It is often assumed that Ibiza is nothing if not predictable: its popular image is of an island filled with clubs and crowded beaches, lacking in culture or tranquillity. This image is very far from the truth, and it only takes one visit to the White Isle to realise that it has so much more to offer than overpriced drinks and loose-moralled clubbers.
The towns themselves - of which the main ones are Ibiza Town (Eivissa), San Antonio and Santa Eularia - are where the majority of the nightclubs and hotels are based. Ibiza Town in particular, however, is a major key to much of the island's long and fascinating history. Dalt Vila - Ibiza Old Town - was built as a defensive fortification between the eighth and fourteenth centuries, although the site of the town has been strategically vital to the invaders who have conquered Ibiza over the past few millennia. Nowadays, Dalt Vila is one of the island's most beautiful and cultural artefacts, made all the more impressive by the fact that it is inhabited mainly by Spanish families. The cobbled streets and winding lanes are a far cry indeed from the packed streets of San Antonio's West End.
When it comes to beaches, Ibiza excels. Whether you're looking for a party beach amongst beautiful people - Salines and Platja d'en Bossa - or a family beach with great sand - Cala Llonga and Cala Tarida - or a secluded spot - Cala Conta and the secret beach known as Atlantis - Ibiza has it all on offer. Most of the beaches are sandy, and many are flanked by stunning cliffs on either side. On the north coast in particular, there are some challenging coastal walks to be done.
Of course the island's best-known feature is its nightlife, and, though expensive, it certainly doesn't disappoint. From aircraft-hangar-style clubs such as Privilege to the more intimate and trendy (Pacha) and the downright fabulous (Space), there's something for everyone. Clubs aside, there are numerous cafés, bars and restaurants all over the island, and a night out need not be extravagant or expensive.
As well as being famed for its hedonistic nightlife, Ibiza has a rich spiritual heritage from its Hippie Ibiza visitors in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, Ibiza is notorious for its trance parties and chillout sunsets, its laid-back attitude and hippie markets - the most popular being at Es Cana.
Ibiza's dubious reputation is one propagated by people who have never been there; it takes only one visit to realise that the island is without doubt one of the most varied, exciting and unforgettable experiences of the Mediterranean.
As a small Mediterranean island, ferries and boats are integral to Ibiza's internal and international transport routes. Whether arriving on the island or seeking a novel way to get from one beach to another, ferries can be the most pleasant - if not the most efficient - way to travel.
Ferries from mainland Spain
It is possible to reach Ibiza by ferry from the larger port towns of mainland Spain's east coast, although it is worth remembering that ferry services tend to be more frequent during the summer months. The closest mainland port town is Denia, which offers two crossings per day by hydrofoil (two and a quarter hours to Ibiza Town) and two crossings per day by ferry (four and a half hours to San Antonio). From Barcelona there are on average four ferry crossings per week, lasting around nine hours, and from Valencia there is one hydrofoil crossing every day, lasting three and a quarter hours. From Alicante there is a daily hydrofoil service to San Antonio, lasting approximately three hours.
Ferries from Mallorca
Various companies offer regular ferry and hydrofoil crossings between Mallorca (Palma) and Ibiza. The hydrofoil crossing lasts around two and a half hours, while the ferry takes a little over five hours.
Ibiza to Formentera
This speedy service runs throughout the year, although hours are extended during the high season (from early in the morning until 10pm). There are almost 30 crossings every day in the summer, and around one every hour between 7am and 7pm out of season. Ferries arrive at the Formentera port of La Savina, where it is possible to hire cars and bikes, and the return crossing per person costs about the same as a reasonable restaurant meal.
Boats shuttle regularly between the three large port towns of Ibiza - Ibiza Town, San Antonio and Santa Eularia - and the surrounding beaches. These short trips are well worth trying out, and generally cost no more than the price of a beer. The departure area at Ibiza's port is on Passeig Maritim, and in San Antonio it is at Passeig de ses Fonts. Between midnight and 3am, there is even a boat service between Ibiza Town's Passeig Maritim and the nightclub El Divino, located just across the harbour.
With all ferry journeys to and around Ibiza and Formentera, with the exception of the El Divino boat service, it is advisable to book in advance where possible. Remember to take sun cream with you for all daytime boat trips, as there is often no escape from the sun on board.