Iconic Ibiza beaches: Playa d’en Bossa

Of all Ibiza’s most famous beaches, perhaps – in addition to being the island’s longest – Playa d’en Bossa is also the most diverse. A sweeping lick of golden sand that seductively stretches for 2.7 kilometres while simultaneously being caressed by the Med, in many ways it’s a beach that’s everything to every man. It’s a place to rest, revive, and rave; get high, get by, and get energised. Few beaches possess such inescapable magnetism and few demand such elevated stature as a result. There is no strip of shore more emblematic of Ibiza than Playa d’en Bossa. It is the quintessential white isle icon.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. Back in the days before nomads arrived from the mainland carrying nothing but beatnik spirit, bags full of hash and heads overflowing with revolutionist ideas, Playa d’en Bossa was all but barren, save for a handful of picturesque palm trees that come dusk would cast shadows across the sand. A few sporadic buildings still clung to the shoreline, but it was landmarks like the Torre de Sa Sal Rossa – built in the 16th century to protect against attack from Turkish and North African pirates – at the south end of the strip, and the towering façade of Dalt Vila when you flung your glance northwards, that bookended the beach.

In the following years nothing much changed, except a steady stream of hippies and free-loving, anti-Franco aficionados began dropping anchor on the island. Things started to pop up on Playa d’en Bossa as a result – a raffish shack here, a decrepit table and chairs there – progress was visible, but growth was slow to the point of stopping, and organic, much like the pace of island life. But then the 80s burst into life and even Ibiza wasn’t immune to the boom and bust culture that came as part and parcel with the decade. Capitalists with a keen eye for a deal arrived en masse and before long buildings appeared as if from nowhere, changing the landscape forever.

With development inevitably came tourism, and with that, the arrival of some of Playa d’en Bossa’s most legendary venues. Bora Bora, for example, opened its doors in 1986 and immediately became famous for its era-defining brand of barefoot bohemia and shameless hedonism. People would descend from all across the island to dance with feet in the sand, dance on tables, and dance from dusty dusk till dewy dawn. The beach club is still open today, and while its resident eccentric now comes in the form of a character dressed in a Spiderman suit, its party spirit remains alive and well.

During this time, new venues were ten a penny and a huge proportion – largely off the back of the Summer of Love – were dedicated to the facilitation of good times. Playa d’en Bossa began to rival Miami in notoriety – it was even dubbed Ibiza’s South Beach by the Brits – and it lived up to this reputation in name and verve. Space Ibiza opened across the road, followed by the first of the many Passion Cafes, Coco Beach arrived at the south end, Sands was opened and sound-tracked by a slew of the world’s top DJs (Carl Cox celebrated his birthday here every year), and restaurants like Sirocco set the dining tone. By the 00s, names now synonymous with VIP Ibiza – Ushuaïa, Hard Rock Hotel and BEACHOUSE Ibiza – unequivocally changed the vibe, but in the process made the beach an absolute must-visit.

Today, Playa d’en Bossa is still adored for the palpable sense of fun that seems to seep up from its bedrock. People stumble here straight off the dancefloor to watch sunrise while recounting tales from the night just passed, they come to lie on a sunbed and drink cocktails while watching planes swoop overhead, they arrive to soak up a little slice of their own Ibiza history. For whatever reason, magic seems to lie in wait here and when the wind gets up and blows in your direction, a sense of limitless opportunity prevails.

There’s a little tale that sums up Playa d’en Bossa’s spirit nicely. At the north end of the beach, holed up in a house that’s more often than not covered in graffiti, legend has it that people in need can find shelter. The rumour goes that once upon a time, a philanthropist paid all land taxes and bills related to the house so that for the next 100 years it can serve as a refuge for the stricken. Whether this is true or not remains to be verified but compare this to Playa d’en Bossa’s VIP culture and you uncover the crux of this beach’s appeal. A place for partying, a place for dreaming, a place for solace. Everything to every man.