¿Escape? ¡Yes! Escape from the overcrowding, the traffic jams, the tolls and the abusive prices. Because Ses Illetes has become, most probably, the most expensive and crowded beach in Spain (and maybe in Europe). The beach that was considered the second best beach in Europe and the fifth best in the world by the TripAdvisor community of travelers is no longer among the top 25. Could it be because the fame is killing it?
What am I going to offer you in this post?
- What not to like about Ses Illetes.
- Alternative beaches to Ses Illetes.
- Tips to avoid the fame of Ses Illetes.
- Where to eat in Ses Illetes.
- Who brings you the food to the boat: restaurants with boatman.
- Tips on sunbeds and umbrellas.
- How to get to Ses Illetes: recommendations and prices.
- How to eat on the beach at mainland prices.
- The other paradises of Formentera or how to be alone in August.
| Ses Illetes beach (Xalanes). © El Playólogo/Maremecum
What not to like about Ses Illetes
I do not know what or who is to blame: if the disproportionate "yachtline" or not being able to pass with the car or paying the "toll". In any case it is the overcrowding, not having a place to spread out the towel or drop anchor that is killing it. Because I do not know if you know that here is concentrated the largest number of luxury yachts in the Mediterranean and that the view of the horizon, the "skyline" that you see when you lie on the sand, is always cut by huge yachts with helipad or sailboats for rent. Dozens. Hundreds! The boats that come from Ibiza to spend the day "park" as they can on incredible waters where there is hardly any place to drop anchor without damaging the posidonia oceanica, and, of course, many do not like that. And then there is the fact that they charge 300 € per couple to eat in a beach bar, the price of renting sunbeds and umbrellas, that they do not allow you to pass with the car because it is a Natural Park and all parking lots are already saturated .... That's why I'm going to give you a few tips and tricks to really enjoy Ses Illetes and my beloved Formentera. Places where you will be comfortable, so that you don't end up being like the TripAdvisor users who no longer consider it the best beach in Spain. Do you feel like it? Then come on!
| Hundreds of yachts of all types and lengths anchor in front of Ses Illetes. © El Playólogo/Maremecum
The alternative to Ses Illetes
If you arrive at the beach of Ses Illetes and it is not as appetizing as you were expecting (because of the overcrowding, the seaweed or the waves) I recommend you a place very close so that you do not have to move the car, which will have cost you enough work already to park it. Let's start with a place very close to Ses Illetes, which you can easily reach on foot. This is the Llevant beach, the hidden face of Ses Illetes, where the waters can be even more transparent and beautiful than those of its famous sister (especially when westerly winds blow), and where yachts and bathers are counted on the fingers of the hand. Here you are not likely to see hordes of tourists or sunbeds or umbrellas for rent, nor the hustle and bustle of boatmen fetching their diners directly to the yacht. Here you will not see any of the reasons why Ses Illetes is no longer in the Top Ten worldwide. Because here the horizon is only interrupted by the silhouette of a distant islet, Espardell, as far away as you will feel from the shouting of half of Italy that shows off their bodies in Ses Illetes. Because this is another world. This really is the true island of calm. There is only one moment when things change: if a strong westerly wind blows and there is no one to stop at Ses Illetes, then the troops move to the other side and it is not as calm as any other day.
| Llevant beach on the right of the image, and on the left Ses Illetes beach with the island of s'Espalmador in the background. © El Playólogo/Maremecum
Tips to avoid the fame of Ses Illetes
If, despite everything, you are still determined to visit the beaches of Ses Illetes... get up early! Because access to cars and motorcycles is limited (384 and 1,132 places respectively) and when the "canner" (those who take care of placing the bike like sardines in a can) warns that there is no more room, you will have to wait in the sun at the barrier half an hour (or even more) before someone leaves and let you pass upon payment of about 6 € (per car and depending on the season) or 4 € (per bike). What a face you get when they do not let you in since 10 am! Not many years ago that did not happen before 12 noon and now you see crying and quarrels from very early (what a tedious job the guy at the barrier!). That's what fame is all about. You should know that electric cars do not pay and that quads do not pass even if they pay because they are forbidden. And that on foot, or by bike, you can always pass without limitations.
| A good way to enjoy the beach of Illetes is to rent a catamaran, with which you can get to Espalmador and enjoy the crossing. © El Playólogo/Maremecum.
Ses Illetes: where to eat
The best advice I can give you is to check prices before sitting at the table. Surely you still remember the 332 € for a couple to eat at the beach bar Juan and Andrea. It was the most resounding sablazo of the summer of 2015. Well, just know that everything is still as expensive (or more), so before sitting at the table of any of the restaurants in Ses Illetes (Juan and Andrea, Es Ministre, Es Molí de Sal and El Pirata) read the menu carefully. El Pirata has a reputation for being more restrained with prices. And see if you have enough money with you. I won't forget that when I was a kid (almost 30 years ago) they charged 1,500 pesetas (9 €) at Es Ministre for a sweet ham and cheese sandwich.
Ses Illetes: restaurants with boatman
A restaurant with boatman service means that they come to pick you up from your own boat to eat in their restaurant, which is very convenient because it is usually a much larger and more comfortable boat than the typical small auxiliary of the charter sailboats. In addition, the boats of medium length do not usually carry auxiliary and you can not go ashore except on a dock, or swimming. So if they come to pick you up from the boat, you can get dressed up and arrive dry at the table. They can also bring the food on board, so you can enjoy it in the privacy of your floating island.
This is the list of restaurants with boatman service on the beach of ses Illetes:
- Es Molí de Sal (between Ses Illetes beach and Es Cavall d'en Borras beach, CH 87, tel.: 971 187 491) .
- El Pirata (971 324 064 VHF 88).
- Es Ministre (609 600 538 VHF 75)
- Juan and Andrea (630 258 144 VHF 74).
Ses Illetes: sunbeds and umbrellas for rent
The rentals of sunbeds and umbrellas on this beach are also among the most expensive on the islands, but the worst thing is not that, but that there are almost never any free sunbeds left. They are almost all reserved! The tourists who come every day usually have them reserved (and paid) in advance, so the offer is very reduced.
| At the end of the beach of Ses Illetes is the pier where the tourists who come from the port of La Savina get off in the Barca Bahia, a small tourist boat. © El Playólogo/Maremecum.
How to get to Ses Illetes
To know how to get to Ses Illetes beach the first thing you have to know is how to get to Formentera, which is only possible from Ibiza and by boat.
Ferry Ibiza - Formentera: There are either shipping lines with large ferries or small excursion boats that arrive every day to the island and depart from the city of Ibiza, Figueretas, Playa d'en Bossa, San Antonio, etc.. The official ferry companies only leave from the port of Ibiza and are the following:
Mediterranea Pitiusa: from 30 € i/v same day https://www.mediterraneapitiusa.com/es)
Balearia: from 50 € i/v same day www.balearia.com
Trasmapi: from 48 € i/v same day http://www.trasmapi.com.
Prices ferry Ibiza - Formentera: The price differences are according to the speed and quality of service. There are ferries that take an hour and others less than half an hour. In some you can take your car or motorcycle and in others not. Prices fluctuate depending on the demand and the company. Search and compare because the price difference is noticeable. Some shipping companies offer round trip tickets on the same day from 30 € and with motorcycle rental included from 50 € (one person + round trip ticket on the same day + 50 cc motorcycle), and there are excursion boats that take you and pick you up on the same day from less than 30 € (Aquabus, for example). The best thing to do is to walk along the beach d'en Bossa and Figueretas (closest end to Ibiza) or in the port and take a look at the stalls of the excursion boats and their offers.
Cheap Ibiza - Formentera ferry: The cheapest Ibiza- Formentera ferry was the Aquabus one, from 29,9 € i/v per person if on the same day (2,09 € if you are a resident!).
| Megayachts anchored in front of ses Illetes. © El Playólogo/Maremecum
How to get from the port of La Savina to Ses Illetes:
As soon as you have disembarked at the port of La Savina (gateway to Formentera) you have several options:
How to get to Ses Illetes beach by bus:
The Tourist Bus line L3 connects the port of Formentera (La Savina) with the beach of Illetes every half hour from 9:45 to 14:15 in a comfortable journey that takes only 15 minutes. The price was 8 € per person round trip. The company is Autocares Paya (tel.: 971 323 181).
How to get to Ses Illetes beach by bike:
As soon as you disembark you will see dozens of bikes, scooters and rental cars at the port itself. There are several companies, lots of them! I advise you to compare prices because you will notice the difference. The bikes cost from 4 € per day and the 2.6 km trip can be done comfortably going partly by a greenway along the sea that starts at the bottom of the port, from the area where the fishing boats moor.
How to get to Ses Illetes beach by car:
Renting a car to go to Ses Illetes has the disadvantage that you can be left out, especially if you don't arrive early. Remember the toll... You can rent it from about 20 € per day at the port of La Savina. Search and compare prices because there is a lot of difference.
How to get to Ses Illetes beach by motorcycle:
The motorcycle is perfect for touring an island as small as Formentera, and to get to Ses Illetes as well. From the port of La Savina there are only 4 km to go. Remember that you have to pay toll, that quads are not allowed and that you can be left at the gates with the bike if you do not get up early. They are rented from 11 € per day.
How to get to Ses Illetes beach on foot:
Walking is 2.6 km, but in full sun and with some dusty stretch next to the cars. Walk to the other end of the port (fishing area, E end) and go up the ramp. That track is the Camí de Sa Guía (where the salt mines train used to go). Follow it and you will end up coming across the track where the traffic enters to Ses Illetes. You'll see the toll barrier and the racket when they don't let any more vehicles in. Follow the road and choose the part of Ses Illetes you like best.
| Sa Platgeta Restaurant, in Migjorn beach, where you can eat at more reasonable prices and to the taste of the Spanish tourist. © El Playólogo/Maremecum
How to eat on the beach at mainland prices
yes you can! In Formentera it is difficult to find a place to eat on the beach where you do not pay dearly for the luxury of tourism on this island, the most expensive in Spain and maybe in the whole Mediterranean. But there are a few places. Take note: there is a part of Migjorn beach (on the south coast of the island, the area closest to Cap de Barberia) much more authentic, the most island, the most hippie, the most natural... and the most "cañí"! and the most "cañí"! A portion of the beach where you can afford to eat in its restaurants without paying too much attention to how much things cost. And that is like a miracle in Formentera. If you come to spend a few days at full throttle, you can put up with it (I mean, the "clavazos"), but if you spend like me a few months a year here, you end up paying more attention to what things cost, lest you don't have enough for the ferry back [...] This is where those of us who live in Formentera come from. To eat a paella, a fish or whatever you can get without going out of the window.
| At the northern end of the beach of Ses Illetes are the little beaches known as Punta des Trucadors, where you can usually find a little more tranquility, although you have to walk along the sand to reach them. © El Playólogo/Maremecum
The other paradises of Formentera or how to be alone in the month of August
The little handfuls of sand of Es Carnatge are the best alternative to those days in July and August when Ses Illetes hangs the "no localities" sign. I love these coves. Come on a special day (when I tell you ;-) and you will fall in love for life. Because it is not worth any day. Listen to the winds. Be like the birds. Like the sailors. Do not come when the wind blows strong from N to E, come when there is no one to stop on the beaches of Migjorn. Then you will see how you will hallucinate with the colors that take these waters, with the infinite beauty and tranquility of these small portions of paradise. There are no big sandy beaches, but there is no need for that. Here what you will find (if you find them) are tiny coves, like pocket-sized, corners reserved only for two that arise capriciously from nowhere, with shores that most of the time are made of rock, because they were formed (the mini beaches) by the waves that overcame the reefs and unloaded the sand they carried during the storms. I wouldn't trade them for anything. They are my escape valve, my refuge during the summer months when almost everything is at full capacity.
| While the beaches of ses Illetes, Cala Saona, etc. are saturated on the Tramontana coast of Formentera peace reigns. You only have to walk a little to find your space. © El Playólogo/Maremecum