Walking on Formentera
Ibiza’s Little Sister Island is shaped rather like a dumbbell and is just 8.5 kilometres from the nearest point of Ibiza. It is just 19 kilometres long in an east/west direction and 13 kilometres in the longest north/south part. The central region, where the beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters are, is just over 1 kilometre wide. To the east the high ground of La Mola reaches 180 meters above sea level and the road to it snakes through what little pine forest there is on the island. In the south, the starkly beautiful Cap Barberia reaches about 100 metres above sea level. The central part of the island contains the two larger towns of San Francesc (the capital) and San Ferran. It also contains timeless countryside with little old farms, stone walls and even preserved windmills from a bygone era. It is in this area that the majority of the coastal tourism facilities are. Tourism is the main source of income for the island, offering relaxed holidays without the discotheques and sophistication of Ibiza.
For some years now the island has been self-governing and is officially the fourth major Balearic Island. There is still a large dependence upon Ibiza naturally but the island does have its own little hospital, schools and basic infrastructure. The Island’s government is extremely environmentally minded. Great care is taken with the protection of fragile environments such as the sea grass or Posidonia and the sand dunes that are home so many plants and small animals. There are two large lakes or Estanys near the Port, La Savina and these attract a wide variety of migratory water bird life in the seasons. Also nearby are the salt lakes and remains of what was once a thriving salt industry.
There are no connections to the island by air and the only means of reaching it is by ferries from the quayside in the Capital of Ibiza, Eivessa. There is also now a direct ferry connection between Denia, on the mainland and Formentera operated by Balearia. From Ibiza a frequent service is operated throughout the year with the fastest crossing being by twin-hulled high speed boats taking just 30 minutes.
Ferries have to pass through Los Freus which is the name given to the chain of islets which lie between Ibiza and Formentera. The water is just 8m deep and can get quite rough in windy weather causing delays and cancellations occasionally. www.balearia.com and www.trasmapi.com give details of times, costs and so on.
At La Savina there are a variety of hire centres offering car (not popular with the Government), scooter and bicycle hire. The island has a limited bus service which operates throughout the year and details can be found on www.busformentera.com.
The best time for walking on Formentera is between mid October and mid May. At this time tourism is at a low ebb, the climate is very suited to hiking and there are still sufficient facilities available. Bear in mind that Formentera has little natural shade and the summer months would be very difficult to walk in.
There are a couple of hostals available throughout the close season on the island. Our particular favourite is Hostal Illes Pituises at San Ferran close to San Francesc. It offers a friendly and comfortable stay at a reasonable price. Radio taxis are available throughout the island and operate from a central telephone (0034)971322342. You will be picked up from wherever you are on the island.
Formentera offers a rich and varied opportunity for walking whether it is magnificent coastal and cliff top rambling, peaceful countryside, salt lakes or the barren beauty of the Cap Barberia area. There are few signed routes for walking but quite a lot for cycling which is the mode of transport most encouraged.
We have described eight walks on the island, three of which, for convenience, begin and end at the port of arrival La Savina. Between them they offer a very good insight into this fascinating and beautiful island.
We hope you will visit Formentera – you will certainly not be disappointed.