Cheering low-flying aircraft as they cruised overhead became a bit of a tradition at clubs along Playa d’en Bossa, Ibiza’s longest and liveliest beach. Whoops of joy welcomed a new influx of clubbers and applauded the fact someone somewhere in the venue had probably missed their flight home.

But today, only gulls spread their wings against the deep blue sky. Standing alone on an empty beach, I’m an audience of one.

Spain, including the Balearic Islands, experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, and Ibiza’s famous club scene has been put on hold for this year. Mass gatherings are forbidden, dancing banned, and bars must close by 10pm.

It paints a very different picture of the Ibiza familiar to most.

Foreigners, though, are starting to return.

Borders are open to visitors from the UK, and inclusion in the government’s safe list (meaning no quarantine restrictions in either direction) has given a green light for tourism to the island.

Several weeks ago, the idea of a summer holiday in Europe felt like a fantasy, but leading package holiday operator TUI promise 2020’s summer is back.

Newly refurbished during lockdown, 495-room dual tower resort The Ibiza Twiins is one of the properties hosting TUI guests. Perspex screens on reception and multiple hand sanitiser dispensers are designed to keep Covid-19 at bay; in every room, slippers and bathrobes come with a complimentary disposable face mask.

It’s a useful gift and a hint at the new norm.

From July 13, mask wearing became mandatory in all public areas across the Balearics. Beaches, swimming pools and sun loungers are exempt; when sitting down to eat or drink, face coverings can also be removed. Anyone who breaks the rules could be fined €100 (£89).

In the absence of crowds, social distancing is easy, and I never struggle to find ample space in the sun. I’m one of only 90 guests – a fraction of the capped 70 per cent capacity, and Ricardo Munoz, commercial and marketing director of the Sirenis hotel group, admits they probably won’t see big bookings until 2021.

The other surprise is the breakfast buffet, an institution most hoteliers have retired in our new germophobic world. When I enter the restaurant, a member of staff registers my temperature with an electronic zapper; anything above 37.5C and I’ll be whisked into quarantine. Inside, a one-way system weaves past counters of food, although only serving staff can plate items, and even bananas must be picked up with tongs.

Along with sickness, fear of quarantine is one of the big stumbling blocks preventing people from booking holidays in 2020. TUI recently announced details of a new Covid-19 Cover programme, available to every guest until the end of the year, which promises to take care of costs associated with self-isolation abroad. It provides some reassurance during unpredictable times.

Local guide Pepe Costa, who’s been leading tours for 38 years, says this is the quietest he’s ever seen the island. “But it’s still as beautiful as ever,” he says from beneath a plastic visor, as we explore the breezy, hilltop ramparts of Dalt Vila, Ibiza’s fortified old town. “Many people think we have only the nightlife, but there’s the history, the culture, the gastronomy; there are many things to do.”

Many agree this is a chance to revel in Ibiza’s past glories – from discovering early Phoenician settlements at Sa Caleta, to celebrating the free-spirited, hippy vibe that’s made Ibiza such an inclusive place.

The disco lights may have temporarily dimmed, but there are still opportunities to party and have fun.

Owned by Duane Lineker (nephew of famous former footballer Gary), O Beach was one of the first venues to relaunch its daytime pool parties at the beginning of July.

The chic venue overlooks the bay of San Antonio, Ibiza’s beating heart of entertainment, but today the typically hectic promenade ambles along at a gentler pace.

Inside the bar, I’m allocated my own seating area and poolside daybed, and politely asked not to move around too much. Using my phone to zap a QR code, I can order drinks and platters of food from masked waiters, while DJs spin a suitably laidback set. Aside from the absence of any dancing, it feels like a party in semi-swing.

Up in the rural hills of San Antonio, where olive groves and almond trees advertise Ibiza’s beauty far more effectively than glitzy billboards, iconic hotel, bar and restaurant Pikes is also having a good summer so far.

Although numbers have been reduced and plugs are pulled at 2am (restaurants have been granted a later licence than bars), the atmosphere in the kitsch country farmhouse is still carefree. A couple play tennis on a court dominated by a giant roller blade, once used as a dancer’s podium, while others laze in the pool with inflatable flamingos.

According to Dawn Hindle, co-owner and creative director at Pikes, now is the time to experience real Ibiza: amazing restaurants, superb, spacious beaches and ‘back to mine’ vibe chilled sessions.

“As we have been saying at Pikes for a while, it’s a true ‘rockovery’ moment, and we may never get this experience or moment again.”

How to plan your trip

TUI Blue For Families offers seven nights on an all-inclusive basis at the 4T TUI Blue Aura in Port des Torrents (close to San Antonio), from £537 per person based on two adults and two children sharing. Includes flights from Manchester in October.

TUI Platinum is offering seven nights B&B at the 4T Ibiza Twiins in Playa d’en Bossa, from £513 per person (two sharing). Half board and all-inclusive options are available. Includes flights from Gatwick in October.