Beaches in Sicily
Sicily's beaches are amongst its best assets. And given that this is an island, no doubt you will come across some during your visit. If you visit during the summer months you can join the hordes on these patches of sand. In fact everyone seems to make their way to the sea during July and August to the extent that the cities can seem somewhat deserted.
If you do plan to go to the beach it is important to note that while almost anything goes on the sand Siciians (or Italians as a whole for that matter) don't tend to walk back to hotels or sit in cafes or restaurants in their swimming costumes. Beach attire (as the word indicates) should only be worn on the beach. By the way: Italians always wear shoes off the beach.
If you have come to enjoy the Sicilian beaches you will be pleased to learn that there is a lot of accommodation available almost right on the sand itself, with campgrounds, B&Bs and other resorts in proliferation throughout these areas. Many of them tend to be seasonal only and some start closing around mid September, so if you plan to visit after this period you should ensure that services are still available and accommodation is still open.
Here are some of the key places to visit around the island. Enjoy.
East coast of Sicily
The illustrious resort town of Taormina is probably most renowned on this coastal stretch for its beaches. Lido Mazzarò is possibly the most popular of these, the beach in this small bay is pebbly and sun loungers are set very close to eachother (especially in July and August when beaches get quite crowded), but the scenery makes up for this. The crowds tend to gather just past Capo Sant'Andrea where the tiny Isola Bella lies. Join them to sunbathe on the beach, put on a mask and snorkel to explore underwater or jump in a pedal boat to cruise around.
If you would like to have some more space and privacy then head out to the beach of Spisone which is located between Mazzarò and Letojanni. The scenery is less picturesque, but there are also less people, and prices for sunbeds and umbrellas are lower than in Mazzarò, even in peak months, and you can sunbathe and swim with views over the sea up to the Italian mainland.
In Letojanni, 6 km from Taormina, you'll find a sandy, sometimes a bit pebbly beach, that stretches for several kilometres. There are some free beach areas, but they could be a bit dirty. In Letojanni there are several Lidos offering services like sun beds, umbrellas, cabins, showers, toilets, restaurant, bar and life guard - for a much better price than in Mazzarò and Isola Bella. The beach in Letojanni comes recommended also for disabled travellers.
One of the most beautiful bays in Sicily is located in Giardini-Naxos, featuring white sand and great panoramic views of Taormina and over the sea to the Italian mainland. In the district 'Recanati' there are a pebbly beach, which is a bit hidden and therefore not as crowded in summer as the bay itself, and a long sandy beach with some pebbles and stones that stretches up north. This is a wonderful part of the coast for swimming and extended beach walks.
Few kilometres north of Giardini-Naxos is the wide and long beach of San Marco.If you are the 'natural beach type' and don't need lidos, entertainment and many other people, this is your beach. There is only one restaurant and there are no beach services - so bring along something to eat and drink, and a sun shade. Don't leave anything in your car! Near the beach is a ranch where you can hire a horse and go riding on the beach.
Catania boasts a golden sandy beach - interrupted from time to time by lava rocks - that stretches almost 30 km. The beach itself is beautiful, with lidos, restaurants and discotheques, and also many free areas, but as usual near a town the water could be not very clean.
The waters around Syracuse are also not always clean, but there are a few nice stretches on the island of Ortygia where you can sunbathe and also go for a swim (ask the locals). South of the city there are a number of campgrounds, holiday villages and resorts along the coast, such as Arenella, Ognina and Fontane Bianche. There is also a splendid wetlands reserve, Vendicari, on the coast south of Noto with marshes and a superb beach. A walking track runs the whole length of the reserve and you could also do some bird watching.
West coast of Sicily
The best beaches near Trapani lie just to the east. To the south of Trapani are the uninhabited Stagnone islands, however while these are picturesque, tourists usually come to see the process of salt extraction rather than lie on the beach. Still it’s a nice place to visit and there are some good eating places nearby.
Wind conditions in the lagoon between Trapani and Marsala are great for kite and wind surfing. This is a good place for learning these fun sports as there are several windsurf and kite surf schools.
Near the archaeological site of Selinunte you'll find golden and white sandy beaches, stretching along the coastline. There are some small seaside resorts where you'll find lidos, but also quite a few free beaches - make sure to pack a picnic basket, some bottles of water and an umbrella.
North coast of Sicily
The northern Sicilian coast is particularly superb and as a result can be very busy in summer. Highlights along this coast include the pretty town of Cefalù renowned for its mosaics in the cathedral and also the colourful fishing boats on its shores. It has a nice sandy beach set below a rocky outcrop. East of here the coast stretches towards Milazzo, but just before this are a gorgeous set of coastal lakes at Oliveri. These are part of the Riserva Naturale Orientata Laghetti di Marinello and well worth stopping off for some seaside enjoyment. The beach of Oliveri is pebbly, but this guarantees clear waters, and the panorama stretches to the Italian mainland. Further east, just some kilometres before Messina, in Mortelle, you'll find dunes, dunes of fine white sand.
If you head west from Cefalù instead, one of the seaside stops you should make is in San Vito Lo Capo. This is possibly Sicily's best beach with a gorgeous stretch of white sand below an enormous promontory, boasting light turquoise lukewarm waters. Here one feels like being in the Caribbean. The beach is located very close to the Parco dello Zingaro, a marine reserve with superb walking, bird watching, and swimming in tiny rocky bays. From here there are two coastal stretches right around to Trapani including the Golfo di Cofano and Golfo di Bonagia. We must not forget to mention the cute little town Scopello and it's splendid beach.
South coast of Sicily
This region includes the area from Agrigento to Portopalo di Capo Passero.
Probably the best beaches on this stretch are those in the very far south, particularly at Portopalo. This small town has an active fishing and boating life and two islands just off the coast which locals say you can swim to in summer. There are some splendid camping grounds on this southern tip with fantastic views.
Beaches on the Sicilian Islands
Sicily has a number of fantastic island groupings. These include the Aeolian Islands north of Messina, Ustica north from Palermo and the Egadi Islands west of Trapani. You can arrive on these islands by hydrofoil and ferry from port cities nearby. Schedules are far more frequent in the summer months. All islands are of volcanic origins, have only a few sandy beaches, mostly black, but make up for it with breathtaking sceneries, stunning views, romantic coves and a crystalline sea.
Vulcano on the has some splendid mud baths to enjoy (mind: it is good for your health, but you'll stink of sulphur for some time). The island of Panarea has poor beaches but makes up with some of the most stunning underwater spots in Sicily. The most romantic bay of the whole archipelago is Pollara on the island of Salina. Diving in general is recommended on all islands of this archipelago.
Also the Egadi Islands and in particular the island of Ustica are very good for snorkelling and diving. The colourful fish and corals, underwater grottoes, walls and rocky coasts of Ustica make the small island a paradise for divers. Most beaches on the Egadi Islands and Ustica are rocky.
The island of Lampedusa is far more better known in the world as a landing point for African refugees than as a holiday destination - if they make it alive until there in their rusty 'soul vendors' and nutshells. So most guests are Italians. Few people know that Lampedusa features excellent diving facilities and spots, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Italy, the 'Rabbit Beach' with white sand and wonderful waters.