El Pilar de la Mola, Spain

Photo: I, Vriullop [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: I, Vriullop [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The summer beach party is in full swing on Ibiza. The celebrities continue to arrive, the cava keeps flowing, and the electronic dance music never stops on the little Mediterranean island during the summer. It’s like Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, and Mykonos all rolled into one. It’s intense, and certainly not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your Balearic Islands craving this summer. Just pick another island.

Formentera is the exact opposite of Ibiza. The smallest and the southernmost of the Balearic Islands is wild and unspoiled. The vibe is chill, the hotels are low-key, and a family atmosphere prevails. There isn’t an airport on the island, but during the short ferry ride from Ibiza, you’ll begin to appreciate where you’re going, instead of lamenting where you were.

The ferry docks in La Savina, a busy northern port filled with huge yachts, little fishing boats, seafood restaurants, and idling scooters. Surrounded by an inland lake, a sheltered harbor, and the Mediterranean, La Savina is the perfect welcoming location for Formentera. Plus, some of the island’s best beaches, including Playa de Llevant and Playa de Illetas, are close by. You’ll be back. But first, your hotel.

Photo: Es Ram
Photo: Es Ram

You drive southeast toward Es Caló and veer right instead continuing toward isolated El Pilar de la Mola at the end of the island. The paved road turns rocky, and then sandy. You think you’re lost by the time you reach Es Ram on the southern coast. Though you’re instantly glad you didn’t give up and turn around.

Follow the stairs that are carved into the rocks and head down the sloping cliff. The resort’s whitewashed buildings, which border a nature reserve, are surrounded by pine trees and cascading bougainvillea. Birds sing in the gardens. Sun beds are strategically placed in shady areas. Waves crash against the rocks. And a rocky beach, bordered by crystal-clear water, is yours for the taking.

You quietly settle in to an unplanned routine. It includes reading on the terrace of your vivienda, swimming in the slate gray pool, staring at the endless ocean, eating salt-baked fish and seafood paella at the open-air restaurant, and sipping chilled white wine on the rooftop as the sun sets. Your researched trip plans—which include the Molí Vell windmill, the hippie La Mola craft fair, and those beautiful (but nude-friendly beaches)—sit untouched. For once, you’re not looking for the newest restaurant or the hottest beach club. You left those on Ibiza.

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