Formentera is a small island south-east of Ibiza and well worth a visit.
It can be explored in a day as at its longest point it is only 20 km long. Most visitors come over from Ibiza as a day excursion.
One of the Balearic islands belonging to Spain, you can only get to Formentera by ferry as there is no airport.
The good thing about this is that it means the island is not overrun by mass tourism despite having some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean.
Just look at the amazing footage in the video below:
Indeed having been to the Caribbean many times I can honestly say that some of the beaches near Illetes rival any of the Caribbean beaches I’ve been to.
Without question the best way to see the island is to hire a scooter for the day, we got a discounted rate of €15 for scooter hire on Formentera from the Ulises Cat ferry company that brought us across.
We boarded the ferry at Playa de Figueretes and paid €20 return each.
The glass bottomed ferry then goes 10 minutes down the coast to pick up more passengers at Playa d’en Bossa.
Then over the shallow waters to the harbour at La Savina taking just 35 minutes.
Getting to Formentera – La Savina
La Savina is the port of Formentera. There is no airport so this is the gateway for the island with ferries arriving from Ibiza (from Ibiza Town, San Antonio and Santa Eularia) and the Spanish mainland (from Denia).
The port is busy in July when there are regattas held here during the time of the fiestas held in honour of the patron saint virgin of sailors, Virgen del Carmen.
Formentera is shaped like a dumbbell and it narrows to a width of less than a kilometre in the middle. At each end of the island are two remote lighthouses on rocky headlands with dense pine forests.
The island’s capital is Sant Francesc.
The island is relatively flat full of fields and if you see circles of stones they are likely to be the remains of charcoal burners which produced the lime used to whitewash houses. This accounts for much of the chopping down and burning of the pine forests that previously covered the whole island.
For hundreds of years Formentera was subjected to attacks by pirates hence the number of watchtowers around the island.
Even to this day have only just under 10,000 permanent residents.
Historically people on Formentera produced salt, limestone and fished but these industries have dwindled and the island mostly relies on tourism economically.
Touring Around Formentera – Where to Start
Below we include a map of Formentera to help you get around the island:
I would recommend taking a left virtually as soon as you leave La Savina towards Illetes. To enter the nature reserve costs you €2 but is well worth it. You are about to discover the islands best beaches with turquoise waters you would expect to find in the Caribbean.
First you will pass some salt pans (Ses Salines) with many species of birds.
The beach on the left is the most crowded and it is also more sheltered than on the right-hand side. The beach does get crowded and many people go on to the jetty to take photos.
You will see many luxury yachts and power boats moored up in the shallow waters.
Just walk on a little further to escape most of the crowds and you will be amongst the dunes and the spectacular white sands and amazing waters perfect for snorkelling.
From the most northernmost point of Formentera, Punta Trocadors, you can just about swim over to the uninhabited island of Espalmador which you would have seen on the left as you came in on the ferry with its watchtower Sa Guardiola dating back to 1749.
We suggest starting at this beach simply because it is the best one on Formentera, albeit a little bit crowded in summer. Once you have done a bit of sunbathing and swimming you can proceed to explore the rest of the island. Don’t forget you can always come back here at the end of your tour if you don’t find anywhere better en route.
Now heads south and you may want to stop at Ca Na Costa if you have any interest in archaeological ruins as here you will find remains which have been identified as a tomb dating from 2000 BC.
We continued to ride through the village of Sant Ferran which used to be popular with hippies that is now a nondescript town. Guidebooks will mention the former cafe/bar of Fonda Pepe popular with hippies which is now a bus station. Clearly there’s no point stopping for this.
Continue heading along the main road towards La Mola. On the left are some rocky beaches and on the right the longest stretch of beach known as Platja Migjorn.
Definitely have a look at Es Calo a picturesque cluster of restaurants, cafes and apartments. It is at this point that the water companies in the most beautiful turquoise colour. You really get a sense of the older times when the fishing boats used to launch from here.
Now you go up a relatively steep road gaining height rapidly (there are great views back over Formentera).
When you reach the top where it becomes completely flat this area is La Mola culminating in the lighthouse known as Faro de la Mola built in 1861.
There is a big drop to the rocks at the bottom hence the need for the lighthouse which can be seen 60 km out to sea.
La Mola is the more spectacular lighthouse with the Jules Verne monument next to it. There is a nice restaurant and bar here (Es Puig) as well as the bus stop if you are unable to rent a scooter or car.
Jules Verne Monument
There was a monumental here for the author Jules Verne who was a visitor here and used it as the setting for his 1877 novel ‘Journey Round the Solar System’.
Near here is the cave known as Cova des Fum where it is said that in 1108 Norman invaders tortured and burned to death Arab inhabitants.
Playa Migjorn (Platja de Migjorn)
We then came down the steep hill and hopped from beach bar to beach bar along Playa Migjorn on the left-hand side of the main road.
Riding on your scooter is just a sensational feeling. You can quickly put the stand down and hop back on again easily if the beach doesn’t look good enough to stop at.
You should note in advance that there are a lot of nude sun bathers on the beach at Platja Migjorn although there were plenty of families who were dressed or in suitsuits. Everyone seems to mingle in naturally without caring.
Nude bathing is allowed on any beach in Spain but clearly this beach is known to be a naturalist beach so people are more inclined to come here so they won’t feel so self-conscious.
We then continued and drove through the capital of Sant Francesc heading towards Cap de Berberia. This area is full of pine trees and the watchtower Torre des Garroveret.
You might like to continue up the West Coast to the Cala Saona beach mostly used by locals, not the best beach on the island.
La Savina port to Sant Francesc de Formentera is 3km
La Savina port to Sant Ferran is 6km
La Savina port to Es Pujols is 6km
La Savina port to Es Calo is 12km
La Savina port to Es Pilar is 17km
La Savina port to Cala en Baster is 8km
La Savina port to Ca Mari is 8km
La Savina port to Punta Prima is 8km
La Savina port to Cala Saona is 8km
La Savina port to Cap Barbaria is 11km