“It’s all about the JOURNEY not the finish line…”
It’s 9.13am on a chilly Saturday in November and I have already shed actual tears brought on by the crisp morning air, before wiping pearls of sweat off my forehead just half an hour later. All that before I have even had a bite of my ham and cheese breakfast ‘bocadillo’! It’s Stage 6 of the Around The Island in 10 Walks series of weekly hikes and once again, I am experiencing a Saturday worlds away from my usual weekend routine. And it’s great!
Setting off from the quiet village of Sant Mateu, we are treated to dreamlike scenery as we make our way through the autumnal vineyards, wisps of fog hanging in the air. With 26km and some considerable climbs ahead of us, our destination for today is Benirras beach in the North of Ibiza, famous for its hippy drummers and the striking ‘Finger of God’ rock formation that reaches out from the sea.
Toby’s word of the day for Stage 6 is ‘journey’, a fitting choice given that we are just over the halfway mark of this incredible challenge – and some of us have already noticed the positive impact it has had on our lives. The group is getting fitter (and faster), new friendships are beginning to form and we are gaining a vast variety of insider knowledge about the island we all love. As well as the bragging rights that come with tackling a challenging 30km+ walk, of course (on which I am personally planning to dine out on for the rest of my days).
It’s not long until we reach the first ‘showstopper’ of the day, the ancient stone bridge that spans the cove of Cala D’Albarca. Creating a natural walkway 27 metres above the churning waves, it takes a bit of nerve to make your way to the middle of this raw structure. “I’ll give you one tip: don’t look down,” shouts Tim, who has agreed to take a photo of my daredevil moment.
With the adrenaline flowing through my veins, the ascent that follows shortly after doesn’t seem too bad compared to previous climbs. Or could my strength and stamina really be increasing, even if I’m doing little else exercise on my non-walking days? Chuffed to bits, I start to brag to Toby about my ‘fitness journey’ before being promptly sent flying by a lose rock. A little reminder from nature not to get too cocky, perhaps?
We follow along the coastline on ancient, overgrown fishermen’s paths past ‘devil’s whip’ brambles and moss-covered rocks. Every now and again, the woods clear to reveal breathtaking views on the turquoise sea below. Toby leads us to a spectacular clifftop viewpoint he has named ‘Dolphin Lookout’ and for the umpteenth time, I betray my promise to myself to ‘retire from heights’. I get rewarded with vast views and a great little Toby anecdote, which I won’t retell here – you’ll have to find out for yourself by coming along on this particular route when it next departs as a stand-alone trek. But I will say this much, for nature lovers, it really doesn’t get better than this!
We also come across several crumbling settlements, each a welcome opportunity to learn more about the island’s fascinating past. Tales of pirate attacks may sound like children’s bedtime stories, but instead were a significant part of Ibiza’s colourful history. We walk, and we learn.
Around 1pm, it’s time for lunch and this Saturday we are stopping at the outrageously beautiful Portitxol bay close to San Miguel. Lined by quaint fishermen’s huts, the circular cove can only be reached on foot and remains one of Ibiza’s hidden gems. We climb on top of the flat roofs and stretch out, tucking into our snacks while watching the waves crash against the rocks below us. It is refreshing in so many more ways than just the physical sense!
With renewed energy, we tackle the next big climb of the day, which brings us right to the top of the cliffs that are home to the luxury hotel and spa Hacienda Na Xamena, famous for its romantic sunset views and infinity swimming pools overlooking the sea. From here, we can already sea the iconic rock structure that marks the entrance to Benirras from the water – but we still have a good two hours of walking ahead of us.
Dennis, who is new to the ‘Around The Island’ treks but has been on many of Walking Ibiza’s other tours, laughs, “To be honest, this hasn’t got much to do with ‘walking’. This is mountaineering!” But he is already talking about returning for Stage 7, so I think it’s safe to say he has enjoyed the experience.
One final steep ascent stands – quite literally – between our group and the finishing line: Cap Blanc. Summoning up our last reserve of strength, we follow the winding road up the mountain, before turning off to continue on a picturesque forest path. All of a sudden, surrounded by woods, the wind carries music into our ears. Could it really be… a saxophone?
Well, this is Ibiza, so of course it is! The closer we get to Benirras, the more instruments we can hear joining the distinctive sound of summery beach lunches. The famous hippy drummers fire us on with their hypnotic beats as we clamber down the mountainside towards this beautiful and magical beach. Ibiza may not be dancing right now, but the music never truly stops.
As has become a little tradition, we finish the day with a few stretches while sharing our thoughts on this week’s hike. With the waves crashing in our ears and looking at the elated faces around me, one thing is clear: We are all happy to be on this journey – and even happier that there is still some way to go – and grow – ahead of us!
If you want to join the next part of our ‘Around The Island in 10 Walks’ adventure, you better hurry because spaces are going fast! Are you up to the challenge? Book your spot here!
Written by Olivia Ebeling