Iconic Ibiza beaches: Cala d’Hort
No one knows where it all began. As with all ingrained myths, their provenance is cloudy, like when the windows fog up in the rain and all you can decipher is a blurry outline behind the glass. Nevertheless, the stories surrounding it continue to rise, much like the rugged boulder itself that soars up from beneath the sea bed, climbing up, up to pierce the sky. Es Vedrà is a jagged monument to Ibiza’s past that stands like a beacon of wisdom on the horizon and there, just in the distance, sits Cala d’Hort, a beach renowned for reflecting the rock’s majesty, despite resting just beyond the periphery of its shadow.
Cala d’Hort is an iconic beach in its own right but without question, part of its notoriety stems from its proximity to Es Vedrà and the legends that swirl around it. Reported to be the third most magnetic spot on earth after the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle (though geologists refute this), over the years it’s been at the centre of much unproven rumour and hearsay. Some claim the rock’s untold forces scramble boat and aeroplane radars, others say that watches cease to tick and compasses become lost in their own search for placement.
It continues. Pilots have regaled seeing unidentified flying lights swarming round the rock, leading to speculation that it’s a navigation base for creatures from distant planets, an idea easy to dismiss till you learn that local fishermen have reported similar sightings. Stretch back even further into the past and people will tell you that the peak of Es Vedrà is the only visible part of the lost city of Atlantis, or that it was the birthplace of the goddess Tanit, and home to a group of mischievous sirens and sea nymphs who tried to lure Ulysses from his path in Homer’s tome, Odyssey.
It’s down to the observer to decide what’s fable and what’s fact, but what we do know for certain is that Es Vedrà’s intensity is felt palpably on Cala d’Hort, not least because it’s located right in the centre of the beach’s picture perfect vistas. A stunning blue flag bay (only one of 12 on Ibiza), on land, the steep descent to Cala d’Hort leads to a circular cove backed by cliffs with a shoreline that’s shingly to one side, sandy to the other, and lapped gently by the quintessentially blue water of the Mediterranean. It’s a seaside Shangri-La of sorts, a place steeped in mysterious feeling.
Unsurprisingly then, it’s loved by one and all, and in summer every grain of sand is accounted for (if you arrive by car it’s worth arriving early so you don’t have to trek up the hill at the end of the day). From the hot young things who lie on sarongs, legs entwined, to the couples with silvering hair who’ve been soaking up the magic for years, to tourists keen to find out what the fuss is about, and kids with snorkels suctioned to their faces, patiently seeking out fish, Cala d’Hort’s everlasting appeal hasn’t made it swish or swanky. Even on an island that’s increasingly VIP-centric, it exudes a sense of authenticity and poise. Those flashing wads of cash and fancy ideas will soon be sent on their way by some anonymous compulsion.
This breezy, laid-back spirit is matched by the beach’s three, locally-run restaurants. Beachside, there’s Restaurante El Carmen and Restaurant Cala d’Hort, specialising in local seafood dishes like bullit de peix washed down with a glass of rosé and a flurry of wind as it wafts past you on the alfresco terrace. Then up on a clifftop overlooking Es Vedrà is Es Boldado, a local’s favourite famous for its homemade paella. To reach it, turn right before you descend to Cala d’Hort and follow a bumpy dirt track till you arrive at its finish. Alternatively, from the beach, climb over the rocks and fishermen’s huts to the right and get your feet wet before climbing up a staircase that leads directly to its door – just don’t turn up without a reservation.
While most of your attention on Cala d’Hort commands looking outwards towards Es Vedrà, the area behind the beach is also steeped in fascinating history that’s worth seeking out on foot. Trek to Ses Païsses de Cala d’Hort, an archaeological site dating back to the 5th century thought to be a settlement created by the Carthaginians. Climb to La Torre des Savinar, a defensive tower constructed to fend off pirates that now serves as a stunning spot to catch a panoramic sunset.
Or, set off in hunt of Sa Pedrera, christened by hippies in the 1950s as Atlantis. An area once quarried to build rocks for the walls of Dalt Vila – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – what remains are magical rock formations and natural pools of seawater that over the years have become shrouded in myth, largely thanks to the artists, bohemians, and spiritualists that convene there. This part of the coast isn’t signposted, so you need to engage your inner compass to locate it. But once you’ve found it, don’t mark it on a map – let it linger on the fringes like the legend of its foundations; let us float on the possibility of what it represents.