Well-known party paradise and haven of hippie chic hedonism, the beautiful Spanish island of Ibiza is often dismissed as a non child-friendly destination. Well, all the better for those in the know, because beyond the super club scene, there is much to discover on this delightful Spanish island. With its spellbinding coast, casual beach eateries and laidback, inclusive vibe, it’s the perfect spot for families to relax in style. Plus if the bars are calling, there’s plenty of recommended babysitters on hand who can look after the little ones while you have a glam night out.
Our local Ibiza expert is Zoie Kingsbery Coe, the founder of Kid & Coe, a new travel website offering stylish family-friendly accommodation around the world. She lives in New York, Ibiza and London with her husband and two young children.
What do you enjoy most about Ibiza as a place to spend time with children?
I love that’s there a real freedom and spontaneity for children here. Your child is running nude and sandy on the beach, eating far too many ice creams and talking to kids who are Dutch, Spanish, English, Italian and they all understand each other just fine. It’s very multicultural and the kids get to experience that too.
What are your top spots in Ibiza to take your little ones?
- Talamanca Beach, because it’s very gentle, with shallow water, no surf and there’s an amazing pizza restaurant right on the beach that does Nutella pizzas.
- The water ferry from the Marina Botafoch to the old town, which lets you off in front of the Pacha store and the old Dalt Villa. The kids love it – anything to do with transport! – and it’s a way to see the island from the water. You also get to peer in at all these mega yachts, which is fun. It’s a rickety old water taxi and costs a few euro.
- There’s a sand creche that’s part of the El Chiringuito restaurant at Es Cavallet beach where they do face painting, have toys and a childminder. There’s also a few casual little shops right outside where I always pick up some goodies.
- The Aquarium Cap Blanc in San Antonio is a great way to escape the heat with the kids. Sometimes you just want something dark and cool! San Antonio is slightly cheesy and overwhelmingly popular with tourists, but it can be a fun alternative to walking along the promenade and play in the park and playground there, and then watch the sunset.
- There’s a fun tourist train that goes around the island from San Antonio to Santa Inés. It has an entertaining driver who speaks in Dutch, English and Spanish and he drives around the island so you can see some of the beautiful countryside. So peaceful.
- Everybody goes to Agua Mar Water Park behind Space nightclub, but there’s also a little one right on the beach in San Miguel called Balsanat Water Park, where you can buy a day pass for around €10. It is has shallow pools and a monkey that pours water on the kids’ heads – they love it!
Do you have a perfect place to stay that you’d recommend to visiting friends and their children?
Keep an eye on the Kid & Coe website because we’ve got Ibiza properties coming this spring. A lot of the properties in Ibiza have sharp drops so those type of locations I would want to avoid. Many can be quite remote and very difficult to find! Most villas have swimming pools, but I haven’t found many that have pool gates, so with small children I would err on the side of caution and choose a villa with the pool farther away from the house. We rented villas for years in Ibiza, but we also love an apartment in the Marina or Santa Gertrudis. It’s sometimes easier to rent an apartment that’s really well located than a villa, as beautiful as they may be.
Could you recommend your top places to eat with little ones in Ibiza?
Everywhere works with kids in Ibiza – that’s the beauty of it! Most are family run and many are close to the beach, so the kids are entertained.
I’d steer well clear of fancy restaurants in Ibiza. It’s just not that kind of vibe. A quirk of Ibiza is that most of the bars sell delicious rotisserie chicken inside, so we’ll often go to the local bar, sit on the terrace, get a chicken, chips and a Caña beer and have a perfect night!
Es Torrent right on the beach at Porroig, on the road from Sant Josep to Eivissais, is one of our absolute favourite restaurants for visiting with kids. We also love Fish Shack, though its better for older kids as it’s high up on rocks and kids get to peel the barnacles off the rocks and jump off them into the sea. It’s off Talamanca Beach and they serve the world’s best lamb chops and potatoes. They tear it down in the winter and rebuild it every season. It’s an amazing place.
I also love the village of Santa Gertrudis in the centre of Ibiza, where there is a variety of restaurants around a charming pedestrianised square. There’s a homemade icecream shop and a playground all right there. We like to eat at the tapas joint Destinos II.
Cami de Balafia at Carretera San Joan de Labritja, is pretty special too – the world’s most garlicy dip, chips, tomato salad and perfectly grilled meat.
Any particular Spanish foods that are a must-try for kids?
Paella! They can pick out the things that they don’t like and the rice is a fun color. The thing about Ibizan food is that it’s simple; no fancy sauces, just fresh lemon, boiled potatoes, grilled meat. Spanish tortillas – a sort of potato omelette – are also good.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found about life with children in Ibiza?
How wonderfully great it is for kids! I’ve been there every summer for the last 15 summers and when the kids came along, things changed a lot. Since my son was born – he’s six now – he’s been every summer too, and it’s fantastically varied. It’s for party people, nature people, foodies, posh yacht people, hippies…Ibiza is so multi-faceted.
It’s a different island from what it was – the roads are improved and they’re paving the way to make it more like San Tropez and Mykonos. But there’s a special magic about Ibiza that can’t be changed.
What would you recommend travellers to Ibiza to bring – and leave behind at home – when travelling there with children?
A lot of toys are very expensive there and so is sunscreen, so I would bring them. It’s an island so there’s a premium to pay on certain things. But you don’t need a lot while you’re there. I pack two weeks of clothing for my kids while we’re there all summer – you just wear the same clothes. Crocs are good for kids because the sand gets hot underfoot.
What’s the best way to get around the island with children?
A car. You really need a car, unless you stay in the Marina. There’s so much to explore and you can rent cars with child seats on the island.
What would you suggest families avoid?
Definitely the hippy market. I find it touristy and overpriced.
What are your favourite shops for kids?
All of the nicer beaches with restaurants, such as at Es Torrent (see above) have amazing shacks that sell pretty hippy dresses for kids and lots of white lace frocks.
And finally, what does your perfect date-night consist of in Ibiza?
My great friend runs an amazing babysitting service called Babe Watch, so I would recommend that because every night’s a date night in Ibiza. And Serena, another friend, runs Deliciously Sorted Concierge so she can sort out a fancy restaurant experience or tickets to a club – anything you could wish for.