On a small island off the coast of Sicily, experience the essence of the Mediterranean, surrounded by white beaches and startlingly clear water.
Technically, the island of Lampedusa is closer to Tunisia than it is to the Italian mainland. Located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) off Sicily’s southern coast, the tiny island, part of the Isole Pelagie archipelago, has been a meeting ground for the Mediterranean’s many cultures for thousands of years. Taste the fish couscous, a specialty, for a sense of the mixture of ethnicities creating Lampedusa’s unique culture.
Most people start Lampedusan vacations on the beaches, so head to the water. Lie out on the sand of Rabbit Beach, the island’s most famous stretch of sand, surrounded on all sides by white cliffs. Rent a boat and row or motor to the Isola dei Conigli, known for its loggerhead turtles. Escape the crowds for Cala Greca, a tiny beach with brilliant white sand, or the secret Cala Galera.
Scooter along to the northern coasts, where North Shore Cliffs present an entirely different perspective on the sea. Walk up Monte Rosso, one of Lampedusa’s three peaks, to see the farming in its vast crater. Before the sun sets, try diving into the clear water in search of the Madonna del Mare, which teems with sea life. Toast life in the gathering twilight in Lampedusa Town.
Lampedusa is served by connections to Sicily and the Italian mainland. The island is a 1-hour flight from Palermo or Catania. There is also a ferry service, which takes just over 8 hours from Sicily. In September, hydrofoils take 4 hours. The island’s small size makes it extremely easy to visit on foot, but many visitors rent scooters or mopeds. Hourly shuttles connect Lampedusa Town and Rabbit Beach. Lampedusa has become increasingly frequented by migrants trying to make their way to Europe.
From Lampedusa, charter a boat to nearby islands, including the Isola dei Conigli or Linosa. Lampione, which has only a lighthouse, has some of Europe’s best diving.