny and lonely with just an elegant yacht moored in the waters.
But when locals tell you it’s ‘about a ten -minute walk’, don’t believe a word.
There’s just time for a last visit to the marina at Santa Eulalia. My daughter, Hannah, who is a chef on Ibiza, takes me to Word of Mouth (known as WoM), an open space with music and, Hannah tells me, the best burgers in the world.
And you know what, she’s right. They are the best this hungry hiker has ever tasted, and make a delicious way to end an enlightening visit to an island I’ve misunderstood for decades.