What can we say about the islets of Es Vedra in Ibiza that has not already been said?
On this page, we will try to go over the legends and superstitions that surround these islands. Our perspective is that of a boat rental company en Ibiza. We will discuss these spectacular islands in the southwest corner of Ibiza from this point of view.
Es Vedra and Es Vedranell, a milestone in almost all boat trips in Ibiza.
If you rent a boat in Ibiza for more than two or three days in a row, it’s almost sure that you will sail by the islands of Es Vedra and Es Vedranell. They are included in all itineraries.
In the case that it isn’t explicitly included in the journey, there will still be a fair chance that you will pass by these peculiar islands since they are situated at one of the busiest navigation routes that links the port of San Antonio with the port of Ibiza and the southern beaches of Ibiza, and Formentera.
The majority of all charter companies are based at the port of Sant Antonio. One important reason for this is the shortage of moorings in the port of Ibiza town. Scarcity has driven the prices up in such a way that only the megayachts are able to afford the dockage (power is money, money is power). So it’s very common that if you rent a boat for a week, Sant Antonio will be the starting and finishing point of your tour.
On any given Saturday, you can see a lot of boats leaving the port of Sant Antonio. Saturday is the start of the week for customers who have rented their vessels for the full week. Almost all of them will sail South through the channel towards Es Vedra and beyond to the island of Formentera, one of the most requested summer destinations.
A stunning island that stands out even more than Ibiza
What catches your attention sailing past Es Vedra is its perpendicular walls that rise up toward the sky. They reach a height of 400 metres measured from the water level. These steep walls are are only 80 metres lower than the highest point of Ibiza island, which is La Atalaya peak, located in the municipality of San Jose, southwest of the island.
Anchor at Es Vedra
These majestic rocks continue below the water’s surface, transforming these vertical walls into underwater cliffs. To reach the foot of this sea mountain, you would need to dive 100 metres deep. Truly colossal.
It is virtually impossible to anchor around the islands, but sometimes we go into the little cove inside Es Vedranell, so our customers can swim in this small sheltered bay.
There are only a few places, very close to the edge of Es Vedra, which reach depths between 20 and 25 metres. On a totally calm day, when there is not even a bit of wind, we can try anchoring. We will keep an eye on our anchor because when you drop the anchor on rocks, it can get stuck easily.
The dangers of Es Vedra
The peculiar topography of these islands create something that is called the Venturi effect. This effect occurs when a volume of water needs to pass through a channel or a narrow surface. The islands of Es Vedra and Es Vedranell create such a narrow pathway, and there is another one created between Es Vedranell and Ibiza. When a volume of water meets an obstruction, like an Island, a remarkable thing happens. The water will start flowing faster through the constricted region. This can be explained because the volume flow rate has to be the same everywhere. The volume flow rate equals the volume of water per time, so there is a big volume of water flowing toward the channel created by the Islands. When the volume of water gets to the obstruction it will speed up because it needs to move the same amount of water in the same amount of time. There is more water coming behind it so it can’t stop. So the smaller the opening of the water, the faster the water will flow.
If you are not aware of this effect, there is a big chance that you will get an unpleasant surprise. It is very common to sail on a calm day at a speed of only 2 or 3 knots. This can rapidly change when we approach the passage speeding up to 20 knots.
Another game changer is the wind. When we get to the passage, the wind will start to cool down and it speeds up. This also increases our speed. In the summer, the most prevailing wind is the wind from the east called the Lavant (Eastern winds). This wind changes direction once reaching the Cape Llentrisca area. It turns from east to south and it starts increasing its intensity. When sailing back to San Antonio, we must pay attention to these atmospheric changes so that we can prepare the ship to sail with winds up to 25 knots, which can be very uncomfortable and tricky.
A few years ago, we rescued a person who had fallen from the cliffs in the vicinity of these islands.
The currents of Es Vedra
It is very common to encounter strong currents when navigating between islands. We have already explained the reasons for the increase in speed of both currents and wind. The higher speed in the water flow creates stronger currents.
Let’s explain how you can detect whether you are sailing up or down current. You can compare the speed provided by the vessel equipment and the real speed given by the GPS. If the GPS speed is greater than the speed given by the on board equipment, then we’re navigating down current and vice versa.
Legends of Es Vedra
There are many legends about the island of Es Vedra. In my opinion, all these myths come from Carmelite monk Francis Palau y Quer. He went into politics and ended up being exiled on the island of Es Vedra.
He must have had a rough time living on the Island, being exposed to the elements with no shelter. It’s probable that he had some resources because it would have been very hard to survive otherwise. He lived on Es Vedra for several years. One of the things that he did while living there, built a large wooden cross on top of the Island. It remained there for several decades, but it’s no longer there.
He is mostly known for his visions that created a lot of the legends that surround Es Vedra. He started to have visions that were probably caused by malnutrition. They mostly occurred at night. His memoirs speak of mysterious lights rising from the bottom of the sea. He interpreted these visions as godly messages.
Later these nautical legends of deep sea lights transformed into stories of UFOs, Atlantis, magnetic fluctuations and even speculations of a Bermuda Triangle in the Mediterranean sea.
Es Vedra today
Call me an unbeliever, but I sail by the channel Es Vedra twice a week, and I’ve never noticed anything strange or paranormal. During summer, there are many clients that want to go on a second day boat trip with us. Most of them have visited the best beaches that are located around San Antonio so we like to show them Formentera. In order to arrive on time to Salinas beach, I frequently spend the night at Cala D’ Hort which is in front of these magnificent islands.
On our way back from Formentera to our home port in San Antonio, we also spend a night near these islands. We usually reach Cape Llentrisca situated at the entrance of the canal just before nightfall. From this spot, you can witness indescribable sunsets, but so far no other night visions have come to me.
I must admit that there is no phone signal or TV reception in the channel, or surrounding area, and sometimes the bleating of goats that roam the island gives me the chills. Other than that, the compass and the GPS work perfectly and the only lights I have seen are those of the nearby restaurants at Cala D’ hort.
The natural park of Es Vedra and Es Vedranell and islets west fall under the protection of the natural reserve of the Balearic government since 2002. Therefore, due to the protection of the natural park, we can sail as close as we want to these islands if we dare on calm days, but we can not go on land. In this way, the natural environment is protected from all the people who want to have a closer look at this peculiar island.
If you really want to set foot on the island, you need to ask the Balearic government for special permission. There are other islands in Ibiza, such as the famous island of Conejera, that are also protected natural reserves with limited access.
By Laura Soteras.