Schoolchildren wave, boys hoot, strangers want photos and, while eyeballs might roll when the van stalls on a steep slope, the general VDub love more than makes up for the occasional embarrassment. It’s hard to be inconspicuous when you’re driving a psychedelic orange-and-yellow 1970s VW campervan around the sun-soaked lanes of Ibiza.
I’m on the White Isle with my friend Vicky for a campervan break: this summer, classic van hire firm WeDubYou has added Ibiza to the destinations where it rents out its old-school kombis. It’s an option perhaps worth considering, given the extortionate cost of villas and hotels here in peak season.
Going to bed hasn’t been as exciting since I camped in the garden when I was six: we pop up the roof and hunker down before midnight (sheets, sleeping bags and pillows are provided).
Launched in France in 2013 by Brits Tony and Yvette Martin, WeDubYou is already going great guns there in Bergerac, and in Girona, Spain. Ibiza is its first franchise, run by Paul and wife Louise, who sold their bistro business back home to move here, with four vans available on the island, and plans for more. New Zealand is another new option for 2016, with California in the pipeline for next year.
It goes without saying that the vans have names: besides Pucci, which I’m driving, there’s Flirty, covered in cartoon-style flowers, Twister with decor inspired by the ice lolly, and Sadie, a classic in plain white. All have everything holidaymakers might need, from fridge/freezer and gas cooker to SatNavs and Bluetooth speakers. The add-on VIP package brings local goodies and bubbly on arrival, the beach package towels, beach bag, masks and snorkels. The vans all have pop-up roofs, and though two would comfortably sleep four, the other two are more suited to just three people. Extra bodies could always use a tent.
We wake early to the sound of birdsong and drive north for our first yoga session with Lindsay Jay, one of those naturally beautiful, sporty young women you don’t want to have your photo taken with. Tanned, with long golden hair and beaming smile, she relocated to Ibiza two-and-a-half years ago with her husband and launched YogaFit Ibiza in April. She offers campervanners tailored packages, with as many yoga sessions as people want in locations that vary from isolated beaches to hillside watchtowers. “I’m living the dream,” she grins.
Today’s session takes place on the terrace of the Invisa hotel on Es Figueral beach, where Lindsay runs retreats in April and October. It’s a brilliant place to practise yoga, surrounded by sea and sky – so much nicer than a studio. Lindsay’s background was in fitness before she ventured into yoga (she held a Guinness world record for the biggest-ever zumba class). The class is flowing, centring and fun (anyone tried eye yoga?).
But the zen doesn’t stop there – massage is another optional extra and we head into the hotel for an “Awakening” treatment with Italian masseur Iuri. It’s a mix of ancient Ayurvedic techniques combined with Tibetan singing bowls placed on the body, their vibration tingling on the skin, targeting energy pathways. If I don’t emerge spiritually awakened, I’m definitely relaxed and ready for the day.
We meander back to the campsite, checking out Pou des Lleó’s red cliff landscape, hidden beaches and gorgeous green countryside en route. We feel like pseudo hippies in our lurid van but Diego, whom we meet back at camp for a bike tour of the area, is the real deal, with his flares, flowing locks and fringed suede jacket. His hand-built “Harley-Davidson”-style pushbikes are super-comfortable to ride (and he can attach motors to them, if required). We cycle through pretty countryside and hamlets to Santa Eulalia, stopping at places like 100% Ibiza, a Mad Max-style salvage yard that would have been hard to find on our own.
The next day we’re off again, to Camping Cala Bassa on the west coast, about an hour away on easy roads. It’s a small, shady campsite a short walk from a popular sandy beach dominated by slick beach clubs and already crowded on a Saturday in May.
For sunset yoga, Lindsay has chosen a spot on the south-west of the island a picturesque drive away in Cala d’Hort nature reserve, overlooking the tiny island of Es Vedrà, claimed by some to be the third most magnetic place in the world (many scientists say this is not the case) – after the north pole and Bermuda triangle – and steeped in local legend.
She takes us to a natural cave used for mediation. A group of long-haired guys with guitars are sitting around gazing at the view. “You’re from the UK? I love Bournemouth,” drools one. “But the weed, man, it was like smoking grass from the garden.”
We leave them to it and follow Lindsay to a quieter spot far from anyone for a yin session, a more meditative type of yoga with longer-held poses that work on the connective tissues. At one point the sound of singing bowls from a nearby meditation session fills the air. It’s all so Ibiza it feels like it’s been staged for the occasion.
Campervan living doesn’t preclude tapping into the sleeker side of island life: we decide to check out Amante, a stylish beach club on a cliff at Cala Llonga. Morning yoga sessions here, followed by breakfast overlooking the sea, cost €23, but we go for lunch, parking the van next to gleaming Mercs and 4x4s, and feast on fish croquettes and risotto with organic homegrown veg. There are sunbeds to hire (€30 a day) or much in-demand beanbags for lounging with the beautiful people, but we take Lindsay’s advice and drive a short way to Cala Olivera, a pretty little cove with just a few locals enjoying a lazy afternoon.
Watching the sun drop into the sea from Sunset Ashram at Cala Conta is another of the must-dos on our list and we join the crowds chilling on the beach until long after darkness falls. We’ve parked the van a stroll away from the bar, hidden among the dunes, and at the end of the evening slip back and quietly crash for the night.
Wild camping isn’t legal in Ibiza – and there are seven campsites on the island – but if it’s done discreetly, taking care to leave no trace (no awnings or barbecues), it’s an option some will no doubt be tempted by. Part of what is great about having the van is not being tied to one location – and with public transport being sporadic and taxis expensive, having a set of wheels is pretty necessary for those who want to explore.
Our long weekend comes to an end all too quickly – there’s so much more to discover and more outdoor downward dogs to be done. As I drive back to the airport, I feel sad to be leaving Pucci behind and find myself trying to work out how I could carry on campervan living and yoga-ing forever.
• The trip was provided by WeDubYou (wedubyou.com) which has fully equipped classic campers from £595 a week. Yoga packages are tailored to suit, but 10 sessions in a week will cost about £400 for a maximum of four people. Yoga packages are also available in Bergerac this year, run by Amélie Moulinet, Miss Fitness France 2016. Campsite fees (around €20 a night for van and two people) and flights are not included
Asanas and more … five yoga breaks with added extras
Yoga and writing
In a restored 18th-century country house in south-west France, this break taps into yoga’s ability to encourage creative thinking by combining it with mindfulness and writing workshops.
• A week all-inclusive from £965pp (all prices two sharing), flights extra, 2-9 July and 1-8 October, write-it-down.co.uk
Yoga and wild swimming in Anglesey, Wales
These fun three-day retreats at the Plas Cadnant estate in Anglesey mix yoga and meditation with guided walks, wild swims and healthy meals.
• From £355pp, next retreat 23-25 September, thezestlife.co.uk
Yoga and cruising in the Adriatic off Croatia
This one-week trip sails the Adriatic in Croatia on a gulet, with morning and evening yoga on deck (pictured right) and the chance to snorkel, swim, explore and eat healthy food (wine is available).
• £625pp, 1 and 8 October, responsibletravel.com
Yoga and walking in Morocco
These gentle, five-day retreats combine yoga and meditation with daily two- to three-hour walks from your eco-friendly kasbah at Tahanaout, Morocco, in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, and the food (with cake and wine, if you want them) is rustic and good.
• From £849pp, next retreat 7 November, satvada-retreats.co.uk
Yoga and horse riding in Mongolia
Stay in a luxury yurt camp in Mongolia’s remote Gorkhi Terelj national park and do daily Jivamukti yoga, and ride Mongolian-style through wildflower meadows, rivers and forested hills. Food is tasty and vegan.
• From £1,895pp for eight nights (two in Ulan Bator, six in the camp), flights and horse riding extra, 2-10 August, reclaimyourself.co.uk
• queenofretreats.com lists more healthy holidays
Caroline Sylger Jones
Other healthy Ibiza tips …
Take a solar-powered catamaran trip – no engine noise – to beautiful Formentera, exploring rarely visited coves, beaches and snorkelling spots and picnicking on organic produce.
• €100pp for catered eight-hour trip, http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jun/04/labellaverde.org
Salad in the sun
La Paloma, an idyllic restaurant surrounded by citrus trees in San Lorenzo, serves some of the best food on Ibiza – with colourful salads straight from the garden.