Each week, we spotlight a dream vacation recommended by some of the industry's top travel writers. This week's pick is Ibiza.
Most visitors come to Ibiza with the aim of getting wild at its world-famous bars and nightclubs, said Will Hide at the Financial Times. But I made my first trip to the Balearic island with a more peaceful pursuit in mind: sea swimming, "something I've been doing to relax and get fit for more than a decade." I wasn't planning "a gentle splash in the breaking waves before resuming tanning activities back on shore." Instead I'd be joining a tour of the Spanish isle's relatively underdeveloped northern coast, led by SwimTrek, which specializes in long-distance group swimming trips around the world. We'd swim about 2 miles every morning and afternoon, "heading out to sea, then along the cliff-lined coast before returning into a cove farther along."
Our first outing began with a drive through "sweet-scented woods full of chirping cicadas" to the bay at Cala de Sant Vicent. Families played volleyball on the golden sand as we strode into the 79-degree water, which is kept crystal clear by the filtering properties of meadows of Posidonia oceanica, a sea grass that thrives around Ibiza's north coast. "Immediately, the usual calming, meditative feeling swept over me as I fell into a rhythmic front crawl, staring down at plump black-and-white fish who eyed me as I invaded their world." Another day, we dipped into the "inky-blue waters" of the cove at Caló de Porcs. In the middle of the bay, I asked our Italian guide, Alessandro Mancini, if he ever panicked while swimming alone. "No," he immediately replied. "It's very calming. It's my place to think. Or to not think."
Our final day brought the longest swim, about 2½ miles, from the islet of Illa Murada to the cove at Portixol. A sailing boat dropped us at our jump-off spot, under towering cliffs. "Here the water was about 160 feet deep, but still warm." The abyssal darkness beneath me was disconcerting: "There was nothing to see in the intense blue except eerie stalactites of bright light." I slowly regained a sense of normality by focusing on the bright pink swim cap of my guide and the land to my right. By the end of our two-hour swim, "I couldn't remember a time recently when I'd felt more calm."