Iconic Ibiza beaches: Aguas Blancas

While much of the world descends on Ibiza with designs to catch a quintessential white isle sunset, the clued-up and carefree keep a well-kept secret under their hats and aim for a different time of day. Why? Because as divine as dusk can be in the Balearics, the real magic unfolds at dawn, when morning is just a whisper and we’re still in a semi-state of dreaming – caught on the topsy turvy cusp of night just past and a new day beginning. For early risers, Aguas Blancas is the only place to be at sunrise – it’s where the wonderfully capricious story kick-starts.

This is why east coast enthusiasts are content to let the west coast beaches claim all the headlines, because meanwhile they can sit quietly doing their thing, unhurried, unruffled and serene – often with sweeping swathes of sand entirely to themselves. This in part explains why, despite being one of Ibiza’s most peerlessly spectacular beaches, Aguas Blancas remains a relatively under-the-radar treasure. Locals know it well but keep it hush hush, visitors consider themselves lucky when they happen to stumble upon it, and all the while the beach emanates modest magnificence, a constant cadence in an ever-changing rhythm.

Marked only by a makeshift, homespun placard signalling ‘Aigües Blanques’, the beach is located just past the once hippie-dwelling haven of San Carlos. Drive through the village, then follow the sign down a dusty, bumpy track and for a small fee, park up. Sunrisers will have no trouble, but arriving later in the day means inadvertently signing yourself up for a mini adventure. Because as with all good things, there’s some effort involved and to reach the hallowed coastline – there’s a steep, sandy descent or a hike down a higgledy piggledy staircase lined by the occasional crumbling building. This all adds to the charm, of course – and the breathtaking beauty of the Med as it appears on the horizon.

Aguas Blancas itself is a 300-metre long stretch of soft, glorious sand. On one side backed by towering, sun-tinged cliffs and vibrant pine forest, on the other caressed by cerulean blue, cloudless water that breaks in a wash of white-tipped gentle waves (hence the name which translates to ‘white waters’). There are few beaches on Ibiza that can lay claim to such dramatic beauty. To the south you’ll find nudists revelling in tranquility (this is one of only two official nudist beaches on Ibiza); to the north, mostly families with kids splashing around in the rolling shallows. But wherever you go there’s an unrivalled, relaxed vibe – a hangover from this piece of shoreline’s bohemian heyday.

In spite of its laid-back spirit, there’s plenty to keep minds and bodies occupied at Aguas Blancas. Lie back on a towel and take in the sites of Tagomago, a private island looming in the distance, and Punta Grossa, a derelict, clifftop lookout. Cake yourself in clay mixed with seawater for an all over body, healing wrap. Swim to the rock just offshore and leap off with childish abandon – feet first, head last, and heart in mouth. And to the south, go in search of the small natural spring that trickles down from the chalky clifftops, or swim round to the enchanting set of caves where shade for the sun-weary comes in abundance.

At snack-time, head to the charming chiringuito that’s all ramshackle, raffia parasols and wooden, weather-beaten benches – it’s a much-loved beach addition that’s been open since the 70s. Service is sleepy and decor rustic, but this is the best place on the island for a bocadillo con salchicha with true Spanish tomatoes, plus who’s in a rush when there’s hierbas to be supped on? Elsewhere, there’s also a bright blue terraced restaurant that’s perfect for reasonably priced tapas, minty fresh mojitos, and seats that catch the sea breeze.

By evening, the sun fades, leaving striking cliff-shaped shadows across the sand in its wake. People chase what remains of the light, creeping up the shore like crabs dodging the tide, until eventually they peel off and head home. Back in the swinging 60s, the beach was strewn by sun-kissed foreigners at all times of day – naked skin baked by the sun, hair down to their waists, cigarettes suspended from their mouths. And while that chapter has been and gone, what remains at Aguas Blancas is time-tested appeal. Turn up at sunrise, strip off, and stay till the stars come out – leave the past where it belongs and commence a new page here.