advertisement

Known to the Romans as Portus Magnus and before that a Bronze Age settlement, this thriving town was discovered in the 1950s by foreigners and has remained popular ever since. Tourism here is "megamass." The town today goes by two names -- San Antonio de Portmany for Spanish speakers or Sant Antoni de Portmany for Catalan speakers.

In summer you have as much chance of finding a room here as you would booking a reservation on the last flight to the moon if the earth were on fire. Virtually all the hotels have a direct pipeline to tour-group agencies in northern Europe, and the individual traveler probably won't get the time of day. If you're determined to stay in the area during peak travel season, your best bet is to arrange a package tour.

The resort, with a 14th-century parish church, is built on an attractive bay. Avoid the impossibly overcrowded narrow strip of sand at San Antonio itself. Take a ferry or bus to one of the major beaches, including Cala GraciĆ³, 1.5km (1 mile) to the north, set against a backdrop of pines; or Port des Torrent, 5km (3 miles) southwest. Cala Bassa in the south is also popular. San Antonio overlooks the Isla Conejera, an uninhabited rock island. With its hordes of visitors, San Antonio has an easygoing lifestyle, plus lots of mildly entertaining nightlife. Even if you're staying in Ciudad de Ibiza or Santa Eulalia, you may want to hop over for the day or evening.

Take note: When visiting hooligans have had too much cheap booze, San Antonio can get dangerous. In the earlier part of the evening, however, you may want to patronize one of the bars or open-air terraces around Avinguda Doctor Fleming.

Bottomless or Topless -- It's Not for Prudes -- San Antonio is not for the conservative. It's not unusual to see bottomless women on the beach -- and topless women in dance clubs. Note, however, that even though marijuana is common here, buying and selling it is strictly against the law.