A spotlight on The Egadi Islands
The Egadi Islands might not be on most sailors’ radars, but they should be. Those who make the effort to reach the remote archipelago, three islands off the coast of Sicily, find an achingly beautiful spot make up of rocky cliffs and old harbour towns surrounded by the azure lapping ocean. You won’t find any large resorts here - just a place where time stopped many years ago. That’s the charm of it. Here’s the Seamaster rundown of the three islands.
Favignana, often called ‘La Farfalla’ due to its butterfly shape, is the largest of The Egadi Islands and makes for a good starting point on the archipelago. A short 10-mile sail from the mainland city of Trapani brings you directly to the island capital, a cheerful place with an authentic local ambiance found in few other places.
Things to do
One of the best things to do on Favignana is simply to immerse yourself in the local culture. Stroll through the pretty town, watch the fishermen sell their catches of the day or explore the island’s tuna-fishing heritage. Like all The Egadi Islands, Favignana has an intimate connection with the sea and one of the best ways to view the island is from the back of a charter yacht sailing around its rocky coastline, stopping en route to dive into the sea or kick back on hidden beaches. There’s a nearby marine reserve where snorkellers and scuba divers can explore a rich marine life underwater world.
Getting around is a pleasure on Favignana. The compact nature of the towns and villages make walking the best way to explore. If you want to venture a little further afield, there are several bus services, or you could hire a scooter or car at one of the rental offices around the port. Alternatively, the winding island lanes and lack of traffic make it one of the most ideal places for cycling.
Favignana is teeming with beautiful little beaches. Some are popular with locals, others are a little harder to access but worth the extra effort. Try the Cala Rossa which spans a beautiful little bay lapped by the turquoise sea. Or you could opt to kick back on Lido Burrone which has a wide sandy beach and several sun loungers and parasols for rent.
Levanzo is the smallest of the three islands, there is only a population of 200 people, but don’t let its size be a measure of quality. The island’s port is a beauty – a picturesque jumble of white-washed buildings which span a small harbour overlooking the ocean.
Things to do
One of the biggest magnets for travellers is the Grotta del Genovese, a coastal cave whose interior is covered in pre-historic art. Some of the work which dates back more than 13,000 years depicts wildlife like bison, deer and dolphins. For first-timers, it’s a must. There are plenty more things to do nearby like snorkelling or scuba diving with a kaleidoscope of colourful marine life. Be sure to bring your camera when you come to Lavanzo because you’re not going to want to miss catching snaps of the pretty harbour town.
Getting to Levanzo requires a short sail from Trapani. When you arrive on the island, one of the best ways to get around is simply by walking. There are few better ways to connect with the island than an amble around the waterfront or along the country lanes. It’s not big enough to rent a car, though you could hire a bicycle if you want to get around at a quicker pace.
The three main beaches on Levanzo are all within walking distance of the island’s capital, though there are several more wild spots further afield. Cala Dogana is the first beach to greet you when you arrive at the marina. Then there is Cala Fressa, one of the island’s most scenic stretches of beach and Cala Minnola which is only accessible by boat.
Marettimo is the remotest of The Egadi Islands. It lies in the heart of the marine nature reserve and has long attracted travellers who want an authentic slice of Sicilian island culture. Its only settlement is a pretty white-washed fishing village whose jumble of pastel-coloured homes cluster around a small piazza and overlook the ocean.
Things to do
Like the other islands on the archipelago, your best bet for exploring Marettimo is to sail around its picturesque coastline. Along the way, you can stop for refreshing dips, snorkelling adventures or swim ashore to kick back on empty beaches. Scuba divers are in luck. The marine reserve makes for one of the best places to see marine life in Italy. Back on the mainland, be sure to bring some sturdy walking boots because you won’t want to miss hiking along the rocky island trails, some of which lead up to a cluster of Roman ruins.
The island has few roads and the ones they do have quickly turn into rocky dirt tracks outside the main village. Walking makes for the best way to explore the compact village and along the coast to the beaches.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches on Marettimo, an island dotted with scenic coves. If you head to the more remote western coast, don’t skip Cala Bianca or the small beach of Cala Spalmatore whose waters play host to the remains of a pirate ship wreck. The rugged southern coast has more to offer like Cala Nera and Cala Martino where the calm waters are perfect for swimming.