Sicily: a yachting haven


Bursting with sensory delights, a yacht charter itinerary encompassing Sicily and its neighbouring islands is an absolute treat. Trace the curves of this spectacular coastline to soak up stunning views across emerald waters or head ashore, where a warm Italian welcome awaits. Take time to inhale the lingering fragrance of lemon groves, tantalise your taste buds sampling exquisite local cuisine and relish the beautifully mild climate.

Palermo

Sicily’s capital and the largest city on the island, Palermo is fringed with golden sands and nature reserves, situated in a sprawling bay underneath the limestone magnificence of Monte Pellegrino. The city beach of Mondello is an elegant seaside resort, decorated with palm-lined avenues and elegant icing sugar villas – the beautiful swathes of golden sand are a popular choice through to the evening when the waterfront lights up. Picturesque and laid back, neighbouring Sferracavallo beach boasts transparent water and great snorkelling, plus small local restaurants serving unforgettable fish dishes. The crystal waters at the authentic baroque fishing village of Santa Flavia offer undeniable charm, while diving enthusiasts will relish the marine oasis of Secca della Formiche, teeming with colourful underwater life.

Popular for its bustling atmosphere and a steadily temperate climate, Palermo is visited by those looking to explore the cocktail of culture, history and tradition on display in the blend of Arab-Norman architecture and superb local gastronomy reflecting Sicily’s rich multicultural past. Ornate Piazza Bellini and the Arab-Norman Palatine Chapel in the Royal Palace are stunning historical attractions, while the imposing Teatro Massimo is Italy’s biggest opera house providing a diverse entertainment schedule. For a true taste of history, exploring the underground tunnels at Catacombe dei Cappuccini is an amazing opportunity. When the lights go down in Palermo, the bustle of modernity comes alive amidst the transcendent ancient architecture – nightlife here will not disappoint.

Taormina

Picturesque Taormina adorns the cliffs high above the eastern coast of Sicily, with terraces that cascade gracefully to the sea. Strewn with cobblestone piazzas, elegant shops and outdoor cafes, the array of pretty beaches can be accessed by a funicular tramway from shore, whilst there are countless fabulous anchorages for visiting yachts. Sail past scenic Isola Bella island where hidden walkways and unusual plants frame the rocky promontory. With imposing Mount Etna in the distance, admire Greek ingenuity found in the archaeological ruins, Saracen castle and spectacular ancient theatre. Cruising the impossibly blue coastal waters as the painted hillsides rise aloft, it is easy to see the inspiration that has motivated generations of artists and writers visiting Sicily.

Catania

On the Ionian Sea, overlooked by Mount Etna, then ancient port and second largest Sicilian city, UNESCO-listed Catania is bursting with grand historical delights. Monochrome palazzi towers overlook ochre-hued piazzas, while famed La Pescheria market buzzes with life. A city packed with attractions and choices, the opera season runs from October to June at the Teatro Massimo Bellini, which is well worth a visit. Cuisine is the pride of every true Sicilian and this home of ‘Pasta a la Norma’ does not disappoint in delicious local fare. Scala dei Turchi is a perfect beach surrounded by unique white limestone rocks and boasting two private clubs that attract a bustling crowd. Alternatively, trendy Lido Azzuro is a popluar sandy stretch, complemented by waterfront bars that transform at sundown when DJ’s arrive to set the scene.

The Egadi Islands

Filled with laid-back appeal, the Egadi (or Aegadian) isles, on the eastern Sicilian coast, boast a seductively calm and typically Italian atmosphere. Butterfly-shaped Favignana is a picturesque fishing island, brimming with quaint piazzas and a relaxed pavement-café lifestyle. Discover the long history of the native Florio family and tuna fishing at the fascinating local tonnara museum, also exhibiting the oldest bottle of wine in the world! The majority a protected nature park, nearby Levanzo is dotted with charming whitewashed houses that cluster the main waterfront at Cala Dogana, providing an exclusive setting for visiting yachts. A must-see on this island is the Grotta del Genovese, best accessed by yacht, where Paleolithic cave etchings depict ancient tuna fishing dating back 10,000 years. Peaceful Marettimo has a natural draw, with countless walking trails ashore and crystal-clear coastal waters filled with fabulous diving and snorkelling sites. The sprinkling of tiny neighbouring islets, most notably Formica and Maraone, simply add to the magic of sailing this lesser-known and strikingly beautiful archipelago by yacht.

The Aeolian Islands

The remote island of Filicudi is filled with wild, natural wonders. Ancient pathways meander through mature olive groves with incredible prehistoric village ruins found at Capo. Cruise past the famed La Canna rock and the bright blue Grotta del Bue Marino, the largest cave found here and home to rare monk seals. Salina is the second largest of the Aeolians and one of the most mountainous, with three of the area’s highest points. Discover freshwater springs, charming villages, lush vegetation and hiking trails galore. At the end of the day take the opportunity to enjoy a glass of local Malvasia wine at one of the charming bars in Pollara, where you can watch the spectacular sunset.

Known as the VIP island and often a favoured choice for fashionistas and jetsetters, Panarea is in fact the smallest Aeolian isle. Take a walk-through car free, whitewashed streets in chilled San Pietro to relish the relaxed vibe, anchor off picture-perfect Cala Junco beach and visit the peaceful cove at Le Guilie. A coastal stroll to Punta Milazzese, where Bronze Age settlement foundations perch atop the headland, is highly recommended. Established island nightlife is lively with modish partying until the early hours at Hotel Raya. In total contrast, magical and remote Stromboli is home to “The Black Giant” volcano, which has erupted non-stop throughout history. Watching the natural fireworks from the deck of a charter yacht with a drink in hand is a truly memorable experience. For an exceptional visit, book a guided sunset ascent to the 900m summit and witness orange magma shoot from the crater against the darkening sky.

Dazzling Lipari is the largest and most populated isle- a lively place with a small-town feel and friendly atmosphere. Wander around pretty Lipari Town, filled with winding lanes lined with boutiques, restaurants and local delicatessens; don’t forget to purchase delicious local capers and Malvasia wine here. In the north, the white pumice beach and luminescent aquamarine water of Spiaggia Bianca di Pomici offer a perfect bay for yachts to anchor with stunning views. Remember to embrace the infectious Sicilian atmosphere and sample Lipari’s bustling and fun nightlife with plenty of entertainment. In iconic Vulcano, the Faraglione della Fabbrica hot springs are a perfect spot to relax in the therapeutic mud. Home to Fossa di Vulcano, which gives the island some beautiful black sand beaches, this is an ideal place to spend time snorkelling and swimming.

Ideal for a summer yacht charter, the north and west coasts of Sicily bring together an abundance of natural beauty and activities ideally accessed from the water. Adventure awaits in a variety of radiant islands and captivating towns, all filled with genuine Italian charm.

Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a global leader in luxury yachting, providing a bespoke experience across yacht charter, sales and management.

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Comments (13)

  1. Graham says:

    Sicily is one of the bigger Med islands. After reading this there is more much to do. Would a 10 day yacht charter give you a chance of seeing the best of Sicily?

    • Amanda says:

      Hello Graham, yes there is so much more to discover than initially meets the eye along the beautiful Sicilian coastline! A ten day yacht charter would be ideal to explore, but also to have time for relaxation opportunities and water sports fun! We would be delighted to give you more information as required.

  2. Karen says:

    Amazing that the Teatro Massimo is Italy’s biggest opera house. After all Italy is rather good at opera houses. Though I once went to see an outdoor opera production in Rome and that was on a massive scale. That was so long ago that I’ve forgotten the name of the venue.

  3. Kenny Ralph says:

    Intrigued to see what Arab-Norman architecture looks like, can’t be too much of it around. Always wanted to visit Palermo. Sailing into the harbour would be some way to see the city for the very first time.

  4. Kate says:

    I grew up in the era when MTV and music videos were new. I spent most of my teenage years watching boy bands sunning themselves on yachts and dashing around blue bays on jet-skis. It left me dreaming of that sort of lifestyle. At long last I’m getting into a sort of position where I might, with a little help from my friends, to quote the ultimate boy band, be able to charter a yacht and live the dream myself.

    • Nick says:

      A yacht charter offers such an exclusive opportunity to wake up to a new view every day, to explore stunning destinations with ease and to enjoy luxury service, facilities and cuisine that are tailored to your needs. With a host of spectacular locations offering perfect cruising grounds, we would be delighted to create a unique yachting holiday to suit your needs.

  5. Lara Emory says:

    My ex in-laws explored those Catacombe dei Cappuccini tunnels, it sounded pretty exciting and they had been to Palermo a few times so it’s safe to say liked it there. I’ve wanted to explore the catacombs in Paris so I’ll add Palermo to that list. Considering I hadn’t even known Filicudi existed, I’m tempted. The landscape there sounds and looks amazing. Monk seals, another thing I’d not known existed. I can imagine yachting there would be fantastic, especially if you’re able to stop off on the way to explore the smaller villages as you go. You’ve listed some beautiful places here, and made yachting it seem particularly appealing because I wouldn’t have thought of really doing it that way.

    • Nick says:

      Thank you Lara – there are indeed some truly fascinating places to visit and accessing by yacht provides an entirely new viewpoint that is often not considered. It also means you can stop where you want whilst having the opportunity to enjoy the waterfront and harbour area plus local culture and entertainment on offer at so many fantastic coastal villages that would be perhaps have previously been missed.

  6. Bryan Myers says:

    This is absolutely breathtaking. I stayed with an Italian couple south of Rome a little over a year ago and we got into some discussions about Sicily and its cultural beauty. Food, beer and wine!

    It left me wanting to visit there someday. My mother is fully Italian and my grandfather had relatives from Sicily. I can’t imagine a better way to see Palermo. The waterfront at night … and the local fish dishes must be mesmerizing.

    I’d love to see the theatre at Taormina and spend some time in Catania as well. What a dreamy haven.

    • Nick says:

      Thank you Bryan – I can definitely recommend Taormina for so many different reasons, but the theatre is very special. The character and lifestyle in Sicily is simply wonderful making it a really interesting travel destination.

  7. Roberta K. says:

    I would recommend at least a 2-day sailing tour of the Aeolian Islands. Best way to see and explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site is by sea. All seven of the volcanic islands offer something different. I have personally tried the mud baths in Vulcano Island and is definitely an experience. Just the smell alone is an experience. But I’ve read all about the benefits and I took the plunge. It was warm and playing with the the slippery mud is fun.

    • Nicholas Dean says:

      Great to hear you have enjoyed exploring the Aeolian Islands by yacht – the mud baths on Vulcano certainly sound like a fun experience.

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