I consider myself an Ibiza girl through and through. I came to the island in 2005 for a holiday and never left – I am well and truly under the spell of this Balearic beauty and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except, well… there is one thing about Ibiza that I just don’t feel an affinity with. It’s an element so many people profess an undying love for, and so, I am slightly scared that once I say this out loud, once I write it in a public forum, once I post it on social media… I could be excommunicated from Ibiza. It’s controversial, but (deep breath) I just don’t love the north of Ibiza.
Cue the hate mail.
It’s not like I haven’t given it a try. In the many many years I’ve been here, of course I have visited the north of Ibiza hundreds of times. I think the north of the island is absolutely stunning. Some of the best hidden gems on this island – whether beaches, shops, restaurants, jewellers, hotels or markets – are found in the north. I have friends who live in the north. In fact, I have friends who live in the south but profess an undying love for the north. I head to the north for work at least once a week – in fact, the White Ibiza office is almost as far north as you can get, on the cusp of Benirras. But despite this (and I can assure you it’s definitely not because of it), I just don’t feel a connection with the area.
Of course, I see the beauty of the north. It’s absolutely breathtaking. That cerulean sea, those long and winding roads, the fragrant pine forests, the quaint and charming villages, the views from those incredible mountaintops and cliffs, the magical fincas set in the heart of the campo, the beautiful natural flora, the kaleidoscopic colours of the sunset – it’s simply stunning. I totally understand why so many people are enamoured of the north. And yet… I remain indifferent.
One part of me definitely wants to be a northern girl. I see the tight-knit community of the north gathered together at places like Can Curune, or Can Guimo, or the streets of San Juan on a Sunday. They all look so chummy and pally and, well, like a family! Everyone knows everyone, seriously. Expats call Can Curune (which is pronounced ‘Can Coor-oo-neigh in Spanish): Can Curu-neighbours because it’s like Ibiza’s very own version of Ramsay street. You can spot the difference between the northerners and the drop-in southern day-trippers a mile off in these places.
You see, there’s definitely a (very enviable) signature style I see many people in the north wearing, almost like a uniform – think boho meets yogi, amplified by a thousand. It starts with either wildly patterned yoga pants or long flowy skirts topped with layers and layers of fabric (starting with a vest, probably with a long sheer short over the top, then a lush soft cashmere sweater, a long cardigan, a scarf and the piece de resistance, a fur (quite possibly faux) lined gilet, with tall boots (take your pick between muk-luks, Minnetonkas, vintage cowboy – it’s got to be vintage – and Uggs). The accessories tend to lean towards long feathers or some kind of beads (usually collected from travels in India, Peru, Mexico, Thailand), layered with exquisitely fine gold jewellery.
Obviously I am generalising – I know there are plenty of women in the north with a healthy Jimmy Choo addiction – but you get the picture. It’s those layers that are really key to surviving a day-to-night experience in the north. Even the northern men have got the layers down pat – swap gilet for poncho and you can imagine! That’s the thing about the north – the weather changes so dramatically from morning until night, so much more so than the east or south. You can wake up as the mist is rising off the mountains, rug up and then by lunchtime it’s practically 25 degrees and definitely t-shirt weather as you go for a hike around the coast. But then as soon as the sun’s gone, you need to wrap up warm again (at this time of year I mean – in summer it’s just balmy!) and sit by an open fire or wrapped in a fully blanket at night.
There have also been people who make me wish I was one of the northern crew. People who have this magical aura that makes me want to spend more time in their presence. The wonderful Trish Whelan of Soul Adventures – a Kundalini yoga teacher and shaman with an incredible retreat haven in the hills of Cala Xuclar. When I go to her house, with its amazing outdoor yoga deck, crystals, gongs and jaw-dropping views, I always leave declaring I simply MUST spend more time there. But then… the thought of driving from the very top of Dalt Vila, all the way up to Cala Xuclar (yes, I can hear you all mocking me – it’s only a half an hour drive!) just doesn’t grab me.
And then there’s the charismatic Merel of the iconic World Family Ibiza brand. This woman is a true life force, and from the moment I met her I wanted to be part of her family. She is the authentic pioneer of the northern ‘look’ – and I want to buy every single boot, bag, dress, coat, earring, bead and yes, gilet in the World Family Ibiza store (conveniently almost next door to our office). But then… when I come back to my little ancient-meets-urban world here in Dalt Vila, I have to wonder – will I look completely out of place? Yes, I KNOW we should all dress for ourselves, but when I wear the northern look at home, I somehow end up looking more like a bag lady, while all the northern girls pull it off with panache.
Oh! These ones are not people, but places: Los Enamorados – I mean, when I walked into that hotel for the first time I thought, I am never, ever leaving. It couldn’t have been more ‘me’ if I’d decorated it myself. But again, when I’m sitting at home on my lovely rooftop terrace, I will always choose a restaurant in town for dinner rather than jump in the car and head up to Portinatx. And Las Dalias – the hippie market. I absolutely love scouring the market for treasures and then heading to Bar Anita’s for what has to be the very best tortilla in Ibiza. And don’t get me started on beaches…
When I read back my own words above, it all sounds very romantic. In fact, it sounds like I am secretly obsessed with the north – one doth protest too much! After all, what’s not to love about somewhere that’s stunningly beautiful and full of lovely creative and stylish people and fun things to do? I DON’T KNOW. I just can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps I’m just a townie by nature. Or maybe, Ibiza town has cast a spell on me that makes me forget how wonderful the north of the island is every time I return home. Maybe I’m just scared that if I spend too much time up there, I’ll want to give up my apartment and move to the campo. Maybe I need hypnotherapy. Maybe I just need to keep writing until I’ve convinced myself I love it. But don’t worry, that’s what journals are for.
Editor’s note: Keep your eyes peeled for Issue 4 of WHITE Ibiza Magazine, featuring exclusive interviews with Trish Whelan and Merel Krielaart. And don’t let Miss W’s opinion of the north put you off – it’s the best!