Formentera is known as the last Mediterranean paradise because it has been able to combine tourism with environmental protection. The struggle of various generations of Formenterans has made possible the conservation of an island whose beaches, transparent waters and climate make it a little jewel.
Formentera can only be reached by boat from Ibiza, but this inaccessibility makes it a peaceful place where you can flee from stress and overcrowding. The island is flat and sandy with magnificent, unspoilt beaches. There are a few places where the land rises to present spectacular cliffs to the sea. It is perfect for cycling, walking, snorkelling and sailing. Its cultural attractions include some megalithic sites, a roman road, some watch-towers (18th century), the 18th century chapel of Sant Francesc Xavier and a small Ethnological museum.
The secret of the existence of a crystalline sea and Formentera's long beaches, which mark it out from the rest of the Mediterranean, is the posidonea prairie that surrounds the island, a natural treatment plant that cleans the water and makes it possible for sand to be deposited on the coast. It is a real underwater jungle, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
Other facts differentiating Formentera are the freedom and its light, which, since the '70s, has made it attractive for artists and artisans, who are nowadays part of the island's differential heritage. Their designs in clothes, accessories, jewellery and their works of art are powerful attractions for Formentera.
Some of the islanders make their living from small-scale traditional fishing. In parts of the island, the soil is good enough to support vines and fruit trees. Several parts of the island are covered in Mediterranean pine trees. Salt marshes (now abandoned) are defining features of parts of the island. However, tourism is the biggest sector of the local economy.
With a population of just over 7000 and no airport, Formentera is much quieter than its neighbor Ibiza. However, in the peak season of July-August, it draws huge numbers of tourists. In peak season, advance booking for hotels is absolutely essential. The hotels on the island are mostly small and independently owned. The majority are in the one- and two-star categories. There are also many small apartment developments. There are no high rise buildings on Formentera. Camping is forbidden on the island.
Outside the peak season when the tourists are high spenders, Formentera has an atmosphere of simplicity and back-to-nature that is the heritage of its past hippie phase. Most people sunbath nude on Formentera. More and more, parts of the island are actively managed as a national park with, for example, board-walks through the sand dunes to enable them to regenerate their vegetation. In addition, areas of the surrounding seas are designated as zones of particular scientific interest in which certain plant and fish species are protected.