Island Showdown: Ibiza vs. Mallorca-1

Island Showdown: Ibiza vs. Mallorca

Which slice of Spanish heaven will you choose?

So, you’re planning your next European adventure. In between wine tours in Tuscany, chasing sunsets around the Greek islands, and soaking up Barcelona’s famed architecture, it seems there’s only time to squeeze one of Spain’s Balearic islands in to your itinerary. So will it be Ibiza or Mallorca? Our island showdown is guaranteed to steer you toward the  experience you’ll enjoy most.

The Beaches

ibiza_beach_at_sunsetIbiza: Ibiza’s main tourist hub – San Antonio – is home to several small beaches on the bay side that each have something special to offer, close to all the action. At Playa Pinet, you can jibe to the sounds of Jamaica at the famous (and lively) Reggae Reggae beach bar. Nearby Playa Xinxo (also known as Playa Bella) is perfect for families with its calm waters for swimming, water sports, and lifeguards. When it’s time for an afternoon nap, stretch out on a daybed while the gentle bay breezes refresh you. If you’re a traveler who likes your beach a little off the beaten track, Ibiza has a few secluded spots on which to lay your towel. Hop in a car and venture towards the island’s northeast end to find San José’s Es Niu de s’Aguila, a tranquil unspoilt beach with white sands and emerald green water – the ideal spot for a family picnic.
Where to stay in Ibiza

mallorca_beachMallorca: Whether you favor Caribbean-style sands, quiet rocky coves or shorelines with amazing swell, Mother Nature provides a wealth of variety in Mallorca. The most famous beach on the island is El Trenc, a massive stretch of sand that clings to the island’s sunny southern tip. For a slightly less crowded yet just as pretty alternative, the northeast end of the island is home to Port de Pollensa and Port D’Alcudia beaches. The waves are a bit stronger here, making them less ideal for young swimmers but perfect for a morning stroll or late afternoon picnic. And snorkel enthusiasts and diving junkies, we haven’t forgotten about you – Cala Mondrago’s rocky coves make for some of the best underwater experiences around Spain.
Where to stay in Mallorca

The Verdict: If you want to experience a mix beach and city and you love to people-watch, Ibiza takes the cake. But, if you’d prefer quieter beaches where you can relax with a book one day then go on a scuba adventure the next, Mallorca is your best bet.

The Food 

Girl_Cafe_IbizaIbiza: In Ibiza, it’s all about dining out. And no matter what flavors excite your palate, the wide array of top-notch international restaurants to choose from means you’re spoiled for choice. For the best Asian-fusion on the island, we recommend Bambuddha – a longtime favorite that will transport you to the tranquil Balinese countryside with its bamboo rooftops. If you’re more of a laid-back Californian-style dining type, you’ll love The Girl Café. There, you’ll find minimal decor and a seasonal, fresh menu made with local ingredients, and you can even lounge on daybeds in their organic garden. The only thing that will keep you from thinking you’re in an ultra-trendy DTLA joint is the cocktail menu with delectable local cavas, whites and reds; there’s no trace of Napa here.
Where to stay in Ibiza

Mallorca: There’s no mistaking you’re in Spanish territory when you explore the culinary world of Mallorca. You’ll find pork in almost every dish, thanks to the island’s rich farming history. Tapas menus are sure to have sobrasada – a hot minced-pork sausage – and the island’s version of paella is called arros brat (translation: “dirty rice”), which has pork, chicken, and vegetables. SImply_Fosh_InteriorFamily-owned tapas places and small cafés are propped up alongside Michelin-restaurants. For a religious culinary experience, check out Chef Marc Fosh’s Simply Fosh in Palma. Fosh mixes a cool and contemporary setting with down-to-earth island cuisine. Alternatively, for an experience that epitomizes country glamour, go to Es Raco des Teix (also Michelin starred). Enter a rustic castle with a beautiful tree-covered terrace and tuck into Mediterranean delights like a rack of lamb with an olive crust or seabass with wild fennel. Where to stay in Mallorca

The Verdict: If you’re one to create memories filled with the scents and flavors of delicious meals, and you see mealtime as the best method to access an area’s culture and history (Anthony Bourdain style),  Mallorca wins this round. If you like to switch things up every night and rest easy knowing there’s a lunch spot “just like home” around the corner, Ibiza it is.

The Nightlife

ibiza at nightIbiza: The island was made famous for its vibrant nightlife scene, and it’s the place to go in all of Europe when you’re ready to put on your dancing shoes. It’s the birthplace of house music, and massive clubs like Space proclaim to be “the best club in the world.” This type of reputation means only the best DJ’s take to the stage (A Track, Diplo, Skrillex among them). At night, you can dance until dawn at Pacha, where you can reserve a VIP table and rub shoulders with the world’s rich and famous party-goers. After a short rest, you can dance around the pool in your swimsuit at the renowned Ocean Beach Ibiza, where you’ll see everything from fashion shows to acrobatics. Chances are you may even see some familiar faces from the previous evening’s soireé.
Where to stay in Ibiza

Jazz_Club_In_MallorcaMallorca: Though you’re guaranteed to be just as entertained, Mallorca’s nightlife scene as a whole is much more low-key. It too is ruled by quality music, but you’re more likely to stumble upon a live jazz show in a cozy wine-cellar-turned-bar than a big DJ festival on the beach. Each year, the island welcomes the Sa Pobla Jazz Festival in August, with nightly concerts on offer. And on Saturdays in September, the Alcudia Jazz Festival means even more fun live performances. All year-round you can hear blues, funk, reggae and rock in the heart of Palma, at Bluesville Bar.
Where to stay in Mallorca

The Verdict: If you want to let loose around the clock (bachelor/bachelorette party, perhaps?) and see your favorite DJ’s in an unrivaled setting, you should go to Ibiza. If you want to sip your cava and enjoy live music in a much more casual environment, Mallorca awaits!

    

Photographs: The Girl Cafe, Simply Fosh; neon jellyfish, Eivaisala, BreatheFitness, Victor Palez Torres, Luna Marina/istockphoto.com
Colleen McNamara