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All aboard the Formentera Explorer

Ibiza sister islands and a world of discovery awaits.

If - like us - you have a curious sense of adventure, then the Formentera Explorer boat trip could be the one for you. Few tour operators can claim to know Ibiza and its surrounding waters better. We jumped onboard its old Ibizan fishing vessel to discover more.

By Ibiza's high August standards, the day started relatively overcast albeit with the mercury still pushing a balmy 31 degrees C. Though no sooner than we pull away from the jetty, the clouds seemingly disperse and sunshine pours onto deck. It's a good thing we came prepared.

The crowd is distinctly cosmopolitan, but luckily our hosts provide commentary in both Spanish and English. En route to the first stop of Espalmador we learnt about its special conservation status and unique ecosystems, which mean much effort is being done to preserve the habitat.


Travel on a traditional-style Ibizan fishing boat

The bar opens and we are invited to pick our refreshment. A choice of local draught beer, sangria, Mojito-style punch, soft drinks and water are all on offer, included in the price. There's something escapist about sipping on a cool beverage with the sea air on your face. Cheers!

As we clear the tip of Torre de ses Portes, we spot the unmistakable islet of Es Vedrà in the distance. It's a reminder of both how small the Pityusic Islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Espalmador are and yet, at the same time, how much there is to discover.


40 minutes to paradise

Excitement builds as we arrive at each stop

Espalmador is an untouched and pristine islet. Formentera Explorer is one of only three tour operators given permission to go right to the shore, in order to preserve the delicate balance of this uninhabited wilderness.

The shallow waters, teeming with shoals of exotic fish, really are crystal clear. You could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Caribbean.

The water looks too inviting, and some of our fellow passengers take the opportunity to dive off the side of the boat into the shallows.


Getting ready for a fabulous, fresh paella

Initially, we opt to not wander far, instead paddling up to our ankles only a few feet down the beach. We dare not stray too much as we're closing in on lunchtime - and a treat awaits.

Returning to the boat, we see steam rising from a large pot. The aroma hits our nostrils as we're each handed a bowl of delicious fresh-cooked seafood paella to tuck into. Super-sized king prawns, mussels, chicken breast, peppers and golden rice cooked to perfection.


island experts

If you forget your snorkel to see the marine life down below, they are provided on board.

Next, one of the tour's expert guides advises us to head to our right down the beach. When it comes to knowledge, they are a fountain of useful tips and recommendations.

Upon reaching the southerly tip of the sandbar, we waste little time in stripping down to our swimming gear and wading into the dreamy blue sea. Reclining back and submerging ourselves up to our necks, we arch our heads back and close our eyes as the sun beats down.

Several hundred metres away, extravagant and exclusive yachts sway on the water. In that split moment of unadulterated contentment, we forget all our hang-ups and anxieties.

Personal wealth and social status may separate us, but in that moment we feel like carefree millionaires. We could do this for hours but it's soon time to move on.


sitting at the dock of the bay

How the other half lives - yacht spotting around Formentera

The port of La Savina on Formentera is next on the agenda. Disembarking, we exchange places with visitors making the return journey. We are spoilt for choice, with bars and cafés in abundance in the port area.

For the second time today, we marvel at the luxury yachts moored up in the marina. Only this time our feet are firmly on dry land and we do so whilst enjoying a flute of Cava. It's a hard life!

Sadly, time is running away from us once more. Further exploration inland or to the beaches of Playa Illetes and Playa Levante must wait for another visit. We'll be back - earlier in the day and hiring a scooter, so we can really journey to every corner of Ibiza's lush sister island.

On the way home, the Formentera Explorer crew put on a platter of fresh fruit. Chunks of melon and pineapple, providing a burst of hydration after a day spent in the sun. The day draws to a close as we near Playa d'en Bossa and we reflect on the excursion.

This trip is a great way to spend four hours and provides just enough of a taster to stir further intrigue of both Formentera and Espalmador.

The Formentera Explorer is a superb way of seeing some gorgeous coast and amazing beaches, one which you will be dreaming of in the weeks and months to come. Get your sea legs ready and go.

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