Just eleven nautical miles south of Ibiza Town, FORMENTERA (population 8212) is the smallest of the four main Balearic Islands, measuring just 20km from east to west. Formentera’s history more or less parallels that of Ibiza, though between 1348 and 1697 it was left uninhabited for fear of pirate raids. Like Ibiza, it was a key part of the 1960s hippie trail (Pink Floyd made an album here), and the island retains a bohemian character.
Formentera is very arid, and mainly covered in rosemary, which grows wild everywhere; it also crawls with thousands of brilliant-green Ibiza wall lizards (Podarcis pityusensis), which flourish in parched scrubland. The economy is tourism-based, taking advantage of some of Spain’s longest, whitest and least-crowded beaches. Development has been limited, and visitors come here seeking escape rather than sophistication. Nude sunbathing is the norm just about everywhere, except in Es Pujols.
Northwest of Es Pujols are the absolutely spectacular sands of Platja de Ses Illetes, and, across a narrow channel, the uninhabited island of Espalmador, where there’s another great beach, and water turquoise enough to trump any Caribbean brochure. It’s possible to wade across most of the year, or you can get to Espalmador on one of the regular boats from La Savina (May–Oct only; €10 return).
Taking up most of Formentera’s southern coastline, Platja de Migjorn is a sweeping bay with 5km of pale sands and crystalline waters.