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Insider A - Z of Ibiza: O is for off the beaten track

Discover the real Ibiza

Everyone keeps claiming one should “go and discover the real Ibiza”. Get yourself “Off the beaten track”.

But the bright lights of the clubs keep calling and the big beach bars entice you with their jugs of cava sangria and sushi on luxurious daybeds. So why should you find those eateries and bars that only the locals know about? Well, here's a shortlist of some of the places that the islanders hold dear so that you can decide for yourself. They're a little more difficult to find than your average restaurant or drinking establishment, but then, that's the whole point, right?!

Pou D'es Lleo

Located on the North-Eastern coast of the island and tucked into a tiny little cove lies Pou D'es Lleo. Pretty quiet even in high season, it is surrounded by fisherman's huts which line the edges of the sand making it a most tranquil of spots. But the hidden gem of this bay is the hostal and its restaurant which are located at the top of the slight incline before you approach the beach itself. Favoured by locals, and as Ibicenc as they come, this modest guesthouse has a beauty of a restaurant attached to it which attracts locals from all over the island. Serving up seafood, rice and typical Spanish cuisine, it is rustic, authentic and cheap - an experience a million miles away from the noise and crowds of the southern towns in the height of summer. If you choose to stay here, the rooms are basic, but ask for one on the top floor and you will get a balcony looking out onto the magical sunrises over the sea and over the cute swimming pool. Magic!

Insider Info - In the winter, Pou D'es Lleo is transformed into a wild version of itself with piles of seaweed washed ashore and the sandy beach abandoned. Walk to the left of the beach and through the trees and there is a beautiful path which takes you on a gentle walk along the cliff where the sea is crystal clear all year round. Then, of course, there is the restaurant to hit on the way back for a caña and some olives in the warmth of their bar.

El Chiringuito Gracioneta

Just a few minutes from the infamous Sunset Strip of San Antonio lies another perfect viewing point that couldn't be further away in terms of ambience. Scramble over the rocks of Cala Gracio and you will be greeted by the shaded terrace of El Chiringuito Gracioneta perched on the cliffs. Here you will find perfect seafood and paella, excellent service, wicked cocktails (the Watermelon Mojito is worth a mention!) and all at a price that is a fraction of what you would pay at one of the more well-known bars on the strip.

Insider Info - The sunsets here are simply breathtaking. With picturesque views over Cala Gracio and a gentle soundtrack to match, your sundown experience will feel suitably intimate despite the fact that you are within walking distance of San Antonio's more commercial vibes.

Las Puertas del Cielo

Just beyond the charming town of Santa Ines, is a proper local's secret nuzzled in a pine forest and perched on the edge of a horseshoe-shaped sheer cliff, sits Las Puertas El Cielo, or Heaven's Gates. The small restaurant consists of a bright, wooden conservatory and a simple terrace which is where their wood-fired barbecue has pride of place. Uncomplicated meat and fish dishes are presented with succulent potatoes and salad or vegetables at even more uncomplicated prices.

Insider Info - Get there just before sunset when you can take your beer to the cliff's edge and witness one of the island's most majestical views over the islets of Ses Margalides.

Hidden Bar

Set within a shady garden in Cala San Vicente in the most northern reach of the island, this bar and cafe sums up my “off the beaten track” ideal. Cala San Vicente is the farthest point of Ibiza from the more populated southern holiday towns, not by distance, but because of the length of time it takes to get here along the winding, steep cliff roads. But make the effort and you will be rewarded with a splendiferous cocktail and simple, locally-sourced food, made to order by the owner Amanda. Look beyond the patio and the quirky outdoor bar and you will discover a crazy golf course, with holes sponsored by none other than Fatboy Slim amongst others! Oozing character, you will be greeted with the warmest of welcomes from the hosts and you'll find yourself there for hours. It is also super family friendly with lots of adventurous areas for the kids to explore. There truly is a surprise ‘hidden' around every corner.

Insider Info - Amanda's husband Chris Edwardes is an award-winning mixologist (he opened Camden's Jazz Cafe back in the day and was head barman at The Groucho) and you will soon discover why. As day turns to night, the trees are lit up with fairy lights and you can sip on his Pulp Addictions or Operation Nougat cocktails and take in the scent of this magical garden of delights...

So it may not be your plan to venture away from the obvious choices, but as you can see, there's a lot to be said for striking out on your own! You know it makes sense!

Next week, P is for Pintxos, or small snacks held together with toothpicks and served in bars across the island. I will be pointing out the places that the locals swear by to get the very best of these tasty little morsels...

Insider's A - Z of Ibiza

WORDS | Leena Sharma

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