Unspoiled, sickle-shaped Formentera lies south of Ibiza, and the sea trip there passes an introductory chain of charming islets—one with its own isolated lighthouse—that convert a dream world of idyllic escapism into reality.
It's an example of what Mediterranean islands used to be like, and it's most notable for what isn't there: no airport, no railway system, no cinemas, no high-rises, no historic monuments. Instead, you'll find pure, untrammeled nature—turquoise waters, Caribbean-white beaches, giant fig trees, pine copses, vineyards, and almond and olive groves. The terrain is crisscrossed by dusty tracks bordered by stone walls, where little green lizards dart and play. There is an aura of peace and relaxation hard to encounter anywhere these days. The island is also a particular haven for swimmers, divers, walkers and cyclists.
This pristine setting has been largely saved by the wealthy and the idealistic. Many celebrities have bought summer homes on Formentera, anxious to protect their own, as well as the island's, seclusion. The high cost of living (compared with the rest of Spain) is a fair price to pay if it means preserving the atmosphere of such a natural gem.
Downsides are only in high summer, when peace can be interrupted by mainly young visiting Europeans who swarm noisily across the isle in locally rented Vespas and Lambrettas, and in midwinter, when clouds and storms sometimes disrupt the cozy idyll.