Formentera (Catalan pronunciation: [furmənˈteɾə], Spanish: [formenˈteɾa]) is the smaller and more southerly island of the Pityusic Islandsgroup (comprising Ibiza and Formentera, as well as various small islets), which belongs to the Balearic Islands autonomous community(Spain).
The main island of Formentera is 19 kilometres (12 mi) long and is located about 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea. More specifically Formentera is part of the delimitation of the Balearic Sea which is a northwestern element of the Mediterranean Sea. Its major villages are Sant Francesc Xavier, Sant Ferran de ses Roques, El Pilar de la Mola and La Savina.
Formentera comprises one municipality, also called Formentera, and has a population of 9,962 (as at 1 January 2010). Its land area is 83.24 square kilometres (32.1 sq mi). It is subdivided into several civil parishes (parequios), themselves subdivided into vendas (véndesin Catalan).
North of Formentera is the island of Espalmador (Illa de s’Empalmador in Catalan), which is the second largest island of the municipality, and is itself surrounded by a few minor islets. Espalmador is a tombolo, separated from the main island of Formentera by a shallow sandbar, and during low tide, it is possible for one to wade between the two islands. This area is a popular stopping point for those in yachts heading between Ibiza and Formentera.
Since the 1960s, Formentera has been a popular destination for Hippies. Formentera is renowned across Europe for many pristine white beaches and the fact that nude sunbathing is allowed on most of its beaches. The Canadian writer Patrick Roscoe was born on Formentera.
Although metalled roads allow access to all parts of the island and cars are easily hired in the port, many people choose to rent mopeds or even bicycles due to the flat nature of most of the island and the availability of dedicated cycle tracks in many locations.
The island was formerly reachable only by boat from Ibiza, making it the quieter of the two islands, but in recent years regular passenger service from the Spanish mainland has increased tourism.
Ferry tickets from Ibiza are available in advance, as are transfers from Ibiza airport or port directly to accommodation in Formentera.
Ferries to Formentera operate from their own terminal in Ibiza port, with departures every half hour in high season on large (200+ passenger) fast catamarans. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes with 10 minutes each leaving Ibiza, crossing the sea, and arriving in Formentera past the isthmus to Espalmador.