Seek peace and tranquil by visiting to the beautiful Egadi Islands, a small archipelago which lies in sight of Trapani. Just hop on one of many daily trajects from Trapani, or for a more adventurous journey use hydro skimmer/hydrofoil, and within 30 minutes you will reach a very unique group of islands.
This small, almost untouched archipelago offers a stunning nature, clear blue waters and peaceful low key stays in cosy fishermen villages. Yellow box shaped houses with flat roofs, restaurants serving couscous dishes, and a hot wind will make you feel being somewhere in North Africa. All this comes along with a spectacular underwater life, rocky coasts, sea caves, and the Mediterranean deep-sea fauna, so scuba diving is a must!
The famous “Mattanza”, the culling of tuna, doesn’t take place any more. We can only say that we are grateful to the final ending of that annual slaughter, even if the island of Favignana is now less an attraction to people who were brave enough to witness the brutal killing of hundreds of tuna fishes, and a blood-red sea. Most of the tuna factories at the Egadi Islands and in the region of Trapani are crumbling, some of them have been converted into hotels, like the “Tonnara di Bonagia” near Trapani.
The most lively of the islands is Favignana, boasting 33 km of stunning coast line that occasionally stretches to small sandy beaches. The ideal way to discover this butterfly shaped island is by bicycle. There are several places in the town where you can rent out a bike (look for "noleggio bici") for a very low fee. Favignana is mainly flat with wide fields, only right in the middle the mountain Monte Santa Caterina sticks out (314 m). There are few boat excursions available, to be booked right at the port. Swimmers should head south as there is a lovely beach, the Lido Burrone, which will satisfy all your needs. Bars and restaurants are lovely, serving mainly seafood dishes. All ingrediences are fresh and mostly locally produced!
Getting to Marettimo takes nearly an hour from Trapani on the hydrofoil. If you look out from the ferry, the island appears to be a big rocky and steep mountain that suddenly arises from a dark blue sea with white clouds hanging above. It is a wild island with rugged coasts, but you might be surprised to discover that it is a very green place. In spring Marettimo is dotted with blossoms, and there are some rare plant species to be found. Thanks to its colourful flora, Marettimo is a good place for botanizing and bird watching. Lemon and thyme scent the air of the island, accompanied by concerts of the cicadas. Talking about thyme, the name Marettimo comes from mare (sea) and timo (thyme). Walk trails allow you to plan anything from a short walk to even a full day's trip. Marettimo has a mesmerizing and utterly beautiful underwater life and scuba diving is an absolutet must. There are diving schools organizing trips and courses, so you should definitely try.
Levanzo is the smallest island with only some 400 inhabitants. It is rocky and hilly with an almost untouched and unspoiled nature, featuring more than 400 hundred species of plants, some are endemic of Levanzo. It is our favourite as there are no cars - just sun, the ever changing blues of the Mediterranean Sea and a breathtaking scenery. Time goes by here very slowly, it is a place to soothe and rebalance your mind and body. The best time to go is in May as there aren’t that many tourists and the weather is just splendid. The only village on the island is Cala Dogana which is a picturesque place with a North African touch. Even though Levanzo is small, the walk around the village and the coast might take between 3 and 4 hours. Don’t worry that you will not find your way around Levanzo, there is only one road, so you can’t get lost .Pack up some picnic as we have spotted few benches on our way to Cala Minnola, a small bay recommended by the locals as a perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming. For more ambitious walkers we suggest to walk up to Pizzo Del Monaco which is the highest hill (278 m), and offers the best views of the island and an opportunity to snap up some great pictures with your camera.
Levanzo’s main attraction is the prehistoric cave Grotta del Genovese which can be accessed only with a guide namely by foot (ca 10 km could be quite steep at times, the guide will be waiting for you right at the entrance), by boat (sea conditions permitting), or with a guide by jeep (of course the most convenient). Grotta del Genovese contains wall paintings which are 15,000 years old. The walls are painted with bison and deer, some ritual pictures of men and women dancing as well as charcoals drawings of fish. The beauty of the paintings could be compared with the famous graffity paintings of Altamira in Spain.
One thing needs to be said: we have found only one shop, a bakery, a couple of bars, two restaurants and two hotels on Levanzo, so do book well in advance if you are planning to stay overnight.
Most of the locals are fishermen, and if you are as lucky as us they will take you for a boat tour around the island, or give you a lift to one of the other islands for a small fee or even for free.
To round up your day wait for the amazing sunset and then hop on the hydrofoil back to Trapani.
How to get to the Egadi Islands
The closest mainland town is Trapani (80 km from Palermo), where all the ferries and hydrofoil services depart from. There are 2 companies running the service, Siremar and Ustica Lines and both of them have ticket offices situated at the port. The service operates all year round, subject to the weather and sea conditions. Favignana and Levanzo are both 20 mins away, Marettimo is around one hour.
Detailed information of touristic ports in Sicily you'll find here