7 days in the Aeolian Islands on a superyacht

Palermo and Levanzo

When one hears the name Sicily, images of Taormina, Etna and Messina are conjured up. These are great destinations, but if you want a truly unique experience, you should charter a superyacht in the Aeolian Islands.

You won’t find lots of glitzy nightlife, just picture-postcard villages and endless opportunities to hike in the rugged, windswept mountains, swim in some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean and laze in the hot, southern sun.

Day 1: Palermo and Levanzo

Palermo may have its hidden treasures, but this trip is more about quiet anchorages and life in the slow lane. Close to the Punta Raisi airport lies the miniature boat basin at Terassini from where you are just a tender ride away from your yacht waiting close by at anchor. After several hours pleasant cruising westwards, you’ll arrive at CalaFredda, on the island of Levanzo.

Spend a comfortable night in this snug anchorage after exploring Levanzo’s Grotta del Genovese with its amazing 6-10,000-year-old cave drawings depicting Sicily’s most ancient industry – tuna fishing.

Picture courtesy of  Marcin Krzyzak/Shutterstock.com

Favignana and Marettimo

By the middle of the morning on your second day you could be enjoying the sights at the village on the island of Favignana, just a few miles south of Levanzo. The outdoor market close to the harbour has fresh fruit and vegetables and you can pick out the best catch of the day direct from the boats of the local pescatori for your chef to turn into a wonderful lunch or dinner…

With no roads or cars, Marettimo, just a few miles west of Favignana, is the wildest and least developed of the Egadi Islands. From the superyacht anchorage at CalaManione you can spend a leisurely afternoon swimming, exploring the grottos by tender or hiking the trails that criss-cross the island.

An easy walk with panoramic views begins at the base of the Bourbon fort at Punta Troia. After an hour’s hike to the village, reward yourself with a cold drink from one of the tiny outdoor restaurants before returning to the yacht by tender.

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By the time you’re breakfasting on the luxury yacht on day three you’ll be well on your way on the 70-mile passage to Ustica – one of the most remote spots in the Mediterranean. It may be hard to get to, but this island is well-known amongst the diving fraternity.

Ustica is the tip of a sunken volcano, green and fertile, with spectacular grottos and exceptionally clear water, drawing thousands of scuba divers each year.

Local dive guides can lead you on a magical underwater archaeological tour to view ancient Roman amphorae and evidence of nautical activity since the beginning of recorded history.

Picture courtesy of Andrey Lavrov/Shutterstock.com

Alicudi, Filicudi and Stromboli

Travelling east towards Alicudi, you’ll cruise close to the shoreline on your superyacht and marvel at the dramatic ridges and fissures formed by volcanic activity and eroded into fantastical shapes. A few miles further east at Filicudi you can stop for lunch and enjoy a swim.

It’s well worth breaking out the snorkelling gear to explore the Grottadel Blue Marino (Cave of the Monk Seal). Sadly the monk seals are long gone, but the luminous show of reflected sunlight is among the best found anywhere.

Continuing northeast, you’ll be able to spot Stromboli’s billowing puffs of smoke emerging through the Mediterranean haze. Active for thousands of years, Stromboli is a mariner’s natural beacon, perpetually spewing rock and ash that tumble 3,000 feet and finally crash into the sea with great explosions of spray.

In return for some strenuous exercise, the climb up Stromboli will stay etched in your memories for a lifetime. After a two-and-a-half hour ascent, you arrive at the crater’s edge just after dark. The sight and sound of an active volcano roaring and belching plumes of fiery lava is beyond the imagination.

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Panarea is only a few kilometres away, and its alluring quaintness may entice you to spend the whole day and night here. Leaving your luxury yacht at anchor near the harbour, spend a lazy morning wandering the cobblestone streets and browsing the elegant shops of San Pietro, then snorkel or kayak the natural tunnel at the south end of the small islet of Dattilo.

If you wish to dine off the boat, the deck at the Hotel Raya is a fabulous sunset venue. The Italians love their fireworks, and with luck you may be treated to a grand display celebrating a patron saint or any number of obscure events.

Picture courtesy of  Eugenia Struk/Shutterstock.com


For those who lack the will or stamina to climb Stromboli, the easier hike to Vulcano’s less dramatic Gran Cratere can be reached in an hour from the anchorage of Porto di Ponente. If you don’t mind the stench of sulphur and long to re-live your childhood by frolicking in the mud, try the pools at the water’s edge, with their reputed therapeutic benefits.

In the afternoon, you’ll anchor beneath the hulking Castello, built in the mid-1500s after Barbarossa’s murderous rampage, from where you can explore the bustling village of Lipari. The excellent collection in the Aeolian Archaeological Museum is a must for anyone interested in Mediterranean history.

Every souvenir and trinket imaginable can be found in the maze of shops tucked into the back streets of Lipari.

Picture courtesy of Duchy/Shutterstock.com

Reggio Calabria or Palermo

Finally you’ll cruise the 70 miles back to Palermo, or perhaps take the more scenic route through the Strait of Messina to Reggio Calabria. Onward flights can then be taken from either Palermo International Airport or Reggio Calabria Airport.

Picture courtesy of Sil63/Shutterstock.com

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