My mom has this amazing friend, Carol Ann. She is the chicest. 6’1″ with the most gorgeous long curls and a South African accent. She has been traveling her whole life and knows everything about everywhere (fun fact: we met up in Bali when I was backpacking; she was on her way to Indonesia’s Komodo Islands to see the eponymous dragons. As one does.) Over a recent visit, she told me Fomentera was one of her favorite places, an “under-the-radar” “Caribbean of Europe,” she gushed. So I booked a trip.
And while it’s a 30-minute boat ride from Ibiza, the two couldn’t be more different. There are no wild parties or public displays of wealth on this island. There are barely even hotels.
Where to Stay…
We booked the Gecko Beach Club, which is the “nicest” accommodation on the island. It’s a little off-the-beaten-path, though nothing on the island is more than a 15-minute drive. It is also outrageously expensive during peak season. SO you’re paying Aman prices for service that is subpar and rooms that are lovely but not *that* lovely. There’s also Es Mares hotel, which is in the center of Sant Francesc Xavier (the coolest town) – but it’s not on the beach. Another option is Blanco, where a chic Italian couple we met was staying, though the website looks eh. Alternatively, what most people do is rent villas on the island.
Make a dinner reservation at Can Carlitos. Go for the 8:30 sunset seating and request a table on the beach. Order: the mussels (!!!) and spicy tuna tartare over Japanese rice. The eggplant w/ soppressata and parmesan is also delicious.
Reward yourself with lunch and chilled red wine at 10.7 after you walk out of Gecko Beach Club at 10am and stroll the entire stretch of Playa Migjorn beach (15,000+ steps along a gorgeous coastline – most of it boardwalk – dotted with nude sunbathers, chic Spanish couples, private coves and lots of lizards). The prosciutto and burrata were the stand outs; skip basics like salad in favor of pastas with seafood. The view is great and the crowd is chic.
While the ambiance at El Giovale is not the highlight – my husband sat looking out at a traffic-filled roundabout – they do serve delicious Italian food. Request a seat on the upper deck area (unless traffic-filled roundabouts are your thing); get the artichokes and eggplant and pasta pasta pasta. The carbonara looked to be the house speciality but pregnancy restrictions got in the way of my research.
The perfect place to pick up Italian men, or bring kids early…or just for pregnant ladies who need a pre-dinner snack is Chezz Gerdi. It’s also got amazing sunset views and pizza. Don’t miss the “vegan smoothie” on the menu – strawberries + coconut meat + almond milk – that tastes so much better than the sum of its parts. Plus, there’s a great photo op with an old VW bus. (see above).
For delicious lobster paella try Es Caló. It’s chill, laid-back and beautiful. Good for lunch or a calm dinner.
Make sure to spend entire days swimming at Playa de Illetes, the most gorgeous beach ever, and have lunch at Juan y Andrea to get a taste of the scene in neighboring Ibiza. Shop in Sant Francesc and buy all the silk bikinis at Como Da and new old stock vintage sunglasses at Le Voyeur and silky Giada Forte pants at Labtique. Visit Pilar de Mola’s bi-weekly market and mingle with the island’s hippy inhabitants and peruse jewelry and ceramic plates. Have a cab pull over to show you the Ferrer salt mines that look like pink sand beaches. Have daytime beers at Lucky and/or Kiosko 62.
As I type, Carol Ann is currently traveling through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, so maybe I’ll book a trip there next? But I am eternally grateful to her for introducing me to the little slice of magic in the world that is Formentera.
Before you go, read…
New York Times Magazine
Conde Nast Traveller