If you ever needed an excuse to try the incredible sport of SUP (stand up paddle boarding) which we have been developing at Parc Bryn Bach as part of our exciting Adventure Activity programme, then read on!
I have been in search of a winter SUP location for some time; looking for a chance to leave the grey damp and cold UK weather behind to paddle with some warmth on my back during the winter.
Ibiza has never really registered with me as an adventure location, but a few months ago I was delivering a 3 Star BCU Kayaking Course and met a representative of Kayak Ibiza. Over the 3 day course Lauren, one of the Ibiza Guides, persuaded me that I needed to visit the island to discover what it has to offer as a SUP adventure location.
I decided to take the plunge and started to investigate flight and car hire options and was amazed at the low cost deals on offer; the return flight with my board cost just £45 and I booked 5 days car rental for £23.
After a two hour flight from Bristol, we made our final approach to the island and were flying so low that you could get a real picture of what Ibiza has to offer, I found myself already scouting out routes before the plane had even landed.
Stepping outside the airport was like stepping into another world after the cold of our British Winter, I had the sun on my back and quickly got rid of my winter skin, changing into my shorts, T shirt, flip flops and shades ready for the drive to the accommodation.
I had booked an apartment in Portinatx, which is situated on the north west tip of the island; I was initially worried that this would be too far north, as I was anticipating paddling in the south but I soon realized that you are only ever a 40 minute drive from any part of the island, which gives you 360 degree access to the stunning Ibiza coast line. The accommodation was great and directly overlooked the bay of Portinatx, again at this time of year I only paid £65 for 4 night’s accommodation.
A short drive from Portinatx is Sant Jaun, a small village which dates back to the 16 century and has a church at its focal point, with a few cafés and restaurants where I had arranged to meet Lauren. We discussed the followings days paddling over a few ‘Café con leche’ (coffee with milk) which I grew very fond of during the trip.
That evening I was so excited about the thought of the next few days paddling that I decided to try and get a cheeky little hour at one of the bays I had spotted on my way to St Jaun. Logistics on Ibiza is extremely easy with all the bays being well sign posted and providing easy access to the water’s edge.
Xyclar Bay is situated near to Portinatx and faces west with beautiful turquoise waters and a small cluster of islands which make for some interesting exploring.
On this trip I had taken a Jobe 11 6" Expedition SUP board, which is ideal for coastal touring with storage on the back and front, it’s light and extremely maneuverable and able to cut through any chop for a smooth glide.
The first thing I noticed on launching into the calm Mediterranean Sea was the clarity of the water; I had full visibility straight down for over 50 feet in some parts, which gave an incredible view of the sea life below. It was literally like flying over another world, I had limited time to spend in the bay as the sun was starting to set, providing more amazing views, so as I paddled back to the beach I felt like the luckiest person on the island and was completely psyched for the next few days.
Struggling to sleep that evening, I woke early and packed my paddling gear into the hire car and headed towards Ibiza town to meet up with Lauren for a coffee at Talamanca Bay, where my first taste of sea touring on Ibiza would begin.
In season, Talamanca Bay is packed with tourists, but at this time of year its quiet with a few locals exercising and enjoying the early season sunshine. The bay looks onto Ibiza Old Town, which is a stunning settlement from 654B.C. The Carthaginians discovered Ibiza and founded Ibiza Town, making this one of the earliest towns in Europe. They christened the town Ibossim, quite similar to its present day name, the town is encapsulated within city walls with narrow cobbled streets, a must to visit if you’re in Ibiza!
The journey we had planned was from Talamanca Bay to Sestanyol Bay, stopping there for lunch to enjoy a swim and a bite to eat. I tagged onto an organized trip lead by Paulo, the owner of Kayak Ibiza, and Lauren who were accompanied by 10 Americans in sea kayaks; I was the only SUP on this trip and had a few strange looks when I was inflating my green machine on the beach.
We headed out from the beach and I paddled out with Paulo, as this was my first opportunity to chat to him about the area, sea conditions and safety. Paulo is originally from South America but has lived in Ibiza for many years and is extremely experienced with a wealth of knowledge on sea touring around the island and an in-depth knowledge from a geological and ecological perspective, and also happens to be a great guy!
The paddling was amazing, with rugged limestone cliffs revealing a mixture of limestone and igneous rock folding to form some amazing rock structures. There were some small caves to play in and as expected, amazing visibility levels down to the sea bed. The temperature was perfect for paddling with a warm 18-20 degrees with a gentle breeze, sea conditions were flat and calm in the bays with a little chop further afield, but nothing to affect the SUP.
On returning to Talamanca Bay after a 4 hour adventure, I was treated to a sea food feast at one of the bay restaurants which was amazing and consisted of fresh fish caught that day!
At lunch we discussed the best plan of attack for the rest of the day as the wind had picked up slightly, owing to the thermic sea breeze which generally happens between 1pm and 4pm on the island. One of the amazing things about this island is that there is always somewhere to shelter from prevailing conditions, which means you can always paddle. We decided to head further south and paddle from Salinas, which is quite possibly one of the most iconic of all Ibiza beaches.
Las Salinas is a long expanse of soft golden sand surrounded by a nature reserve including sand dunes, pine forests and spectacular salt flats. The sea is particularly salty here, which makes it incredibly easy to stay afloat when swimming, with an old pirate look out point perched on the peninsular guarding the bay. We headed out from the bay following the coastline south, this journey felt a little more remote as the height of the cliffs started to increase, which gave a real sense of remoteness and adventure. Every turn brought breathtaking scenery and as the sun started to set I was treated to more spectacular views.
Over the next couple of days I was treated to some of the best touring routes that Ibiza has to offer courtesy of help and advice from Kayak Ibiza. I think one of the trip highlights for me was from Cala Salada out and around Ses Margalides Island. This was a real treat for me, paddling solo with no sight of anyone or anything accept a multitude of cormorants diving around me and even sightings of dolphins in the distance.
The clarity of the water is amazing and I was told by Paulo that this is due to the Sea Grass that surrounds the island, "Posidonia Oceanica" (commonly known as Neptune Grass) is a species that is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and filtrates the salt water, producing crystal blue and turquoise seas around the island, a SUP dream!
After a 6 hour paddle I arrived back at the beach to sit in the shade and enjoy some fresh bread, olives and cheese, which I had purchased in one of the many Spanish villages that exist around the island.
The Island is rich in history and has a plethora of hidden beaches which are only accessible by boat or SUP, and there are many hidden gems such as Moon Beach.
I also visited the infamous Benirras Beach, famous for its hippy colony and the magnificent drumming parties which take place there. Just around the corner from this beach is the impressive S'Orenga Caves which are completely inaccessible from the land, they provide a spectacular backdrop treating you to a blast of multi coloured reef which really stands out in the calm waters.
I was really impressed by Ibiza, not only the spectacular SUP options and the cleanliness of the island, but the extreme friendliness of the locals with nothing being too much trouble. The Island is far more than a party island and during March and April it provides an excellent winter get away with warm weather and isolated paddling that gives a real sense of adventure.
Every corner you turn on this amazing coastline gives breathtaking scenery, crystal clear waters and solitude. The island has a very multi-cultural feel to it, with a definite hint of South America and Polynesia. There are some great places to eat and the food I experienced was truly amazing.
I would like to thank Lauren and Paulo from Kayak Ibiza for their kind hospitality; making me feel at home on the island and treating me to some of the best SUP touring I have ever experienced. I will be returning to the island later this month for more paddling adventures and look forward to catching up with these guys.
Parc Bryn Bach will be running some SUP adventures to Ibiza next year; dates and prices will be available shortly on our faceook page and website. As well as SUP, there will also be additional guided activities on offer such as sea kayaking and walking, as the island has some amazing scenic walks.