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Yacht Rental Aeolian Islands: Top Anchorages and Expert Tips

Advice from Local Skipper Giovanni Arena

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Nestled along the northern fringes of Sicily, within the sun-kissed embrace of Italy's southernmost region, lies an enchanting vista where sulfur-scented air mingles with the whispering breeze, and where the Tyrrhenian Sea unveils its ancient secrets.

The Aeolian Islands, born of primordial fire and shaped by the patient hands of nature, present a spectacle of rugged beauty that transcends time. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, these islands bear witness to the enduring artistry of the sea and wind, sculptors of landscapes that captivate the soul: from the fiery slopes of dormant and active volcanoes to the obsidian-strewn shores and hidden grottos, each of the seven Aeolian gems offers a unique tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered. 

Embark on a maritime journey guided by the expertise of local Sicilian skipper, Giovanni Arena, as we unveil a circular itinerary from the smoldering heart of Vulcano to the tranquil shores of Filicudi. With Giovanni's seasoned guidance, delve into the hidden alcoves and secret coves that define the essence of the Aeolian experience.

How do I get to the Aeolian Islands?  

Set your course for the Aeolian Islands from our convenient bases located in Portorosa and Capo D'Orlando.

  • Departing from Portorosa, you will reach the rugged shores of Vulcano in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, for a total distance of 15 nm.
  • Similarly, launching from Capo D'Orlando, just 16 nm away, you'll find yourself amidst the island in approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.

What's the best time to visit the Aeolian Islands? 

The best time to visit the Aeolian Islands with a private charter is typically from late spring to early autumn, spanning May to October. During this period, you'll encounter optimal weather conditions and calm seas, perfect for sailing and enjoying water activities like swimming and snorkelling.

The southern location of Sicily ensures extended periods of warm weather, making May and October ideal months to luxuriate in the island's beauty aboard your private boat, away from the crowds of tourists.

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Boat Rental Aeolian Islands: book your holiday today!

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Best anchorages in the Aeolian Islands

- Vulcano

- Lipari

- Panarea 

- Stromboli

- Salina

- Filicudi 

- Alicudi


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Vulcano

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Vulcano, the third largest and southernmost island in the Aeolian group, serves as the starting point for our boat journey. Historically, periodic volcanic activity from the Gran Cratere has necessitated island evacuations. Presently, activity is confined to the fumaroles around the Fossa and on the isthmus between the Faraglioni and Vulcanello, with a narrow strip of land separating Vulcanello from the main island.

Best Anchorages on Vulcano:

1. Bay of Porto Levante: Renowned for its warm waters adjacent to the beach, Porto Levante serves as the central bay for accessing Vulcano. Due to its status as the island's sole commercial port, the bay experiences moderate maritime traffic, particularly from regular ferries. Anchoring is feasible with a sandy and muddy seabed, and buoys or nearby jetties are available for mooring. During peak season, booking is advisable.

2. Bay of Porto Ponente: Offering a breathtaking sunset vista, Porto Ponente requires caution due to submerged rocks. Anchorage is recommended in the bay's centre, with depths ranging from 5 to 14 meters. While the seabed is suitable for overnight stays, vigilance against strong winds, which can be forceful, is essential.

3. Grotta del Cavallo: This rocky cove, named for a boulder resembling a horse's head, features a captivating Piscina di Venere (Venus' Pool), ideal for snorkelling excursions. Anchoring is permitted during daylight hours, with anchorage recommended inside the bay to the south, circumventing the Pietra Quaglietta rock. The bay's central seabed is sandy, with large boulders near the cliff.

4. Baia di Gelso: Situated on Vulcano's southernmost tip, Baia di Gelso boasts a small jetty for small boats or tenders, providing access to the renowned da Pina Restaurant (reservations recommended).

5. Baia Della Spiaggia del Cannatella: Adjacent to Baia di Gelso, this bay offers another secure anchoring spot, with a beachside bar perfect for enjoying a sunset aperitif.

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Vulcano Recommendations

For avid trekkers, don't miss the opportunity for a complimentary excursion to the island's crater. The ascent to the summit typically takes around 1 hour, offering breathtaking views at the peak. For a refreshing Sicilian granita experience, head to Ritrovo Remigio located opposite the commercial port. Indulge in authentic Aeolian cuisine at La Bottega Restaurant, conveniently situated in the heart of the village center.

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Lipari 

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Lipari, the largest and oldest of the Aeolian Islands, lies just 6 nautical miles from Vulcano. Divided into two charming villages, Marina Corta and Marina Lunga, the island boasts pristine white beaches dotted with pumice quarries, crystalline seabeds, and dramatic obsidian flows in Acquacalda. Along its western coast, imposing cliffs add to the island's rugged allure. Exploring Lipari by boat unveils a unique perspective, revealing hidden coves, enchanting caves, and majestic rock formations inaccessible by land.

Best anchorages on Lipari

1. Marina Corta: Marina Corta offers a small harbour primarily for local fishing boats, with anchoring opportunities available just south of the harbour entrance on a sandy seabed at around 12 meters in depth. Exercise caution regarding local traffic when approaching. This anchorage provides an ideal base for exploring the village or staying overnight.

2. Marina Lunga: In Marina Lunga, several floating docks cater to yachting needs, offering essential services and amenities. Alternatively, floating docks are available a bit farther down at the Porto Pignataro pleasure port, which also features refuelling facilities. Additional bays worth a visit include Capo Rosso on the island's northeastern side, accessible only by boat, and Spiaggia Praia di Vinci at the southern tip, renowned for its excellent snorkelling opportunities.

Lipari Recommendations

While on Lipari, consider renting a car or moped to fully experience the island's diverse landscapes and culinary delights. Notable dining recommendations include Trattoria del Vicolo, offering traditional Sicilian and Aeolian dishes with a modern twist; La Kasbah, housed within an old theatre nestled amid Lipari's charming alleyways; and Ristorante da Filippino, renowned for its superb seafood offerings. Don't miss indulging in the delicious granita at La Pasticceria d'Ambra in Marina Corta or Subba in Marina Lunga for a refreshing treat.

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Panarea

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Panarea is 10 NM from Lipari (about 1h40min) and is famous for its nightlife, lounge bars, discos under the stars, boutiques, and white houses with blue doors and windows, but above all for its crystal clear water ideal for snorkelling. From the harbour area, you can visit the quaint city centre on foot. 

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Best anchorages in Panarea

At the island's southern tip, there are two main coves: Cala Zimmari and Cala Junco.

1. Cala Zimmari is a safe harbour, well sheltered from the winds and the regular sea coming from the fourth quadrant, so it is ideal for anchoring both during the day and at night. From here you can land on the beach and reach the nearby prehistoric village or the island's centre in about 20 minutes.

2. Cala Junco is a corner of paradise set among the rocks. I strongly recommend doing some snorkelling here: the seabed inside the cove is exceptional.

3. The Islets of Bottaro and Lisca Bianca: you can anchor between the islets on a sandy bottom between 5 and 13 metres, paying attention to the shallow waters in the channel between the two. Here you can enjoy a swim above the solfatara - bubbles coming from the bottom of the sea and ideal for a natural hydro-massage.

4. Basiluzzo islet: The colours of the seabed and the turquoise water are exceptional here. For safe anchoring, I recommend stopping in front of the east coast of the islet on a 9 to 14-meter sand and stone bottom.

If you want to visit the island and anchor the boat in a safe spot, I recommend you take one of the many buoys with taxi service included in the price positioned along the east coast of the island. It is possible to book them in advance or directly on the spot.

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Recommendations on Panarea

Pay a visit to the prehistoric village between Cala Junco and Cala Zimmari and trek along the path from Cala Zimmari around the whole island.

The restaurants Cusiritati and Da Pina are perfect for a fish dinner, while Il Macellaio offers delicious meat or pizza. For an elegant and suggestive aperitif, I recommend Raya restaurant with a panoramic terrace overlooking the bay of Panarea and Stromboli.

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Stromboli 

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Stromboli is undoubtedly the most surprising of the archipelago's islands. Its volcano, in perpetual explosive activity, gives incandescent plays of lava that, especially at nightfall, offer unique emotions. Navigating from Panarea to Stromboli is fascinating and unique throughout the journey that separates them (about 2 hours of navigation).

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Best anchorages on Stromboli 

1. Punta Lena: On the northeastern side of the island is the main town. Here it is possible to anchor on a mixed bed of sand and stones between 5 and 12 metres. Otherwise, it is safer to moor at one of the many buoys in front of the beach at Punta Lena.

Stromboli Recommendations  

The most popular activity on the island is trekking up the volcano with a guide to see the magma pouring out of the crater. Bar Ingrid is a recommended stop for delicious food and a beautiful view over Strombolicchio islet.

On the west side of Stromboli, you can admire the rocky wall shaped by magma flows over the years. For the more experienced, I recommend sailing at sunset to be enchanted by the explosions of fire and lapilli rolling down to the sea. Always check the local protocols on the distance necessary from the coast on this side of the island. 

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Salina 

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Salina is the second-largest island of the Aeolian Archipelago, after Lipari, with an area of about 27 square kilometers.  The rich vegetation of ferns, poplars, oaks, vineyards, and capers also makes it the greenest, especially in the spring and summer seasons.

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Best anchorages on Salina

1. Santa Marina Salina: this is the island's central landing place where you can find two ports, one commercial, where you can stock up on fuel and water, and one dedicated to pleasure boats with all the essential services. You can also anchor safely just outside the harbour and reach the island by tender.

2. Pollara Bay: made famous by the film Il Postino, is a secret treasure of the island and one of the most beautiful in the archipelago. A surreal place where time seems to have frozen. Enter the bay from the northwest, keeping between Punta Perciato and Scoglio Faraglione to anchor on a sandy and rocky sea bed of between 5 and 10 metres. Beware of large boulders almost at water level.

Salina Recommendations 

Lingua is a village on the extreme south-eastern tip of the island where you can anchor on a bottom between 5 and 12 metres for a day or night stop.

The lake is very suggestive: it was built by the Romans to collect the salt used to preserve capers and fish. Let yourself be delighted by the Pane Cunzato and granitas of the Ristorante da Alfredo before returning to the boat.

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Filicudi 

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Together with Alicudi, Filicudi is the furthest island from Sicily, characterized by a rocky coastline and formed by a group of craters. With no roads, the locals often travel on donkeys. Both islands are perfect for those who want to get off the beaten track.

It distances 10NM from Salina, about 1h40min by boat. 

Best anchorages in Filicudi

1. Main harbour bay: on the north side of the island is the bay with the main pier for ferries. Here I do not recommend anchoring as the sea bed is not a good seal, but you can moor at the small floating dock with water service or the buoys.

2. Southern coast: as you approach the first small beach, you can anchor from 11 metres upwards to avoid the large boulders that have crumbled from the rock face over time. 

3. Pecorini a Mare: you can moor near the many buoys available in front of the village.

4. Montenassari rock: you can anchor here at 12-16 metres, preferably during the daylight hours and with a snorkel because of the rocky seabed. Enjoy a nice swim in these waters!

Filicudi Recommendations 

On the west coast of the island of Filicudi, you can admire the beautiful Grotta del Bue (Ox Cave), and half a mile further out to sea, you can see the Canna - a solitary 85-meter high stack in the middle of the sea.

Don't forget to try the Malvasia, a liquored wine typical of this island!

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Alicudi 

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Alicudi is the smallest of the Aeolian Islands. It has a surface of 5,10 square kilometres, with a few dozen people as inhabitants; it is quite far from Filicudi, about 10 miles heading west - 1h40min of navigation.

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Best anchorages in Alicudi

The island has a coin shape, therefore you will not find many sheltered bays, and the seabed drops rapidly. If you want to visit it, I recommend mooring at the buoys available in front of the small village.

It is also good to check the weather forecasts to make sure you find favourable wind and sea conditions.

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Whether you are an experienced sailor or a skipper, you will know that travelling by boat requires flexibility in planning.

Always consider wind and current conditions to modify your return route. The predominant winds during the summer season are those coming from the northeast (Grecale). In the winter season, winds from the southwest (Libeccio) and west (Ponente) are more frequent. 

 skipper Giovanni ArenaAbout skipper Giovanni Arena

"I come from a small fishing village on the Strait of Messina, and since I was a child, I grew up in close contact with the sea and boats. I started having my first experience at sea with a sailing dinghy at the age of 14. A few years later, at the age of 19, I obtained my sailing license and immediately afterwards the title of Yacht & Monotype sailing instructor, the latter obtained on Lake Garda. Here I had the opportunity to work for a couple of seasons in a sailing school as an instructor, interspersed with skippering experience in Italy and Greece."

Follow Giovanni on Instagram @vita_da_barca

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