Cafe del Mar Heroes: Lluis Güell

If you are a friend of Café del Mar, you may have heard the name of Lluis Güell. Even if you don’t know his name, his dream is the same as yours, his hand has had his way in shaping your life. It is Lluis, maverick Catalan artist, who channeled eroticism, Christian mythos, il nomine Gaudi, et spiritus modernité, pop-art,  and visionary surrealism. Finally, Güell distilled these ideas into a tangible, earthly form.

The result, of course, was the origin of Café del Mar.

To sit inside the cafe is to be enveloped by the mind of a master artist. For regular people like you and I, it can be hard to understand. Lluis Güell didn’t care about money. He didn’t care about fame or fortune. He didn’t care about public opinion or whether he was considered a success. He didn’t even care if people liked him at all. As a result, I am reminded of the words of The Art of Noise referring to Claude Debussy, the French genius who arguably began modern music as we know it.

“He didn’t believe in the Establishment

He didn’t believe in Bourgeois Convention

He didn’t believe in Beethoven or Wagner

He believed…. in Debussy”

If you are reading this at Cafe del Mar right now, consider listening to Debussy. As Debussy understood the impressionism of music, being the subjective aspect of the art, so did Güell. Both artists grasped intuitively what Paul Bourget meant by the words:

“Il faut vivre comme on pense, sans quoi l’on finira par penser comme on a vécu.”

“One must live the way one thinks or end up thinking the way one has lived.”



Beginnings/Memories of Lluis Güell

Güell was born in Banyoles, Girona as the Second World War drew to a close. Franco’s Spain had been kept out of the conflict thanks to huge bribes from the British, and so was relatively unscathed by the destruction of global mechanised conflict- if not unscathed by authoritarianism and the civil war of the 1930s.

It’s hard for me to imagine what it must have been like for Güell. He was born twenty years later and a hundred kilometres north from where the great Gaudi died; in a time that politicised faith and suppressed his Catalan language. 

cafe del mar luis guell

We are left only with his art, memories of those that knew him personally, and a dwindling number of buildings touched by the hand of greatness. We are told that Lluis Güell was sometimes difficult to work with. We are told that he could be impossible to compromise with. Consequently, we are told that he could be hard to be friends with.

Isn’t that the case, with genius? It seems like an affliction as much as a blessing, to be surrounded by us mere mortals, placed on an unrequested pedestal and rarely understood.

Güell believed that in the postmodern era, that the disco had replaced the church as a venue for transcendental ecstatic moments.

It is in this mindset that Lluis shaped his architecture, the reflection of his talent.


Lluis Güell skinsadLluis Güell skinsad bar

The subterranean sexual stalagmites of Club Skinsad in Banyoles, a place that is in design a three-way split between the Moloko Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, Luke Skywalker’s House from Star Wars: A New Hope, and The Chauvet Cave in Southern France, documented by Werner Herzog in his 2010 documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Of course, the effect is astounding; at once a galaxy far away (with distinctly North African decor) a post-modern-futurist drug den, and an ancient religious site, the only record of a people who lived and died over thirty thousand years ago.

es paradis pillar

Lluis Güell es paradis

You might recognise the pillars here if you’re a seasoned clubber (or have been on the island for forty years!). What we are looking at on the right is an aerial shot of Es Paradis, Sant Antoni– before the roof went on. However, the interior that we see is also the work of Güell. Two years of his life went into what remains to many “the most beautiful club in the world”.


Lluis Güell summum

The DJ booth in (now closed) Cala de Bou nightclub Summum was a lectern-cum-angelic cloud-decked pagan altar. Overhead, cavorting cherubims sing hosannah in Güell’s new, hip-shaking religion.

A.G (After Güell)

Perhaps, as a culture, we have become more difficult to impress, less prone to fancy; treating whimsy as merely something to be done ironically. Maybe this is why we live in an age of amorphous blobitecture, backward looking and rigid neo-classical, and functionalist eco-structures. Maybe Lluis Güell could only have existed at the convergent point after the post-hippy depression and during the optimistic naïveté of the mid to late 1970s.

Consequently, it seems impossible that that Café del Mar could be built today. First of all, who would be brave enough to claim that an acid-trip ice cream shop of the high seas could not only be realised in three-dimensional space, but be one of the most beautiful examples of interior design of the century? 

In opposition to our current style since the turn of the millennium, immunecafe del mar interior to cynicism (except when working with it conceptually) Güell achieved what is impossible in the age of Facebook likes and Twitter followers. He changed the lives of millions while remaining virtually anonymous.


Today people can gain huge wealth and status by, for example, playing video games on YouTube.  In our hyper-connected world,  we look for something tangible in the digital.  What would Lluis have made of this? In any case, a deeper connection has been made between us all, through his art. How many likes for this post? How many shares for these fluted pillars and sexualised clouds.

Güell seems anachronistic in that context. His work is so non-digital and so sensorial, that to even try to put the two worlds together seems perverse.  Come to think about it, I think Lluis Güell might have enjoyed that juxtaposition, were he here to see it.

Lluis died on the 13th of December, 2005.

In conclusion, thank you, Lluis Güell. We owe you everything.



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Ibiza Hippy Markets Guide 2017 (And the other Markets too!)

Ibiza Hippy Markets are world famous.

I don’t know about you, but there are few things that are finer than trawling the markets of Ibiza.

Theoretically, you could go to an Ibiza market every day of your stay. All you need is some transport and a wide brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun.

I suppose you could do what I do and just pick up a new one on your first day of browsing. At the start of the season, I pick up a trusty new hat for the summer and hope it lasts. You do tend to get what you pay for with headgear as with all things, but seven euro for a paper hat that lasts three months (if I’m lucky) is fine enough for me!

I digress already, and the blog hasn’t even started. Easy to do when you start thinking about getting lost in the markets. I am of course blessed to be able to take my time over my visits to the Ibiza Hippy Markets, the flea markets, and the farmer’s markets. All have a special place in my heart, for different reasons. Here’s the low down on the markets you can get to on your visit to Ibiza; there is honestly something for everybody.


ibiza hippy market punta arabi

Where is Ibiza Hippy Market Punta Arabi?  Es Cana
When is Ibiza Hippy Market Punta Arabi? Every Wednesday
– April, May & October from 10.00 – 18.00
– June, July & September from 10.00 – 19.00
– August from 10.00 – 20.00

We’ll begin with the big daddy. The world famous Ibiza Hippy Market Punta Arabi. For 44 years the market has been growing, from a small collective of arts and crafts-minded hippies to a powerhouse with over 500 stalls, live music and a multitude of food stands.

With such a huge site come demands beyond that of the average market. The revenues and the accompanying human traffic are massive, which means in August it can become too much for those of us with small children or movement issues. Nevertheless, there is no other market on Ibiza with such a wide variety of products. From leatherwork, hand –crafted jewelry and kitschy chintz to unique fashions. It’s pretty safe to say that the bohemian styles on Ibiza are inimitable, and you’re not likely to find such a large gathering of the signature Ibizan fashion anywhere else.

BEST FOR: Getting lost in the crowds and finding adventure.

Mercadillo Artesanal Dominical Sant Joan de Labritja

Sant jordi ibiza hippy market

Where is the San Joan Market? Main Street, San Joan de Labritja

When is the San Joan Market? Every Sunday from 10.00 – 15.00

Sant Joan is a sleepy village in the North of the Island, untouched by mass market tourism. This is the playground of the O.G hippies from the 60s and 70s, mixing with the agro-tourists, artists, and Ibicencans. You might suspect with this melting pot of residents that Sant Joan has an unusual hippy market. And you’d be right! As with most things in Sant Joan, it’s just a little more classy.

This is an artisans market with a cultured air, selling fresh fruits and vegetables, organic products, fresh bread, homemade olive oil- some of the best on the island- and of course the second-hand goods that are ever present.

An atmosphere of cool class awaits you. Not the brash nouveau riche styling that pretends to class, but the kind of dignity that comes from sincerity.

Handmade organic, wellness and aromatic goods, therapists of Eastern medicine, live music and second-hand stalls jumble along together with the sound of live music. You can walk from one end of Sant Joan to the other in five minutes, but don’t miss out on seeing the church. It is a beautiful example of the 18th Century architecture that features in most churches on the island. Stop in at The Giri Café for lunch and experience the North island culture with some great food.

Music starts at around midday after the morning mass has taken place, and the ambient sounds flow perfectly with the laid back atmosphere. Sant Joan is a million miles away from clubland.

BEST FOR: Stepping back in time.


Las dalias ibiza hippy market

Where is the Ibiza Hippy Market Las Dalias? San Carlos

When is the Ibiza Hippy Market Las Dalias? – Every Saturday, all year round.

April to October from 10.00 to 20.00
October to April from 10.00 to 18.00

Once upon a time, back in 1985, gallery owner Helga Watson and Juanito Marí started the first Las Dalias market with five stalls of handicrafts, clothes and small treasures from the East. Today, 32 years later and with more than 200 stalls, this spirit is maintained: gifts made with great love and care for people who appreciate originality and entrepreneurial spirit.

Probably the widest variety of crafts available anywhere on the island – at least consistently – Las Dalias has grown so famous as to go on tour around Europe during the winter months. The market organization also sponsors a literary prize for Catalan writers, and is an active participant in the promotion and care of Ibiza abroad, cementing their pace in island culture.

As with the other hippy markets, music plays a big part with both live bands and DJs, and a great hippy party ‘Namaste’ every Wednesday throughout the summer months.

Since 2005 Las Dalias Night Market has taken place between 19:00 and midnight on Mondays and Tuesdays, from June. This inspired move enables everybody to get a chance to visit, and if you’re not a fan of crowds this more chilled sunset session is for you. Bring the little ones at any time and the Kids Space performers will entertain them with puppet theatre and games. I see many grateful parents taking a welcome break this way!

In the offseason for you all year las dalias night ibiza hippy marketresidents, Las Dalias arranges an annual Christmas Market, Holy Week (Semana Santa) and a great Easter Market too.

BEST FOR: the perfect evening shopping


San jordi ibiza hippy market

Where is Sant Jordi Market? San Jordi Hipódromo

When is Sant Jordi Market? Saturdays from 08.00 to 15.00

The Rastrillo or flea market at Sant Jordi will have forever a place in my heart. When we first moved to the island last year we lived a 2km hike up the road from the old Hipodrómo. Naturally, one of the first things we did was march back down, melting a little in the April heat, to lose ourselves in the chaos.

One part Bartertown from Mad Max (Beyond Thunderdome, the one with Tina Turner) and one part jumble sale with bongo drummers, Sant Jordi is always a surprise. Whether it’s people clearing their houses, traders with handcrafted clothes or art, even industrial and gardening equipment- there’s something for everyone.

If you’re around towards the end of the season you can find some real bargains. The summer residents sell off the things they won’t take home which means low prices! I picked up a snorkeling mask last year for two euros. As a Yorkshireman (famed for having short arms and deep pockets) that was a real delight.

BEST FOR: Finding the things you never knew you needed or wanted.


cala llonga ibiza hippy market

Where is the Ibiza Hippy Market Cala Llonga? Cala Llonga

When is the Ibiza Hippy Market Cala Llonga? : May to October, Thursdays from 18.00 until Midnight

Cala Llonga is a great destination for a visit at any time, but take my advice and go and enjoy this great sheltered beach on a Thursday. After relaxing on some of the softest sand on the island, watch and wait.

Local artisans will bring their stalls, packed with handmade trinkets and artifacts from right here on Ibiza. There is quite often a stall that sells handcrafted beauty products, including a salt scrub made from Ibizan salt. Cala Llonga Market is one of the smallest ones on the Island, but it still has a great range of items. The Thursday night market is also the time when the locals come to gather to talk.

In addition, live music is also a frequent occurrence.

BEST FOR: Browsing under the stars


forada market ibiza hippy market

Where is the Forada Market? The parking lot opposite Can Tixedo.

When is the Forada Market? Saturdays from 10:00 until 16:00

On the road that winds East, past the vineyards and over the hill, there is a crossroads. North lies the almond groves of Santa Agnes. To the South is Sant Rafel (and Amnesia, of course) and further east is the villages of Santa Gertrudis and Sant Llorenc. However, if you go down to the crossroads on a Saturday, you will find the sweet art café Can Tixedo. This cafe not only has great tapas but also hosts a unique eco-market on the weekend.

The great thing about the Forada Market is that only local environmental and humanitarian groups participate. This means that only natural products are sold, and what a range! Carob chocolate, olive oils, Hierbas, bread and vegan paella casero. There’s even a stall that sells beauty products made from aloe vera and rosemary that grows right here on Ibiza. Organised by the Cooperativa Integral d’Eivissa, the entire concept is based on a philosophy of self-sufficiency to preserve the Ibizan environment for everybody. This makes Forada market great for the soul as well as the belly.

BEST FOR: Boosting your karma points


once upon a time ibiza hippy market

Where is the Once Upon A Time Market? Boutique Hotel Las Salinas

When is the Once Upon A Time Market? Every other Saturday, check here for details

Once upon a time is something a bit different. With a focus on music and the coolest fashions, Once Upon A Time are also collaborating with party merchants Unusual Suspects for some daytime events at Benimussa Park. The theme is strictly handmade, high quality and eclectic, with jewelry, cosmetics, and clothing all boutique in style. And price.

A world away from the near-carnage car-boot of Sant Jordi, you can hobnob here with fashionistas, DJs, promoters… and of course regular folk like me looking for some new threads.

BEST FOR: Getting the look that no-one else has.

ibiza hippy market playa den bossa

Where is Playa D’en Bossa Street Market? Here

When is the Playa D’en Bossa Street Market? Every day from May until September, 18:00 -23:00

A relatively small market that pops up to capitalise on the ready supply of tourists in Playa d’en Bossa, this is sixty or so stalls with the usual range of goodies. Admittedly you won’t find the range of Punta Arabi. Or the class of Sant Joan, or the free-for-all of Sant Jordi for that matter. Even so, if you’re staying in the PDB area it is super convenient.

It’s like an advert to go to a bigger market or an opportunity to pick up something you forgot to buy when traveling further afield.

BEST FOR: Doorstep shopping


ibiza hippy market medieval market ibiza town

Finally, we come to the big smoke. There are a few markets that serve the ‘city’, the most famous being the annual Medieval Festival and Fair. Inside the walls of Dalt Vila on the second weekend in May, the island celebrates her history and place on the World Heritage list. Over a long weekend, medieval costumed people fill the streets, selling suitably themed foods and gifts. The event is great entertainment for everybody.ibiza hippy market ibiza town

Ibiza Town Harbour also has an evening market throughout the summer from 18:00 until past midnight. The street market sells clothes, trinkets, and other goodies. My favourite? the real gem is the Old Market which takes place by the drawbridge to Dalt Vila every day except Sunday. This is the real flavour of the city, with incredible local flowers, vegetables, and fruits- it’s an explosion of colour and aromas.

Have you been to all the Ibiza Hippy Markets? Let us know your favourite in the comments below.






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Best Beaches in Ibiza: Es Canaret


Everybody asks me at Café del Mar, hey, you live here- where are the best beaches? Well, good news, everyone! Today we’re going to look at one of the best beaches I’ve ever found on Ibiza. 

I was reading through some Diario de Ibiza articles the other day, brushing up on my Spanish, when I came across a story that really grabbed my attention. With a little bit of further investigation through Google Maps, I grabbed my camera and my trusty 50cc scooter and headed to the north of the Island on a great adventure. On a quest to visit them all, I search religiously for the best beaches, the secret beaches, and I’m happy to report my findings to you. No charge!

The article I read I will summarise for you here- hopefully, I get the story true enough. According to the writer in Diario, there are three types of man. The Essential Man, who lives according to nature, builds his own house and bothers little with the outside world. Then there is The Insatiable Man, who fuelled by ambition grabs opportunities and forges new paths. Finally, comes The Introspective Man, who reflects and works in metaphor.

Ancient History of One of the Best Beaches of Ibiza

What has this got to do with a secret beach, I hear you cry into your mojito, just tell me how to get there. Well, patience, I’m getting to that. First, we need a history lesson about Es Canaret.

Many moons ago when I was young and you were even younger, there was a farmer by the name of Bartomeu Torres d’en Marçà. He is The Essential Man in the story. In years past he owned the land close to the cove, growing vines, making wine and keeping chickens and rabbits on an islet a couple of metres off the coast. Why risk your animals wandering off when you can keep them on Rabbit Alcatraz? Practicality embodied. 

islet in the cove of Es Canaret
This island: inescapable if you are a chicken

After Bartomeu came a retired World War II army captain, who bore the preposterously archetypal German name of Siegfried Otto. Arriving flush with post-war currency, (he owned the business that printed Deutschmarks back then, and Euros today) Otto began construction with Teutonic efficiency. While Otto lived on the island for thirty years or more, he battled with the local authorities as he demanded sole access to Es Canaret- which was repeatedly denied. The robust Ibicencans also denied Otto his last wish, to be buried on his land, and so for the last twenty years, he lies in the cemetery at Sant Joan.  So ends the tale of The Insatiable Man.

Into modernity… and beyond

Cue the third and final tenant of the land, the famous architect Germán Rodríguez Arias. With a history of minimalist architecture, Arias reshaped the buildings to something more fitting for the cove, as well as installing gardens unlike any on the island. Reflecting and working in metaphor, Arias is the introspective man, standing between his predecessors and linking both. That’s how it goes in Diario, says a lot about the quality of Spanish newspapers- far superior to the English ones. It’s like poetry.

OK- enough of the back story. The beach of  Es Canaret is 60 metres of sand and gravel, overlooked by the white tower of Herr Otto. The waters are crystal blue, some of the most spectacular on the island. The natural protection of the cove ensures that the waters are calm and usually free of jellyfish. Doesn’t that sound like the one of the best beaches ever?

How to get there

From Sant Joan, take the road north to Portinatx for about 2 kilometres. After a very steep curve, you will see the entrance to the Ca sa Vilda Marge farmhouse on the right. In front of this, there is a paved road to the left- this is the road you want.

Follow this road and pass some dirt paths until the tarmac forks two or three kilometres later. Then, take the road on the right (the sign reads ‘Xarraca’) and then turn on the third dirt road on the left.

Still with me?

If you’re on the right path, the road has should have a low stone wall to the left, and forest to the right. As you near the coast you will reach the entrance of a house. There you have to turn right until you reach a parking lot next to a water tank, 200 meters ahead. Park your car or scooter, there is no road from here on.  

best beaches ibiza sendero publico peatonal

Behind the water tank is a path that leads to the cove, it will be marked with wooden signs reading ‘sendero publico peatonal’.  I had to look that one up, but I am reliably informed that this is ‘public footpath.’ Basically, you get to this sign, and you’re nearly there.

Remember to bring water, some snacks and sun lotion; the heat can be prodigious. When you finally arrive, you are greeted by a glorious, secluded and quiet beach even in high season. Es Canaret provides some of the best snorkeling on Ibiza. Even so, the only competition for spaces on the beach will come from other intrepid adventurers (who are kindred spirits and friends on your quest for the best beaches) and those who have simply sailed east from Bennirás and found the cove from the sea.

If you have fortitude and adventure in your heart this summer, go and find Es Canaret. It truly is a wondrous place to spend the day.

Get the directions

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Spending Time, Earning Time. Ibiza Time.

What is time? To answer this, I will begin by using a sophomoric rhetorical device often used by writers to look smarter than we are. That means I’m going to quote from Aristotle.

He said “time is the most unknown of all unknown things”, which in a post-Donald Rumsfeld world has some odd and inappropriate parallels. We perceive time in part due to our cultural conditioning; in short, where you are from dictates how we experience time. It is not the case that we are oblivious to this phenomenon, where our cultures overlap we see the differences.

Because I am a British immigrant to Ibiza, I have my internal British Time which often conflicts with Ibicencan Time or Spanish Time. It’s a relic of the tangible past. My partner definitely considers her Polish Time to be the pinnacle when it comes to an accurate representation of temporal reality. Considering the number of times I have been late, you, dear reader, should agree with her.

Reality Tunnels

For all the times I have been thrown into confusion as to the exact format of a siesta, I could just as easily count apoplexy among my countrymen for our perceived inability to run a functioning rail network. Despite having over 4000 years experience with our sexagesimal timekeeping system, we all run on different clocks.

drums on benirras beach
Some human behaviours are beautifully anachronistic

So, the conclusion we can draw from this comparative experience of time is that time is in the mind- at least in the subjective sense. What is a long time? What is a short time? St. Augustine posed the conundrum in this most noteworthy way:  It cannot be what is past, since that has ceased to be, and what is non-existent cannot presently have any properties, such as being long. But neither can it be what is present, for the present has no duration. 

To borrow a line from The Smiths, how soon is now? 

When you say it’s gonna happen “now”

Well, when exactly do you mean?

See I’ve already waited too long

And all my hope is gone”

Miserable for sure, because Morrissey is from England.

Maybe we should read these words as an exhortation to live in the moment. In another revealing illumination of this writer’s incredibly nerdy music taste, the prog band Tool has this to offer on the subject:

“Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line.

Reaching out to embrace the random.

Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.”

Furthermore, there’s the quintessentially relate-able tale of how the fear of mortality and wasted years nibbles on the nerves, by Pink Floyd.

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”

Time and Space, Space and Time

A sculpture of Time and Space, Ibiza
Time and Space, rendered in stone

So what are we talking about when we talk about time? Is it the mental theological cartwheels of St. Augustine, the Unknown Unknowns of Aristotle? The poetics of miserable English musicians? Lets see what the opposite view from the sciences of the mind can tell us.

Land of the Headshrinkers

One of the founders of modern psychology was William James. He contended that ‘the prototype of all conceived times is the specious present, the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible’ (James (1890). All well and good- but I for one am not immediately sensible at all moments; in fact the opposite, far from it. My mind wanders all over the place to be quite honest, as you have probably gathered from this piece of writing. 

Eckhart Tolle, a contemporary writer, distills much of the esoteric philosophies of religion into a suggestion to be present in the moment. Tolle is talking about being aware in the specious present, much as Gilmour reminds us to pay attention to our finite existence on Earth. As James Maynard Keenan tells us to expand our horizons. While St. Augustine considers the present moment to be timeless and never ending, only the past being measurable and quantifiable.

Café del mar
sometimes time stands still

And the Band Plays On…

I’m writing about time today as I’ve recently (if recently actually exists) been struck by the many-times and many-minds that experience Ibiza. The sun is the same, in a relative way, as Floyd sang. Probably because the relative experiences of all of us are unique. A product of the individual histories from our disparate cultures and the multitude of demands on our time. I wonder about if there is any hope that we can see time the same way at all. Is that even desirable? 

I look around at Café del Mar and notice how time works differently for all of us. The guests experiencing our atmosphere for the first time, I wonder if it’s different, this moment, to what is experienced by my friends who return day after day.

Objectively speaking, we are in the same place at the same time (whatever that actually means). As we know, the experience of time is subjective in the extreme. It may well be the most personally biased sensation we humans possess.

If the earth spins differently for you, can we see things the same?

The sensation that time is the enemy is quantifiable. Studies show that walking speed is directly correlatable to the size of the towns in which we live- a Madridista literally walks faster than a Rojiblanco on their way to the stadium. Maybe you have noticed this yourself, either being annoyed by the slow moving country folk as you try to get where you need to go, or bewildered by the city-dwellers who are surely rushing their lives away. The Madridista and the Azulgrana probably experience the 94th minute of El Clasico quite differently too, depending on the scoreline of the game.

Furthermore, when we are seeing and feeling the same things outside of ourselves, the internal story is subject dependent- the ultimate individuality. At the Café we are lucky, guests and workers alike. We are joined each evening by the resetting of the clock. A group of individuals united by external context, the collaboration between the Sun, a DJ and Ibiza’s shoreline.  As a result I feel those moments when we witness the sunset, that time itself slows to crawl. Not subject to our constructions of sexagesimal time or pressures of appointments.

And then, it is over- the night has begun, and the Café del Mar party begins.

Speaking of which, we have a lot of work to do in real-time. I’ll see you all tonight, or on the next post. In the meantime, let’s try to experience time in a positive way. Yet, pay attention to where we are, what we are doing, and who we are doing things for.

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In Search of the Ibizan Wall Lizard

The Ibizan Wall Lizard. Cool as heck.

Lizards licking an ice cube

Ah, nature! Living on Ibiza has many benefits, but being surrounded by such a beautiful environment is surely in the top one or two. Those of you who have visited Ibiza before or live here year round will know the Wall Lizard well. These little neighbours are surprisingly confident unless startled, and are full of character.

If you don’t like these guys then I don’t know if we can be friends. I mean how cute can you get?!

We might think that humans own Ibiza, with our concrete and noise and clubs, but this is a lizard island.  It’s their backyard. We are relatively new arrivals. 


I make absolutely no apologies for being a total nerd for the Ibizan Wall Lizard. What stars these guys are. The fascinating aspect for me is how the Wall Lizard has adapted to life on Las Pituisas. By most measurements small islands are not good environments for non-aquatic lizards, the food supply can be scarce, and competition high.

Strange adaptations

The fact that these lizards are so numerous is an indication to us that something very peculiar has happened to a species that at one point would have been completely carnivorous.

They learned to eat fruit.

I have discovered through über-scientific trial and error tests in the field (I lie on the beach and throw bits of fruit at lizards) that this species is particularly fond of grapes, but will go for strawberries as well. Apparently these guys will also eat smaller lizards and lizard eggs if given the opportunity, along with their usual diet of ants and insects. While cannibalism is pretty grim, again this is an adaptive response to living on islands. When there’s less prey available, a smaller lizard starts looking pretty good.

Wall Lizards also dine on flowers, nectar and seeds when they can find them, which means that on Ibiza we have lizards that pollinate. Imagine that!

The lizards also help the plants spread out by eating fruits and then depositing the seeds far from the original plant. Isn’t that cool?

Don’t feed the lizards Cheetos though. They’re not good for anyone.

Evolution in Action

It is an evolved strategy of survival that is produced by the millennia long isolation on Ibiza and Formentera that these lizards have experienced. We see the effect of evolution in other ways too. The colours of the Ibiza Wall Lizard are more varied than the trinkets that bear the shape of the reptile at Las Dalias Market.

The Wall Lizard, sort of.
Pay attention class, this is NOT a Wall Lizard.

What will surprise you to learn is that the coloured lizards are geographically segregated. The lizards in the North and South are different colours, as are the East and West. The wall lizards that live on Es Vedra are a deep purple, for example.

On Formentera, the effect is astounding. The Formentera Wall Lizard is brighter and larger than its Ibicencan cousin, and the colours are astonishingly vivid. Separated only by short distances, what we see is dozens of sub-species of lizard scattered across the islands.

On Formentera the lizards show off bright colours.
On Formentera the lizards show off bright colours.

Amazingly, we don’t know exactly why these lizards have adopted such a wide variety of markings. Some theorise that large, bright lizards are broadcasting their prowess to other lizards, to stake claim on territory.  In an evolutionary sense, this works for smaller lizards too.  It would be a bad day indeed to fight a lizard that is much bigger than he looks. Much better for everyone to see from a safe distance who is a competitor, and who is simply going to eat you.

So what is the other lizard on Ibiza?

Through a combination of what I describe as interpretive artistic representation and simple ignorance, the lizard that appears on merchandise and throws and fabric bags and bumper stickers is the wrong lizard.

Not an Ibizan Wall Lizard
Just wrongness in every sense


What we have ended up with is a mish-mash of the Ibizan Wall Lizard and this guy. This is a Moorish Gecko, who’s name should tell you his origin. This guy is the one you might see skittering up your wall at night on his suckered toes, and while he is very cool he lacks personality, which the Wall Lizard has in spades.

Ibizan 'wall lizard' art
This is not a Wall Lizard. It’s a lizard that crawls on walls.

So, this is what is commonly thought of as the symbol of Ibiza. Compared to the other photos I’ve posted here, you can see that there’s been a misinterpretation of the brief. You can see that this silhouette is clearly that of the foreign invader, the Moorish Gecko. Note the splayed feet with rounded toes, compared to the slender claws of the Ibizan Wall Lizard.

Why this has happened is easy to understand. The Ibizan Wall Lizard acquired it’s name because it likes to hide in the nooks and crannies of walls. The Moorish Gecko is more likely to be seen on the walls of your apartment as it hunts for mosquitoes.

A Wall Lizard, despite its name, is actually incapable of climbing vertical, smooth walls like the gecko, and so the confusion has arisen. Probably. I’m not a lizard expert.

Sympathy for the Reptile

I don’t think the Wall Lizards mind too much that we draw them wrong, though. They seem above such petty concerns as that.

There’s something I’d like to finish with that occurs to me when I meet the lizards on my travels. The Wall Lizard is cold blooded, which we think as being inferior to our internally regulated, mammalian temperature.

In some ways for sure.  There’s a lot to be said for being a mammal, we have opposable thumbs and Netflix for a start. There is another perspective to take though. The lizards are far more in tune with their environment than we are. They allow themselves to respond to the world rather than struggling in vain to bend it to their will.

In this way, the Ibiza Wall Lizards are able to tolerate much higher levels of internal heat than we are, absorbing the energy for use in movement. Is it because of this that you never see a stressed Wall Lizard? Lizards might move quickly sometimes, but always with that knowing smile on their faces.

They get the Café del Mar mentality, instinctively.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two ourselves, about ourselves.

Perhaps we could stand to be like the Wall Lizard in our day to day lives. Adaptable to our changing environments, never letting the heat get to us. Understanding that when others misrepresent us or paint us inaccurately, it’s usually not about us at all, it is more likely to be a lack of understanding or a misconception.

Taking a tip from the Wall Lizard, it might be good to remember it’s no big deal, and there’s still plenty of sweet fruits in the world.


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