Stoked about Ibiza

Stoked about Ibiza

WADE GRAVY recounts his first experience of Spain’s hedonistic ground-zero and discovers there’s more to it than losing yourself (although he does that too).

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Ibiza’s an island off Spain, perhaps Spain’s most famous island.

Other famous Spanish islands include Majorca, which is right next to Ibiza, and Fuerteventura, which is right next to Morocco.

If you’re an older-middle-aged Dutch couple you might think that Fuerteventura is more famous than Ibiza, and if you’re a teenaged German boy looking for a warm nook in which to rest your intrepid, yet inexperienced, middle and index fingers you may give Majorca the nod. That you are reading this it’s fair to say that you’re not one of either of those stereotypes, and thus Ibiza is the most famous of the Spanish islands.

The first time I went it was pre-season. ‘Season’ starts in June, doesn’t really peak until August, and dies off end-of-September-ish. I went at Easter, which doesn’t precisely pinpoint when I was there because Easter is one of those floating festivals that follows the lunar cycle (which is weird because isn’t it supposed to annually commemorate a definite moment in Jesus’s life? Whatevs). The overnight ferry out there from Barcelona was not yet full of party goers with pockets full of ecstasy tablets, and instead was full of hockey-playing teenagers in matching school-issue tracksuits, uniform greasy skin, and a commonly-held propensity for carrying on like a pack of twits. My travel companions hated this as they were close in age to these teens, but I was old enough to look upon their antics with a twinge of nostalgia, and thus let it slide. I also smuggled on-board a fair whack of liquor so with every swig I took, a little less I gave a damn.

We arrived at first light. The first impression one gets of Ibiza, when arriving by sea, is Ibiza Town’s impressive fort. Forts, generally, were and are designed to leave an impression. However, this one is complemented by the hill upon where it rests and the azure and calm Mediterranean Sea whose cockles it tickles and the promise of hedonistic pleasures that it hid from our sight.

Once we were on dry land – and by dry I mean arid – because this place don’t get no rain, we went beyond the fort and into a shithouse looking city, which was like every other city in Spain except it sprung up rapidly and haphazardly in the ’70s. An architecture tour this was not, though, and thus precisely zero damns were given about the city’s lack of aesthetic charms.

Our hotel was on the sand, under the flight path, and just outside of town. The beach we were on was called Sunrise Beach, because the sun rose off its horizon, and there were a bunch of ramshackle beach clubs that had yet to have their podiums unfurled and deckchairs unchained for the summer season. We spent the first day ogling each other, drinking sangria by the pool and enjoying the feel of the sun on our skin. When someone complained to me that it wasn’t 1000 degrees I punched them in the mouth with my eyes. There is nothing finer to me than enjoying the feel of the sun on my skin, and summer’s oppressive heat makes that impossible. Screw that guy, and his longing to ruin my day.

That night we went in to Pacha; the only nightclub open and at that time of year happy to waive the 50 euro cover-charge for us. I don’t know what Pacha is like in full flight, but we had a doozy of a night. This means that we got smashed, danced like idiots and those of us who could hook up… what happens in Ibiza stays in Ibiza (except gonorrhoea — that travels). They had some weirdoes hanging from the roof and some other acrobatic nonsense, because Europeans like their nights out to be some kind of spectacle — makes them feel like Julius Caesar, I guess — but I didn’t care about that as much as I cared about my 10 euro vodka and Red Bulls.

There is nothing in this world quite as physically contradictory as a vodka and Red Bull drunk. Your very being is pulling you in two quite different directions. The vodka will make you increasingly take bad decisions, socially and physically. I count stumbling around as being a bad physical decision, where your brain could have chosen to put your foot where it was supposed to go, but decided to put it on top of your other foot. Vodka on its own has an “ejector seat” mechanism, where when your decisions are getting dangerous, it’ll put you into a coma. Add Red Bull, however, and as your brain increasingly shuts down, your body will be speeding up. This creates a highly energetic zombie; someone who looks like and thinks like an extra from the Walking Dead, but physically acts like a crackhead without gross motor skills.

That was me. I was politely asked to leave Pacha after my shell knocked an entire bartop’s worth of drinks back into whence they came, and spent the next eternity stumbling around in a vacuous stupor, getting a full night’s mental rest, whilst covering the next month’s physical activity requirements. The physical and mental disconnect finished in the morning when I awoke in my bed, confused, with a body that was equally unsure as to where and who it was and how it was supposed to act.

Usually a shower of sorts will cure this, but in Ibiza there is naught in the way of flowing fresh water, and so all the showers coat you in a salty, tepid saline that makes you feel precisely 200% worse than before you bathed in it.

With only a day left in our brief jaunt to Ibiza, I had a car to hire and an island to explore. This was the highlight, especially after the winey lunch that we had in San Antonio, on the sunset side of the island, which was positively lovely although I’m told that during season it’s overrun with rotten British party tourists who are there for a barrel load of pints, a pants full of sex and failing the sex, a fist full of fights. All we had was a plate full of seafood, glasses full of vino, a nice table by the harbour and a sky full of sun.

From there we headed to all the cardinal extremities of the island and explored coves and towns and beaches and farms. It was amazing, lovely and quintessentially Mediterranean, with dry rolling hills laden with olive groves and wary sheep, punctuated by human touches that alternated from Roman to Medieval to Modern and Stone Age. This was by far the highlight of our trip.

While the island is limited geographically, it seemed like our exploration was boundless. We scaled mountains and scrambled across cliff tops. We lay upon sand and sat for minutes at crossroads, deciding which way to go. Minutes! It was rural, it was so far from Pacha and Sunrise Beach’s flight path, and by the time we got back to the ferry, after a last minute scramble across the fort’s ramparts, we felt like we’d gone a little bit further than the standard Ibiza trip (like 20kms further, aren’t we just such intrepid little explorers).

Ibiza out-of-season was a delight. When I went back in-season all I did was day one on repeat, which was a hoot, but a goddamn repetitive hoot. Give it a run, you salty buccaneers.

By Wade Gravy — a member of the Stoke Travel team. For more info about trips with Stoke Travel, visit

From Easter onwards Stoke Travel advises that curious people who haven´t yet experienced Ibiza really should come and have a geez with them.

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