Direct Qantas flights (17 hours) to Perth begin on March 25Perth has had a makeover with the lavish Elizabeth Quay developmentThere’s a beach, water park,‘indigenous’ art installations, restaurants and barsThe ...
Falling for Ibiza's chic and starry neighbour Formentera - where nudity is rife and Sienna Miller holidays
- Formentera measures 12 miles long and is known for its nudist beaches
- The main hub is Sant Francesc, a sleepy village that wakes up in time for dinner
- The chic Gecko Hotel & Beach Club is a favourite of Sienna Miller
Where do we stand on nudity? I quite like it myself, when traipsing from the bathroom to the bedroom on a balmy night or swimming in a moon-lit sea when no one else is around.
But that’s not the Formentera way. After a superb lunch at Gecko – our Migjorn beach hotel on the island’s southern flank – we head off for a leisurely postprandial but are soon distracted by a couple lying naked in the sand.
The man is all legs akimbo, his female companion spread out as if slumber has taken hold midway through a yoga stretch. They are far from the exception.
Formentera measures 12 miles long and is known for its nudist beaches
But, then, this 12-mile long island (a mere 30-minute ferry ride from Ibiza) has long been one of the let-it-all-hang-out capitals of Europe. And one of the most paradoxical.
It’s where the languid, carefree spirit sits alongside a strict policy to protect the seagrasses; where construction of new buildings is limited; where you’ll find no mega music clubs, not even (unlike its loud neighbour) much in the way of nightlife.
The main hub is Sant Francesc, a sleepy village that wakes up in time for drinks and dinner.
On a Sunday evening, a group of boys is playing football in the square, using the town hall door as one of the goals, with the white-washed fortress-church of Sant Xavier looking on.
The Gecko hotel on Formentera is a favourite of Sienna Miller
There’s not much in the way of culture on Formentera – although the Sunday and Thursday Hippy Market in Molar is a good window to the island’s soul.
The market is more chic than shabby, with whole families coming out to browse and, crucially, to browse at what everyone else is wearing.
Back at Gecko – a favourite of Sienna Miller – it’s all about pared-down luxury.
Rooms are on the small side but most come with balconies and some have plunge pools.
There’s a long, wide pool in the garden on one side of the hotel, a huge lawn with cabanas on the other.
The sea is right there, and at first it’s not especially luminous, but walk through the reeds and it soon clears invitingly.
Where the water famously is compared with that of the Caribbean is along the northern spit, especially Illetes beach.
We hire bicycles for a day (€6/£5 per bike) and pedal over to Illetes, stopping for a coffee in Es Pujols, the nearest thing Formentera has to a resort town.
It’s really one main street that leads down to the sea. Unspoilt, unshowy.
Gecko is all about pared-down luxury, with a long, wide pool in the garden on one side of the hotel and a huge lawn with cabanas on the other
A word of warning about Illetes. Time your arrival with care, ideally before the day trippers arrive from Ibiza or after they have left.
We make the mistake of turning up at midday and its beauty is strangled by the crowd.
We eat our last lunch at a simple Chiringuito right next to the hotel called Kiosko 62, where you perch on stools.
My lamb burger does a brilliant job of offering Formentera up on a plate.
Cooked pink, it arrives without ceremony in a plain white bun with a slice of tomato on the side. Simple, unpretentious and utterly delicious.
Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies to Ibiza from £38 return.
Doubles at Gecko Hotel & Beach Club, Formentera (geckobeachclub.com, 0034 971 328 024) from £207 B&B.