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Ibiza Nature

On arriving in Ibiza by air or by sea, the eye of almost any contemporary visitor is certain to be struck by the spectacular landscape. Seen from the air, it is an outcrop of pine-tufted hills cut off by steep cliffs plunging down to the sea or sloping down to end in secluded coves. Just before the plane touches the tarmac, the wetlands of Ses Salines, a strategic ecological reserve, will have come into view.

If arriving by sea, a stretch of pleasing coastline opens up as the bay of the city of Ibiza, dominated by the Renaissance walls defending the old town. Although so many unique and striking elements abound here, the most remarkable thing about Ibiza is how well and naturally they all meld together into a landscape that maintains a delicate balance between human activity and natural surroundings.

Leaving behind the tourist areas of the coast and heading inland, we soon are back in the timeless pueblos of eternal Ibiza, with the church as their nucleus. In the northern part of the island we can visit Es Amunts, an extensive conservation area set aside in the island's least developed part.

There one should make visit to Son Balàfia near Sant Llorenç. Small wonder rationalists were struck by this exemplary case of traditional architecture fitting like a glove into a truly remarkable landscape.

In the south of the island lie the saltpans of Ses Salines. For much of its history, salt gathered from here was a mainstay of the island's economy. Today, their unique ecosystem is protected by international covenant, and helps preserve some of Ibiza's best-known beaches. Provided they respect the fragile ecological equilibrium, visitors are welcome to enjoy a relaxed stroll through an area where large numbers of protected species of birds stop over.

The Sant Josep area is the gateway to Cala d'Hort, one of the loveliest and least-crowded beaches on the entire island and from where you also get a great view of the offshore islet of Es Vedrà, a captivating rocky promontory thrusting out of the sea. For a glimpse of Ibiza's hidden interior, we recommend the so-called route of the rural churches.

On the other hand, the simplest way of discovering which are the best places to get a wonderful view along the coast is to visit the old defense watchtowers that were built in the days of pirates but are today well-signposted. Apart from their architectural and historical interest, these towers are as good a way as any of capturing the essence of the Ibizan coast. Spend a moment gazing out to sea towards those distant lands from where, not all that many centuries ago, came the Barbary pirates whose raids the tower builders hoped to thwart.

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