Sailing to the Egadi Islands
Starting from Palermo we recommend a stop at San Vito Lo Capo which shares its name with the beach and the fishing village which developed around an old Saracen fortress, later turned into a shrine dedicated to San Vito. San Vito is a lively town with an excellent mix of sun, sea, history and monuments. Two points of special interest are The Sanctuary and Santa Crescenza both built in Arab-Norman style. From The Sanctuary square there is the main road of Via Savoia that is closed to traffic and offers a lovely walk that leads to the sea. Also recommended is a visit to the Museum of the Sea on Via Savoia. Here you will find important archaeological discoveries from the sea bottoms of San Vito. From San Vito Lo Capo we recommend crossing to Favignana or Levanzo to begin your island exploration.
Favignana is the largest of the Egadi islands and is smooth with white tuff caves that can be found along its sides. The west side of the mountain slopes down into the sea, forming a number of evocative caves and grottoes which are a delight to visit. The little town centres around two charming piazzas and the local cuisine is excellent. Favignana is home to the largest tuna fishing station in Sicily (tuna festival is in May).There is a prison, tuna factory and a lot of restrictions. Excellent typical food and tuna.In May and June there is the time of Mattanza when large groups of tuna pass through the area are caught by the tonnaroti (tuna fishermen). The boats go to sea to cast the nets so to create a corridor and the tuna go through it following a fixed way. Besides the so-called chamber of the death, it is also placed a thick and dense net, closed at the bottom, where the tunas are closed and then under the direction of the Rais, they start to kill the animals. The ritual contains something sacred and it marks the existence on the island since this, in the past, due to the Mattanza big catch. The complex and ritual way of fishing follows rhythms and formalities fixed by the Rais, chief of the tuna station, once the only head of the village too. The west of the island is dominated by Montagna Grossa while the eastern part of the island is flatter and harbours the island’s main town. The jagged coastline is interrupted by short stretches of beautiful sandy beaches. There are many areas with lovely bays and good anchorage: Cala Rotonda and Cala Grande on the west coast and the area between Punta Faraglione and Punta Sottile on the north western coast. It is also possible to anchor in the bay of Porto Favignana which is a small harbour with fishing boats, ferries and there is water, fuel and amenities. It is not easy to find quay mooring although inside the port provides good protected anchorage. There is a nice village which has small boutiques where you can shop for traditional handicrafts and food stuffs. There are many excellent restaurants and it is a lovely place to explore by foot. For a nice swimming and good anchorage along the area between Punta Longa and Cala Rotonda on the south side of the island is excellent. There are many wonderful beaches, rocks, clear waters and a lot of variation in the scenery. A perfect place for snorkelling and diving. This is good area to anchor overnight with protection from north and north westerly winds. In the north west of the island there is a wonderful characteristic small bay of Cala Rossa. The caves are very beautiful, like the Grotta Azzurra; the Grotta degli Innamorati (The Lovers\' Cave) and finally the Grotta dei Sospiri (The Cave of Sighs).
Marettimo is the most remote and wildest island of the Egadi group and is defined by its steep, rocky mountains with great limestone cliffs that plunge down into the sea. There is Monte Falcone (700 metres) and the area is a very well protected marine reserve. The hamlet of Marettimo is nestled at the foot of the mountain and to one side extends Punta Troia which is topped with ruins from a Spanish castle that served as a prison until 1844. The island is covered with a rich and varied vegetation of more than 500 rare and unique botanical species. There are numerous caves that nestle among the dramatic cliffs along the coast. The most striking include the Grotta del Cammello in which shelters a small pebble beach, Grotta del Tuono ( Cave of Thunder ), Grotta Perciata and Grotta del Presepio. The bay of Cala Bianca is very deep but a beautiful place to anchor as is the bay of Cala Manione. In the south of the island between Punta Libeccio and Secca del Cretazzo there is an area of stupendous waters and beautiful places to anchor. In the bay of Punta S. Simone there is good anchorage and it is here that the main village is located. There is anchorage outside the harbour at Cala Mannione on the east side of the island where you can anchor or alternatively we recommend travelling up and down from Favignana. There are many restrictions around Marettimo and the whole of the west side has restricted entry. We suggest taking a tourist boat trip to visit this stupendous area with beautiful caves, beaches and sea; it is definitely a tour not to be missed.
Levanzo is north of Favignana and the smallest of the Egadi islands. It is an unspoilt and very beautiful island, immersed in green, natural vegetation and surrounded by a crystal clear sea. It is famous for its Grotta del Genovese ( cave of the Genoese ) where there is evidence of prehistoric art and paintings dating back to the Neolithic age. There are many hills, the tallest being Pizzo dei Monaco ( 278m ) The only built up area is situated on the southern coast of the island in a bay called Cala Dogana. Here there is a small harbour where you anchor and visit the small village where there are a few excellent restaurants and bars where you can sample the variation of fish soups and specialities and traditional couscous. Levanzo’s waters are a paradise coloured rich shades of green and deep blue and there are spectacular places for swimming and snorkelling between Punta dei Sorci and Capo Grosso in the north and north-west of the island.
Pantelleria If time allows a visit to Pantelleria is recommended. It is 50 miles from Favignana and it is possible to spend 2 or 3 days exploring the fascinating architecture and relics of lava stone artefacts from the Phonenecian Age. It is a volcanic island close to the African coast and the highest point on the island is Montagna Grande (836m) which is an ancient crater. The rocky black lava coastline is riddled with caves and small headlands projecting into the sea. The land mass being volcanic is extremely fertile and well drained, and therefore suited to the cultivation of wine. The traditional type of house is called ‘dammuso’ which is Arab in origin. Pantelleria is truly an island to explore and fall in love with. There is a good marina north of the island with water, fuel and amenities. The local cuisine is excellent and it is essential to try the fish specialities and Pantescan couscous. There are some places at the main port near the fishing boats that offers free quay mooring. There is also good anchorage on the south west side of the island. Don’t miss a fantastic swim at Lago di Venere inside the island. It is which is volcanic in origin and has thermal springs and salt water draining into it. Here there is the airport and ferry services for southern Italy, Palermo etc.