Ibiza 2008: A first timers opinion


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Alright guys.

Just not long back from my first time in Ibiza (at aged 31, shocking I know). I thought I’d write a wee review giving my first impressions. I’d imagine most people on this forum are Ibiza veterans, so hopefully my ‘Ibiza virgin’ ramblings might make for interesting reading! So, here we go:

I stayed at the Hotel Hawaii, situated right on the boundary between San Antonio and San Antonio Bay (next to the windmill). Seemed to be quite a few nice hotels in this small area, including the Bellamar and the Bahia (which appeared to be sponsored by Eden), all clustered around a decent supermarket (a god-send for water, beer, wine etc). There’s a really nice beach (not to busy but with brilliant sand), with the usual pedalos and inflatable banana boats etc and a decent sized swimming area.
We’d paid extra for a sea view, and requested a high floor room. Ended up on the top floor, and the view was amazing (probably one of the best I’ve had), looking round the bay towards Conillera. Only regret was that we were on the wrong side of the building to actually see San Antonio, although that side would’ve suffered from lack of sun pretty much all day (we had the sun from about 15:00 until it set).
The room was spotlessly clean, and the maids were brilliant. Even when we’d slept until 14:00 and not left the room until 15:00, it was cleaned on our arrival back (never had this level of service before, even in 5 star places).
Only bad points were the tiny 14-inch TV, and the lack of a fridge. We did hire a coolbox from reception, but that was about as much use as a fart in a hurricane, so we just bought beer as needed from the chiller in the supermarket.
Wouldn’t really like to stay much further round the bay from where we were. Went for a walk one day, and it rapidly lost the Ibiza ‘vibe’ and seemed to be a lot rougher and less ‘classy’. The Hotel Hawaii felt really close to the bars/clubs and the centre of town, but by the time I got round to Kumharas, I felt like I was miles from anywhere!

San Antonio:
Didn’t really know what to expect from San An, but I was pleasantly surprised. Some people may laugh, but I found it a lot classier than I was expecting. The walk round from the hotel to the sunset strip was really nice, and I liked the strip of bars from Bay Bar to The Orange Corner (except maybe Linekars and Bar M). There was also a distinct lack of persistent touts, only really got hassled once. Most of them took ‘no’ as actually meaning no!
Big regret was that we never once seen a decent sunset, but obviously that’s not anyone’s fault. They were always ruined by distant cloud on the horizon. One of the taxi drivers was saying that this was because of the high humidity, and that they were in need of a good thunderstorm to clear the air. I’ll admit the humidity was ridiculous, took about half an hour to get dry after a shower (of which I had about 3 a day)!

Where do I start when it comes to bars! Well, my favourites in San An were probably Bay Bar, Orange Corner, Café Mambo and Kanya.
Bay Bar: This was the closest bar to our hotel and I really liked this place. It was rarely mobbed, but still had enough people to give it an atmosphere. Has a nice chilled-out vibe, and was probably one of the only places (along with Kanya, and the Rock Bar in Ibiza Town) where I’d say I got service with a smile. The cocktails were spot-on and the food was really good, particularly the club-sandwich!
Orange Corner: If you get a table right up front, I thought this was a brilliant place to just sit over a few beers and people watch. Nice eclectic music with a good up-beat vibe, I liked to go here late afternoon before heading back to the hotel. Good food, especially the pizzas, and their milkshakes were excellent (I know that makes me sound like a 5 year old!!).
Café Mambo: The place to go on the Sunset Strip. Brilliant atmosphere pretty much all evening, this is what I thought Café Del Mar would be (which turned out to be a massive anti-climax). Good music, good cocktails, fire shows on the beach, like-minded crowd out for a good time, couldn’t really ask for much more.
Kanya: Maybe not a place to go for the whole night, but a good choice for an evening meal. We ate here twice, and both nights were excellent. The food was brilliant (especially the steak), and the waiters were a good laugh with some brilliant banter! The fire show was really good, especially when sitting close to them, and they also have an excellent cocktail menu. Good music as well, this place really got me into the right mood for going out clubbing.
Only went out in Ibiza Town once, and I’d say the Rock Bar was my favourite (although it seemed to be virtually indistinguishable from the Base Bar next door). Really good atmosphere, especially when the parades started coming around, and our waitress was unbelievably friendly, really chatty with a massive smile!
Now for the bad points:
Café Del Mar: I was expecting something fantastic from this place, but it turned out to be a massive anti-climax. Seemed to lack atmosphere, and died a death about 22:00. Was totally overshadowed by Café Mambo next door.
Coastline: Very similar to Kanya (think it’s owned by the same people), the food and drinks here were excellent. However, it was totally let down by its service. Had to ask for everything at least twice (had to ask for the bill 4 times), which eventually reached ridiculous proportions. Don’t know if they were short staffed or something, but I wouldn’t go back.
Bar M: Another big anti-climax. I’m a big fan of what they’re doing with Ibiza Rocks, but this place seemed to be full of lager-louts in football tops. At least that’s the vibe I got when I walked past anyway! Not really my cup of tea.

Blue Marlin:
This place had been recommended in several guide books and I really liked the looks of it, so we headed down about 15:00 and spent the rest of the day/night there.
Bit of a trek to get to, it really feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Some people might enjoy this, but it just felt a bit too isolated for my liking. Still a really nice place though.
The cocktails were excellent, the bar staff seemed to spend ages making them, and really put a lot of attention into it. It would have seemed rude not to have left a tip! Place had a really good vibe to it, and the music was spot-on for the surroundings, chilled out but still up-beat (if that makes sense!). Cala Jondal isn’t really a beach as such, more like the fall out from a rock quarry, but the Blue Marlin has put down sand for their sunbeds. Not really a place to go swimming either, as the waves were pretty big!
However, it all went a bit wrong at night. Unknown to us, there was a wedding booked (must have been expensive), and so the restaurant was reserved just for them. This wasn’t a disaster though as we ate next door, but for the rest of the night there was dudes in suits and stuck-up females cutting about as if they owned the place. Basically pushing you out the way at the bar, and looking down their noses at you for wearing shorts. Fair enough, they were having a wedding, but they’d only reserved the restaurant, not the entire place! A display of total arrogance to the extreme! As a result of this, the place emptied quite quickly and so we left reasonably early. Couldn’t get a taxi though, so we ended getting a run back to San An off the DJ!!
All in all, a brilliant place to go during the day, and probably at night as well, just make sure there’s not a wedding arranged!

Went to 3 nights: Cream @ Amnesia, Pacha Classics @ Pacha, and Tiesto @ Privilege.
Cream @ Amnesia: Our first big clubbing night of the holiday, this really was a shock to the senses. The largest clubs I’d been in were probably The Arches in Glasgow, and Ministry of Sound in London, but on first impressions, this place blew me away!!
However, in hindsight, it was probably my least favourite night. For a start, PVD never actually turned up, and seeing/hearing him was the reason I booked the ticket. Don’t get me wrong, Sander Van Doorn did an excellent job of keeping the night going, but it really felt like a bit of an anti-climax. It basically felt like an extended warm-up act. We’d also paid a little extra for VIP passes, but trying to find the actual VIP area was a nightmare. We could see it, just couldn’t get to it, and everybody we asked just mumbled something and randomly pointed in the air. We eventually had to hurdle a rope and walk through a closed area to get to it. Eventually found the staircase, but it wasn’t exactly obvious. The VIP area itself was alright, but as usual, there was an ‘ultra’ VIP area, so you still couldn’t really get down to the front. To be honest, it just felt like another part of the club.
This was also where I first encountered club drinks prices. 18 Euros for a Red Bull and vodka, that’s over £15! I don’t mind paying for stuff, but that is absolutely farcical. The raw ingredients for this must have cost about 2 Euros, that’s an 800% profit. That kind of blatant profiteering really gets my back up. People may say that if you don’t like the price, just don’t buy it, but it’s not always as easy as that.
Anyway, in conclusion, an ok night but not brilliant. Good first impressions, but ultimately failed to deliver.
Pacha Classics @ Pacha: This was the only night we actually left San An, and it was really good to get out into a different resort for a change. Really liked Ibiza Town, completely different vibe, although I think San An still edges it for me. As a clubbing experience, I really enjoyed Pacha. The venue itself was very impressive, with terrace upon terrace, and lots of good bits to stand (or sit) before hitting the dancefloor, all of them accessible with just a normal ticket. I really appreciated this, maybe I’m getting old, but I like to have a bit where I can just stand and look over the dancefloor for a while! I thought the music in here was really good, and the stage shows provided a little break every now and again. Although I was told that the venue was at full capacity, there always still seemed to be room to move about, both on the dancefloor and around the rest of the venue. Would probably say that this edges it as being my favourite night of the 3.
Tiesto @ Privilege: I thought I’d experienced sheer size and scale at Amnesia, but this place hit me in the face like a brick! Unbelievable!! And I still don’t think I managed to see even half of it. What can I say about Tiesto, I’ve seen him so many times, and he’s still never let me down. The music in here was excellent, the best of the holiday by far. The warm-up DJ was ok, but it really stepped up a gear when Tiesto came on. Really nice chill-out area as well, and I needed it, it was bloody roasting in the main room! The only thing that stopped this being my favourite night, was that I just couldn’t get anywhere near the main dancefloor, it was just so busy. Fair enough, I ‘did my bit’ somewhere in the wings, and it still had an amazing atmosphere, but I do like to be in the thick of it. So, maybe not my favourite night (just), but probably my favourite ‘experience’ of the holiday.

So, that’s about it. Remember, these are just my opinions, and I realise some people might disagree, but there you go! I’ve put up some photos on Flickr if anyone wants to have a wee look:

Nice review mate,

I was staying in the Osiris at the same time as you which is just over the road!! I agree with your views and it's good to hear them from a first timer!! We were also at Tiesto and I thought it was great and I don't really listen to trance :D

San An is a great place, for all its faults there are other areas which more than make up for it!! Sunset strip being the main one 8) Must check out the Bay Bar next time we go, the chill out area looks the business :)
Saw it's just a normal compact Digi, how do you get those sweet shots in the club - what settings do you put on?

I sometimes get those and sometimes I don't!

Cheers! 8)
Hiya guys

Cheers for the compliments on the photos. I'm quite interested in photography, and always try and get decent photos, so it means a lot to me to get compliments :)

I don't have an overly expensive camera, it's a Sony DSC-W50 (6MP). As mentioned, it's basically a standard compact. I think the reason I get decent photos is that I tend to spend a lot of time getting the photo composition just right. This usually involves a lot of moving about until I'm eventually happy enough to take the photo. Putting a little bit of thought into this really makes a difference. Things like trying to have something in the foreground, middle ground, and distance rather then just having half the photo filled up with sky or plain black! There's a thing called the 'rule of thirds' which is quite a good guide for composition (there's plenty on the web about it).

Also, I very rarely use the flash. This completely destroys dark photos, and is only useful in very limited circumstances. The amount of people I seen trying to take photos of the clubs using auto-flash was comical. All they'll end up with is a big bright shot of the guy in fronts head!

Most of the club photos were taken using 2 settings. The more 'action' ones (all 'Privilege' and 'Pacha' dancefloor) were taken using the standard automatic setting but with the flash turned off. The more 'static' ones ('Pacha' from the balcony, and 'Blue Marlin' night shots) were taken using a low-light long exposure setting, again with no flash. On this setting it's important to rest the camera on something static like a chair or balcony railing, as even a tiny vibration will ruin the photo.

The other hint on taking club photos, is basically just listen to the music! You can usually tell when a smart lighting effect is going to happen. Also, keep the camera to hand so if some lighting effect does happen unexpectedly, you've got a chance of getting it! And also, trial and error. For every good photo I managed to get, there's about 10 that were deleted!!

Hope that helps :D

So yeh, to put the holiday in summary, it really was the best summer holiday I've ever had by an absolute country mile!!

I'm kind of in a weird situation the now. I'm glad I went this year and eventually expeienced it, but I'm also really annoyed that I've waited until I was 31 before doing so! Thing is, I've been into clubbing and dance music for 14 years so I don't actually know why it's taken so long. I feel like a bit of an idiot now to be honest.

I'm definitely going to come back (I'm already missing it big time), but unfortunately I don't know when that'll be. More and more of my friends are getting married and/or having kids and can't really afford holidays with mates, which is a scary situation. A big summer holiday next year is out, as I'm climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2009, so it'd probably have to be a long weekend or something. A week or fortnight in 2010 would be a possibility, but that's bloody ages away and who knows what'll be happening then!

When (not 'if') I come back there's a few thing's I'd like to do. After hearing loads about it, I missed out on the 'Zoo Project', and I'd also like to check out the SE of the island (PDB and Las Salinas). This year I only had one night in Ibiza Town, but next time I'd try and devide my time more equally between east and west. Maybe 3 nights out in Ibiza Town over a week. I'd still stay in San An though, I prefer the 'beach resort' vibe as opposed to the more cosmopolitan vibe of Ibiza Town.

I'd also look at actually coming for a fortnight and having day's off between nights out. In this situation, I'd definitely hire a car, and check out more of the island. There's so much stuff I didn't see.

I know this sounds like I'm full of regrets, but I'm not! I had one of the best weeks of my life. It's just that I'm now so eager to come back but I can't see when that'll actaully happen. Here's hoping it won't be long!
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We were also at Tiesto and I thought it was great and I don't really listen to trance :D

Aye, it really was an excellent night. Certainly one of the best nights I've ever had!

I don't really think about music in genres. Clearly, you have your obvious ones (house, trance, techno, funk etc), but I tend to put music into the following genres:

If I dance to it: Good Music
If I don't dance to it: Bad Music

At the end of the day, that's the only genres you need! However, if you look at the DJ's I like (Tiesto, PVD, Sasha, Nick Warren, Digweed), I'm clearly a total trance-head!! So, Tiesto @ Privilege was always going to be a good choice!!
Great pics and really enjoyed the review... You should try go for longer next time if you can, so you can cover the island as well as more parties ! Zoo is a must do, Cocoon is such fun and DC10 at least once in a lifetime (hoping it finds a way to survive).

You should be able to find some people to go with, married or not - my husband and I are much older than you, with 3 kids, but we love it out there and drag other oldies out as often as possible ! Ibiza is also great for blurring the normal social lines so you end up hanging out with younger, older, different people all the time.

Totally with you on the music "definition" - for me it's all about whether I dance or not !!
Cream @ Amnesia: Our first big clubbing night of the holiday, this really was a shock to the senses. The largest clubs I’d been in were probably The Arches in Glasgow, and Ministry of Sound in London, but on first impressions, this place blew me away!!

Amnesia and the Arches should never be mentioned in the same paragraph! :lol:
Simply no comparison eh? :)
thanks for a great review, i've been to ibiza twice before (1999 and 2002) and have just booked for a fortnight in the s'anfora next year with my wife.

It'll be her first visit, and i was starting to lose faith in the fact that it won't be the same, i've read so much on here and other places that ibiza is changing, and not always for the better. Your review, as a first timer, really made it sound exactly like the ibiza i remember.

We cant wait for next year, 2 weeks from 1st july onwards, were hiring a car for the whole fortnight so we can do the clubbing thing, and also see lots of the island. I've got this big thing about 'having' to visit es vedra, its one of my 99 things to do before i die, i'm really looking forward to it.

8 months, 8 days, 23 hours and 42 mins, not that im counting or anything.

Thanks for the review mate.

glad you had a good time, shame about BM!!:confused:

Aye, it was kind of a shame. We had an absolutely brilliant day there, it's just a pity that stupid wedding happened (no offence to the happy couple, obviously). Probably would have been better going on the Sunday (even the DJ said this when he was running us back to San An). Still, there's always next time!

Next time you should definitely go to SPACE!!! :)

That was in the plan, but unfortunately we never managed to fit it in (like about 10 other things). Next time I'll definitely be exploring the SE of the island, never even got down there once this year. Space, Bora Bora and DC10 are right up the top of the list.

It'll be her first visit, and i was starting to lose faith in the fact that it won't be the same, i've read so much on here and other places that ibiza is changing, and not always for the better. Your review, as a first timer, really made it sound exactly like the ibiza i remember.

Cheers man, glad I could be of service. You've just given me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside!!:)
One of my pals decided to pass on the holiday. Said that Ibiza had died a death, and that it wasn't what it used to be etc. Ironically, he's never even been before, so I don't quite know what he was basing this on!
Anyway, try telling that to the 10,000 happy people jumping about like lunatics in Privilige almost every night. Or the hundreds of people watching the sunset and soaking up the atmosphere on the sunset strip. Or possibly even the dj's like Tiesto, Sven Vath, Roger Sanchez etc who keep coming back and setting up residences. DJ's of that calibre have the world at their feet, but they still play Ibiza every week.
Fair enough, I've never been before, so I don't know what it was like back in the day. But I do know this; that I had a :!::!::!::!:ing brilliant time, and it beats the hell out of anywhere I've ever been before.

Amnesia and the Arches should never be mentioned in the same paragraph! :lol:
Simply no comparison eh? :)

Aye you're right there! Don't get me wrong, the Arches are amazing, especially when they open up the big back arch and you get a night like Colours with Sasha and Digweed, but there's absolutely no comparison with Ibiza. It's completely in a different league!
Just remembered we did the Bay Bar - I think that was the one night from my review that I had no recollection of!!! Finally- after 2 months I have a momentary recall :lol::lol:

Thanks for that nudge!!

Great bar tho.... very very chilled - what the sunset strip was before it became all posh and regimented its settings
Don't worry about waiting til you're 31 to go. I'm 35 now and was one of the younger ones in our group, I think the oldest was 42. Sometimes I wish I was experiencing it for the first time!

Sounds like you had a ball 8)

I was at Cream the same night as you, also in the VIP bit, we went up there near the start of the night and were lucky enough to get a spot right at the front of the balcony directly across from the DJ. With it being so busy as it was I was really glad of it. I was soooooo gutted that PVD didn't show as Sander Van Doorn is a bit too techy for me. I've had much better nights at Cream in the past with different line ups.

That was my 9th visit and I must have been at Tiesto the week before you and it was the best night I've ever had on the island, we got a good spot right near the front and next to a massive fan so didn't experience the heat you talk about.

If you go again and are there on a Tuesday check out Armin Van Buuren's night, Armada. Unfortunately he wasn't playing the week we were there so I gave it a miss this year but it's loads cheaper than Cream, usually better music and not as crowded.

Re your idea about hiring a car, this is one of the best things to do as it gives you the freedom to explore the island and visit the many beaches. Formentera is well worth a visit for the beaches also.
Aye you're right there! Don't get me wrong, the Arches are amazing, especially when they open up the big back arch and you get a night like Colours with Sasha and Digweed, but there's absolutely no comparison with Ibiza. It's completely in a different league!

Definitely- I'm off to there this Friday to see Josh Wink, and next Saturday for Sasha! 8)

But I'd swap both for the Cocoon closing!!! :twisted:
... it's just a pity that stupid wedding happened ...