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Benirrás, Ibiza and the sunset drumming ritual

Why do people go to Benirras for the Sunday sunset drumming ritual and what's the best way to get there and back? Read on...

Ibiza is a peace-loving place. The native Ibicencos are so famous for their tolerance that there is an actual phrase to describe it. “Tolerancia Ibicenca,” as it's cheerfully known, often cited as the reason why nobody is surprised when everyone is shockingly late (just have another Hierbas) and everything takes at least 5 times longer than you expected. Heh.

Seriously though, after numerous invasions and colonisations (the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Moors, the Catalans, the Spanish and most recently, the Tourists - capital letter intentional) the island inhabitants have become experts at cultivating a patient tolerance of other cultures. Ibiza herself, of course, has never invaded anywhere. Mainly, I suspect, because nobody ever wants to leave!

So it's not surprising to learn that the legendary drumming ritual, every Sunday at Benirras, has at its heart a profound history, related to this generous spirit of tolerance.

On Sunday August 18, 1991, known locally as The Day of the Drums, many hundreds of people gathered on Benirras beach, protesting against the first Gulf War in Iraq. This anti-war gathering later grew into a huge, free, annual event, attracting thousands of hippies and peace-lovers from all over the World. The message was that Ibiza does not like war.

Sadly, due to ‘health and safety' concerns from the authorities, the event was banned. And since then, a dedicated collective of drummers have turned up faithfully, every Sunday at Benirras, to continue the tradition and drum together, wildly, hypnotically and inclusively, as the sun slips into the horizon.

They are joined, especially during the summer, by countless thousands of people, who sit and either gaze at the scene in wonder, or dance, magnetised by the tribal rhythms, intoxicated by the freedom, the beauty, the natural magnificence. People from all over the World, of all colours, ages, creeds and backgrounds.

Fans of the Benirras Sunday drumming ritual include supermodels, rock-stars and members of the royal family. It's really very special.

There's a big rock that juts out from the sea that looks like a massive stone hand with its index finger pointing to the sky. The sun sets just behind this rock during high season and unsurprisingly, it's known locally as ‘God's finger'

If you really love exploring the ‘real' Ibiza and want to experience this magical sunset drumming moment, then the only problem is that public transport does not run on Sundays. Not fair!

You can of course, hire a car, but really ladies and gentlemen, trying to park around Benirras on a Sunday is not a particularly happy experience. Unless you're willing to get there very early, bag a parking space and stay put all day!

So naturally, when we heard that Aquabus, a local boat company, had started a ferry-boat service to this legendary Sunday gathering, we were delighted. Here's the low-down, Ibiza lovers.

You can get a boat cruise to the Benirras sunset, from either San Antonio, San Miguel or Portinatx. You get to take in the stunning Ibiza coastline aboard a lovely, traditional, Balearic fishing trawler, arriving at Benirras in time for sunset with no driving or parking hassles. Absolutely ideal.

Once you're there, don't miss an opportunity to visit one of Ibiza's loveliest beach restaurants, Elements. Their gorgeous super-juices and cocktails are exactly what the doctor ordered!

This cruise is not VIP ladies and gents. It's refreshingly affordable and designed for you and me. The king of Spain you will probably not meet, although stranger things have happened!

This is a sociable and picturesque way to experience the magic of Benirras Sundays without a care in the world and without breaking the law or the bank. We like it. A lot.

What's more you can book easily online. Right here, for the excursions from either San Antonio, San Miguel or Portinatx. It takes 2 minutes. It's a true Ibiza classic, hats off to Aquabus!


WORDS | Jane Charilaou PHOTOS | Jane Charilaou and Aquabus

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