The small island of Formentera measures just 83 square kilometres and can only be reached by sea. It has managed to preserve its natural environment, which is closely linked to the Mediterranean sea and hence includes a number of exceptionally beautiful beaches. In the summer, Formentera attracts thousands of visitors who come here to enjoy its truly unique setting.
Formentera is in the southern Balearic Islands and lies just 2 nautical miles from Ibiza. Boats embark from Formentera to Ibiza Port almost every half hour and take just 30 minutes to reach their destination. Vessels making the crossing to Formentera arrive at Savina, the entry port to the island and the first town encountered by visitors. Though the population is scattered across the entire island, there are a number of small towns such as Sant Francesc Xavier, the most important urban settlement where a large number of the shops and services on Formentera are concentrated. Other towns include Sant Ferran, home to the famous Fonda Pepe, the legendary bar where the hippies living on Formentera gathered in the 1960s. The town furthest from Savina is La Mola, the very picture of rural Formentera. An interesting market is held there twice a week. Most of the tourist accommodation on the island is in Es Pujols and stretches along the beach of the same name, where a large number of bars, restaurants, shops and a few nightlife venues are also located.
Formentera has 20 kilometres of extremely beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters. Almost all these beaches have been preserved in their natural state or have just a few buildings along them. To the north are Llevant Beach and Illetes Beach, the most popular of all, where most of the water sports activities are available, and Es Pujols Beach. Cala Saona is a lovely cove on the west coast full of restaurants and beach bars. To the south lies Migjorn Beach, which stretches for 5 kilometres around the narrow inlet of sand and dunes that leads to La Mola Cape, the easternmost and highest point on the island, which is situated 20 kilometres from Savina Port. This rugged spot is watched over from above by a lighthouse and has a charm all of its own.
In the far south of Formentera is Barbaria Cape and its lighthouse, a solitary spot that makes an excellent place for contemplating the immensity of the sea and sunsets that are a veritable spectacle of light and colour. Another interesting place to visit is S’Estany des Peix, a lagoon with a narrow opening that allows small boats to enter and which is home to a large population of birds. Punta de Sa Pedrera was once a source of Marés stone, a kind of sandstone used in construction. The formations in the quarry today are extremely attractive due to the combined work of man and the erosion caused by the sea.
The small island of Espalmador lies just 150 metres offshore to the north of Formentera, a stretch that can be swum, weather permitting, or even crossed on foot as the water is very shallow. It is also possible to take a boat ride from Savina Port, stopping briefly on the way at Illetes Beach. Espalmador covers three square kilometres and has a beach that also serves as a natural shelter for boats. The old watchtower can also be visited. One of its attractions is the bath in sulphurous mud which is supposed to be good for the skin.
The climate on Formentera is generally mild with high temperatures in the summer. There is little rainfall, which, combined with the poor quality of the soil, makes farming difficult, even though it was formerly the basis of the island’s economy. To learn about life on Formentera in times gone by, it is well worth visiting the Ethnology Museum, which provides insights into the rural and maritime life of an island that has managed to preserve its ancient customs down the generations.
For long periods throughout its history, Formentera was unpopulated though there are remains from prehistoric times, such as Ca Na Costa, and others dating from the period of Roman rule contrasting with the population of more than 7,000 people living on the island today thanks to the economic prosperity brought by tourism.