The locals might have been onto something good when they decided on the lizard as the unofficial symbol of Formentera – the Spanish island is teeming with these tiny reptiles whom, much like the summer vacationers, spend their days basking lazily in the sun. The island was first stumbled upon back in the early seventies by German hippies in search of an antidote to the debauchery of Ibiza, and still today Formentera has preserved most of its bohemian vibes of yore. No coincidence then that the best spot to stay is the aptly named Gecko Beach Club – a twenty seven-room hotel inaugurated in 2008.
The property sits unobtrusively on Playa de Migjorn, the islands longest beach, and features a seaward facing pool surrounded by manicured lawn and scattered deck chairs. The rooms adhere to the ‘barefoot luxury’ philosophy; bright and airy spaces comfortably decorated in sandy tones with wooden furnishings. Further up the shore lies the legendary Blue Bar; this decades old establishment mixes some of the meanest mojitos and its dj’s, sunset views and beachside quirkiness guarantee it’s there to stay for many years to come. The hotel bar also serves up some trendy cocktails to loungey beats, whereas the restaurant prepares Mediterranean dishes with an Asian twist and both are open to outsiders as well as hotel guests. However for some authentic Spanish flavors head to Sant Francesc, the main town, to any of the delicatessens for a sampling of jamon cerrano cured ham, queso manchego cheese or the traditional ensaimada sweet bread.
Head north to Formentera’s tip for the top beaches; Playa de ses Illetes has had its fine white sand and calm turquoise waters rated as amongst the most stunning in the Mediterranean – on par with any Caribbean tropical idyll. Sightseeing is limited but a visit to the weekly artisan market in Pilar de la Mola is worthwhile. No airport means the only way in is by boat; a thirty minute high speed ferry from Ibiza. The island is only 12 miles long and is easily traveled by scooter or quad bike, to better handle some of the unpaved roads, both of which can be rented fairly cheaply near the ferry terminal. September is the best season to visit; the holiday making hoards have all but disappeared and the temperatures are still high enough to enjoy the beach life, before the island is re possessed by local farmers and falls under winter’s eerie veil.