We'll take the boat in San Antonio's harbour
and sail along the bay following the Sun to the West.
The South coast of Sant Antoni de Portmany
(from the Roman "Portus Magnus", meaning great harbour)
actually falls within the San José Municipal District.
The county border starts at the beach of "Es Puet",
about a kilometre from the town centre of San Antonio.
San José possesses more then fifty
per cent of all Ibiza's beaches on just over a third of the
island's coast, which has made this once small village and
the people (together with Calviá, Mallorca) the richest
Town Hall "per capital" in Spain.
We'll sail along the built-up coast of "Cala
de Bou" till "Port des Torrent". The beach
of "Cala Bassa" comes next. After turning "Punta
de sa Torre" and leaving behind the early 17th century
tower, from where the population was alerted with fire and
smoke if a suspicious boat was coming to shore, we are then
in "Cala Conta" and by the little islands that shelter
the bay from the west winds.
The scenery, the light and the colours around
this area are really splendid.
"Conejera", the largest of the
uninhabited islands around Ibiza, is the one you see, five
miles away, when you watch the Sunset from San Antonio. Its
name means a place where rabbits live, and there are quite
a few living on it. There is also a pretty blue lizard "Lacerta
muralis". Seagulls of different species "Larus argentatus"
and "Larus ridibundus" form colonies on it. On its
cliff, different kinds of falcons can be seen "Falco
peregrinus", "Falco eleonor" and "Falco
tinnunculus". By the coast we find groupers, "Serranus
gigas", black breams "Cantharus lineatus", morays and conger eels, among a lot of other fish.
There is a local legend about Conejera that
Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general, was born on it.
His mother was sailing around by these waters when the boat
had to put to shore because of stormy weather. They sailed
around Conejera to the East; the inner side, safe from the
big waves and strong winds. She could not wait for the hospital
to be built and the place was as good as any other. "Ebessos",
Ibiza, was then the most important colony and city of the
Balearics. One of his ancestors, General Magon, founded the
city of Mahón, in Menorca, where he sheltered with
the rest of the Carthaginian fleet, after being defeated in
Sicily and Sardinia by the Romans. So, who knows? One thing
we can be sure of, his elephants were not from this island.
Nearby the sands of Cala Conta there is
"S'illa des Bosc" which seems to be easy to reach,
but has very dangerous waters, with strong currents and reefs
around it. The seabed is covered with historical wrecks. In
the Punic Museum of Ibiza we can see plenty of amphora and
other relics rescued from them. Locals used to augment their
amount of proteins by collecting eggs of seagulls and chickens
of "Virots" (a type of autochthonous albatross)
About three miles out to the West there
are five little islands known as "S'es Bledas".
After that, the seabed drops several hundred metres and there
is open sea for seventy-five miles till mainland Spain. There
is a very rich ecosystem in the waters between the islands.
Tuna "Thunnus thynnus" Amberjack "Seriola dumerili"
Barracuda "Sphyraena sphyraena" Scorpion fish "Scorpaena
scrofa" Weevers "Trachinus draco" "Trachinus
araneus" Comber "Serranus cabrilla" "Serranus
scriba" Spiny lobster "Palinurus elepha" etc.
We'll sail now to the South, along the West
Coast of San José or the "Sunset Riviera"
as some call it.
"Cala Tarida", "Cala Corral",
"Cala Molí" and "Cala Vadella"
were solitary, sandy beaches forty-five years ago, with not
even a single house in miles. Now thousands of apartments
and some big and expensive villas surround them. This is how
the people of San José made the first money, by selling
and building on the entire littoral, where before they earned
practically nothing from these "bad" lands, comprising
the rocky, wild, windy and dangerous coast. But how beautiful
and full of life it was.
Two or three miles from the shore there
is the island "S'espartá", with interesting
rock for its Flora. There is a protected endemic plant on
it ("Limonium ebussitanum"... I think), Asparagus
"Asparagus officinalis" and "Stipa tenacissima"
Esparto, that gives its name to the island. Locals used to
go every year to collect it, to make ropes, bags and carpets
with its fibrous leaves. There are also seagulls, falcons
and cormorants. The lizards on this island, even though they
are the same species as the rest of the islands, are black.
(Charles Darwin probably could have come to the same conclusions
as his "Theory of Evolution" by visiting and studying
the lizards and terrestrial snails of these different little
islands. The old Ibicenco sailors could tell from which island
every lizard came, just by its colour).
After Cala Vadella's cape we change course
to the south-east, suddenly in front of your eyes, twelve
hundred feet of vertical rock rising from the sea, is the
island of "Es Vedra". By the side, its little brother
"Es Vedranell" looks like a bit of the Moon on Earth.
What can we say about this magic rock that
hasn't been said? Perhaps, the best thing to do is to experience
personally the emotions that grow within oneself just by watching
its changing colours in the Sunset's twilight.
Being a bit more academic, we can speak
about goats, seagulls, lizards and the rest of Fauna and Flora
that live on it.
Goats (the autochthonous Cabra pitiussa)
have been living wild on Es Vedra (on and off) for hundreds
of years, some say thousands. Once or twice a year, they swim
ashore and scale the cliffs chasing the new-born Kids (I must
admit that they are delicious).
Es Vedra's population has to be kept under
control, or there is the risk that they will eat all the plants
and die, as has happened in the past. Now more then ever,
because someone brought rabbits to the island and we all know
how fast they grow in number. The local government takes care
now to protect the autochthonous plants ("Crithmum maritinum",
"Mesembry anthement" and the very rare "Cynomorium coccineum" among others) and keep the goats in viable
numbers for the environment, as well as the rabbits, and the
seagulls, which are becoming a real problem for the aeroplanes.
In the surrounding waters, apart from the
fish already mentioned, there are Turtles "Chelonia Midas"
and "Careta careta". Sharks "Lamna cornubica"
"Prionace glaucus" Hammerhead "Sphyrna zygaena".
Dolphins "Tursiops truncates" is the most common,
"Delphinus delphis" is also easy to see, racing
with the boats.
Back on the seashore are "Cala Carbo"
and "Cala d'Hort" two of my favourite beaches. Both
always have crystal clear waters, enough room, and the best
and absolute freshest fish in their seaside restaurants. Come
to think of it, I'll stop here for today. And that's what
you should do, if you happen to be lucky enough to be nearby,
like good fish and can afford it. "Bon profit".
The Good News
The good news this week is the number of
"Blue Flags" that the islands keep achieving. The
Blue Flag is the symbol of the best quality beaches. Ibiza
and especially Formentera lead the Mediterranean. The Tour
Operators voted the beach of "Ses Salinas" as "The
Best Mediterranean Beach" again. Congratulations and
thank you very much to everybody that made it possible. Only
one regret... To have bigger beaches doesn't mean they are
better, only that you can put more people on them. There is
enough extra sand added to the shore. In my opinion, the Blue
Flag or any other colour flag, should not be won at the cost
of losing the Natural Wild Life.
José P Ribas