“FLEXIBILITY of the mind & body…”

‘Flexibility’. Since we started out on the Around The Island In 10 Walks series of weekly hikes, it has become a little game of mine to try to gage how challenging the route ahead will be based on Walking Ibiza founder Toby Clarke’s ‘word of the day’. Following after ‘adventure’, ‘trust’ and ‘acceptance’ (acceptance of a solid 30km trek on Stage 3, that is), this week’s mantra seemed to promise an easier experience.

Indeed, after scaling mountainous heights of up to 400 metres the previous weekend, Stage 4 turned out to be – as Toby described it – ‘a walk in the park’ in comparison. But despite a welcome lack of steep climbs, our walk from Cala Comte to Cala Salada packed no less of a punch in the pinch-me-moments stakes. Stunning views, dazzling waters, dramatic cliff formations and adrenalin-pumping rock climbing – our adventure continued true to form!

For the first time in four Saturdays, the weather was living up to the time of year and we set off from a foggy, windy Cala Comte. The world-famous turquoise waters next to us were in turmoil as we worked our way along this iconic part of the sunset coast. A drizzling of rain added to the moody ambience of the morning but our group remained undeterred, happily catching up with our fellow walkers of previous weeks.

Once again, there were many familiar faces amongst the hikers – but that does not mean the Walking Ibiza treks get clique-y, far from! New participants are welcomed with open arms, making the weekly excursions a great way to make new friends. Charlotte, from Belgium, was one of them.

As we meandered towards Calla Bassa, she told me, “I love walking because it’s a great way to get close to yourself; to relax and to keep fit. It’s the perfect way to discover new things and explore the hidden places you think you can only reach by boat – and then you realise you can actually walk to them! It’s a nice way to make new connections on the island, too!”

After a gentle start, we reached a hidden cove and the first climb of the day. The azure waters were set off against a cloudy grey sky, but at least it had stopped raining – just as well, as we had some slick rockface to navigate! We passed a deserted but beautiful Cala Bassa, and soon after – shrouded by a smattering of fog – the unmistakeable outline of San Antonio’s Sunset Strip and harbour appeared on the horizon.

Before reaching town – the first sight of ‘civilisation’ after four days of walking on the normal schedule of the Around The Island challenge, as Toby informed us – we stopped at an abandoned stone quarry similar to the famous Atlantis. Although much smaller than its better-known sibling, it made for a fascinating sight and we were lucky to have island expert and Walking Ibiza guide Simon with us, who explained why this particular stone was used to build the historic Dalt Vila.

With lunchtime approaching, Toby knew he had little chance of containing us coffee addicts surrounded by the temptations of ‘the big city’, and let us loose on a generous 1.5 hours break to find our preferred lunch spot in San Antonio. With perfect timing, the skies cleared up and the sun came out. We strolled along the bustling marina and soaked up the sunshine over coffee and a few cheeky beers. Winter weekends in Ibiza – they are just glorious!

Alas, the best was yet to come! Having successfully rounded up the group, Toby led us out of town past the beautiful Cala Gracio and – an Ibiza lover’s favourite – Cala Gracioneta. The colour of the water was simply incredibly, a bright and crystal-clear turquoise. But as it was still fairly windy, we resisted a swim stop and continued our way up the coast towards towards Punta Galera.

Dubbed the ‘head of the crocodile’ by some locals, the striking rock formation makes for one of the island’s most impressive views as it reaches out into the sea like a sleeping reptile. We were delighted when Toby revealed that we could actually walk out onto the rock platform. “I feel so free,” laughed Charlotte as we reached the end of the sleeping crocodile, and threw her arms into the air.

By now we were not far from Cala Salada, but Toby still had a surprise up his sleeve! After climbing through otherworldly shapes of golden sandstone that made us feel like we were on another planet, we eventually reached what looked like a bohemian shrine at first glance. Flowers, hand-written signs with thought-provoking messages, offerings of fruit and – of course – vino tinto had us curiously inspecting the site. All of a sudden, a man who introduced himself as Alex approached us: a free spirit who made this impressive arrangement of rocks (and a tiny cave in the side of the cliff) his island home.

As he already knew Toby from previous walks, he happily answered our questions and shared some of his musings on life and the universe. ‘Only in Ibiza,’ I smiled to myself, still trying to work out the logistic of Alex’s unconventional life in my head as we walked on.

Cala Salada was the final stop, and we descended onto this well-known stretch of sand with glee. Some of us jumped straight into the sea to cool off after a good eight hours of walking, while others went to investigate whether the local bar might be open. It was not, so we settled for good stretch led by yoga teacher and avid Around The Island walker Saskia instead.

After four weeks of walking together, it felt surprisingly natural as our stretching circle all of a sudden turned into a ‘sharing circle’. Toby invited us to – one by one – to share our thoughts on the theme of the day (‘flexibility’, remember?) and the walk we had just completed.

Ricardo, another regular in our group who has signed up for all ten stages of the Around The Island series, put it beautifully when he said, ‘2020 has been such a challenging year, it is important to keep flexible not only in our bodies, but also in our minds and hearts’. Talk about a tough act to follow! Except for Charlotte, who spontaneously burst out ‘I loved it, it was perfect!’ with such enthusiasm and sincerity that it was truly heart-warming.

Having finally tracked down some well-deserved finishing line drinks, Toby began to ponder his ‘word of the day’ for next week. “I’m thinking ‘epic’,” he mused. Hmmm… on a scale from 1 to legs-on-fire, what level of challenging might that translate to, I immediately wondered. Will YOU join us to find out?

If you want to join the next part of our ‘Around The Island in 10 Walks’ adventure, you better hurry because spaces are going fast! Are you up to the challenge? Book your spot here!

Written by Olivia Ebeling