When you say Ibiza to most people, they immediately think of the island’s reputation as the clubbing capital of Europe. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that the tiny island is home to some of the most famous clubs in the world, including Pacha, Amnesia and Manumission. A playground of the rich and famous, including Jade Jagger, Ibiza hosts everything from Radio One’s summer party to international tournaments on the world poker circuit.
But there is much more to the White Island than just music and mayhem; it is also a very spiritual place, full of ancient mysteries and magic. Take a stroll around the tie-dyes and sandals of the Hippy Market Punta Arabi, and you’ll find yourself a long way away from the booming electronic beats of San Antonio.
Sunset bars and Café del Mar franchises are nothing new, and you can find them almost anywhere with a west-facing coast, but Ibiza has the original one, and it shows. This was the birthplace of the worldwide chill-out music movement back in 1980. This was where that laid-back, loved-up feeling first began, and it has to be on everyone’s bucket list so that they can experience the sunset here at least once in their life if not once a year.
On face value, it all looks a little commercial, and the souvenir shop in the car park certainly doesn’t help. The sangria is overpriced and under strength, and what few tables there are, are filled well before the sun starts its spectacular show. But if you arrive early enough, you can still pick a good spot, leaning against the wall or perched on a rock.
There was sand there once, but much of it has washed away now, leaving me feeling more than a little guilty when I look at the glass of Café del Mar sand that I keep on my desk. I only took a little, but it seems that everyone else may have done the same.
As the sun starts to drop and the spectacular show begins, you begin to understand why this place is so special. The ambient music is perfectly choreographed to every color change, and the crowd is awed into reverent silence as the sky turns gold first, then red, then purple in a truly mesmerizing canvas of color.
The silence holds right through until the very last tip of the sun disappears beneath the horizon, then something happens that I have never experienced anywhere else in the world: a round of spontaneous applause breaks out. The gathered disciples of the sunset applaud Mother Nature for a job well done, and you can’t help but join in with a huge beaming smile.
At that point, about half of the crowd will leave and you can’t help but think that they have somehow missed the point; that the glorious kaleidoscope and mesmerizing music have somehow failed to penetrate their souls. With that said, at least you know that those who are left are the true devotees, and you will sit, smiling at each other in chilled contentment for a good while before anyone feels the need to move.
It’s the same sun that sets every day all around the world, but somehow it seems to set more beautifully at Café del Mar than anywhere else. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe the sangria isn’t as weak as you think. Or maybe, just maybe, there really is something magical about this island.