Isla de Espalmador, a slice of heaven between Ibiza and Formentera
Feeling like a pirate or buccaneer is easy in Espalmador (S’Espalmador in Catalan); it’s a three-kilometre-long uninhabited island with idyllic landscapes. When you reach its shores by boat, you’ll find yourself rubbing your eyes to check you aren’t dreaming. Completely unspoilt with no buildings of any kind, the peace and silence of this private spot (that’s open to the public) make a big impact on city-dwellers.
Taking a dip at Playa Alga, the biggest bathing area on the island, or any one of its coves, feels like total luxury. Everything on this protected corner of the Pityusic Island archipelago invites you to unwind and switch off: here it’s still possible to get away from the madding crowd. Sa Guardiola watchtower sits atop the highest part of the island and in the past was used to protect against corsairs. Today it’s a landmark for luxury yachts and sailing boats that pass through the area.
- Espalmador: close to Formentera
- Trips to Espalmador
- Ses Salines Natural Park
- Attractions of Espalmador
- A private and closely protected island
Espalmador: close to Formentera
In the north of Formentera, a strip of sand known as Es Trucadors stretches out towards Ibiza. This virtually untouched peninsula has some amazing beaches: Llevant, Cavall and Illetes. Illetes is famous for its calm waters, white sand and views of enigmatic Espalmador.
The island is less than a hundred metres from the far north of the beach and it’s possible to walk from Illetes to the island along Es Pas des Trucadors. This narrow natural bridge lies sunken beneath the Mediterranean and emerges on days when the weather is fine and the tide very low. Then it’s possible to cross: but this adventure should only be undertaken by experienced people who know the area well.
Despite the seemingly simple route, crossing by foot or swimming is strongly unadvised due to the strong currents here – signs and red flags prohibit the dangerous crossing.
Trips to Espalmador
The best way to reach Espalmador is by using local company Barca Bahía, which runs trips from La Savina port in Formentera. It has several daily departures with a stop at Illetes beach. Another option is to join a catamaran excursion that stops at the island along its route. Or you can hire a private boat or dinghy and stop off at the different coves in the zone.
If you want to visit Espalmador from Ibiza, Aquabus runs boat trips from Figueretas and Playa d’en Bossa. Formentera Explorer also has trips that leave from Playa d’en Bossa and make stops at Espalmador, Illetes and La Savina port.
Ses Salines Natural Park
Espalmador is one of the treasures of Ses Salines Natural Park, a space of great importance thanks to its culture, ecology and landscapes. A Heritage Site and protected as a Natural Park since 2001, Ses Salines covers 3,000 hectares of land and 13,000 hectares of sea, running from the south of Ibiza to the north of Formentera.
Almost all of the tree and plant species that grow on both islands can be found here and two of the most notable species are the Mediterranean pine and juniper. You’ll also find sand dune systems, which are typical to the beaches of northern Ibiza and Espalmador.
The Ibizan part of the natural park belongs to Sant Josep de Sa Talaia and has ancient salt lakes, among other points of interest. The parish church of Sant Francesc is home to Ses Salines Natural Park Interpretation Centre where you can find out all about the area with in-depth information covering the nature reserve’s flora and fauna.
Attractions of Espalmador
Espalmador covers 137 hectares (it’s almost three kilometres long and barely 800 metres wide) and is a pristine spot where it’s still possible to lose yourself and discover peace. Only the boats that sail its waters transporting tourists to and fro will drag you back to reality. And it’s far more than just a treat for the senses: this small oasis in the Pityusic Islands has exceptional biological wealth, and highlights include sea birds such as the Kentish plover, black-winged stilt and common shelduck.
Their habitat lies in the island’s interior, at Bassa de d’Espalmador, a protected area of natural mud that is highly valued by nature-lovers and bird watchers. Mud baths, which once attracted tourists, have now been prohibited by the Commission for the Environment and Land Planning of the Balearic parliament.
The island is dominated by Sa Guardiola tower; one of the oldest in the Balearic Islands, it was built between 1749 and 1750 and sits atop gentle cliffs. A dip in the sea here is an unforgettable delight. The best beach on the island is crescent-shaped Playa de Alga which has turquoise waters and a sand dune landscape. Sa Torreta and Bosch coves are smaller but just as beautiful and are the perfect spot for nudism.
A private and closely protected island
The Balearic Island of Espalmador is one of the few private islands in Spain. In 2018 it passed into the hands of a family from Luxembourg who bought it for 18 million euros. However, its owners are obliged to follow state and regional laws governing the use of the space, which prohibit any kind of construction.
Neither the Regional Government of Formentera nor the Balearic Government were able to bid for the island when it was put on the market due to the high price set by the former owners. The island previously belonged to two brothers, Norman and Rosy Cinnamond, who inherited it from their grandfather Bernard Cinnamond, a British citizen. He bought it for 42,500 pesetas in 1932 from its then owner, Carlos Tur from Ibiza.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get to the island of Espalmadador by boat from Formentera?
Barca Bahía, from the port of La Savina, makes several departures a day, making a brief stop at Illetes beach. Its first trip is at 10.15 a.m. and the last return trip is at 6.45 p.m.
How to get to the island of Espalmadador by boat from Ibiza?
Check the itineraries of Aquabus, which departs from Figueretas and Playa d'en Bossa.