Welcome to the first stop of our adventures and explorations in the Aeolian Islands! Come along with us as we soak up the sun, hike volcanoes, and kayak the surrounding seas of this remote volcanic archipelago off the coast of Sicily, Italy.
First up is the island of Vulcano, our home away from home for the next three nights, and the base for our adventurous days exploring the Aeolian Islands. So what’s there to do on this tiny volcanic island? Plenty to keep a family of four busy during the day, and exhausted by nightfall! Here are three of our favorite moments spent on the island of Vulcano.
Hiking to the Crater of Fossi di Vulcano
Vulcano is the southernmost Aeolian Island, and the first island encountered from mainland Italy. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, and with an active volcano rising up from within, this tiny island offers beachgoers and hikers alike something to experience.
Many visitors arrive on Vulcano with the intent to summit Fossi di Vulcano. Whether your arrival is via a day trip or for overnight, a hike to see the volcano’s crater is a must! Hiking to the crater’s edge is not overly challenging, making it ideal for families of all ages.
Standing at the edge of an active volcano is an almost surreal experience! The slightly smelly, quite steamy, sulfuric gasses emanating up from the smoking crater below reminds all that this is still an active volcano. Lest you might forget! Green tinged volcanic rock stand in testimony that deep down below, Mother Nature still surges, bubbles and boils.
Though some people may say the smoldering, sulfurous smell that emanates from Fossi di Vulcano may be a deterrent from considering Vulcano as their Aeolian Islands adventures home base, it wasn’t an issue for us. Perhaps it was our hotel’s location on the opposite side of the island, away from the volcano!
The amazing views across the crater to the village down below and the vast expanse of the Mediterranean beyond, are well worth the initial, somewhat steep, ascent up the winding trail. One can find the trail to Fossi di Vulcano a short walk from town. Plan for three hours, perhaps more, to complete the hike. No guide is required to ascend Fossi di Vulcano.
Sea Kayak Adventures Around Vulcano
Experience Vulcano from a different perspective. Go on an adventurous sea kayak expedition! Don’t let its location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea deter you from experiencing the island from the waters’ edge. The waters surrounding Vulcano are sufficiently calm, perfect for all levels of kayak experience to enjoy.
From half day, calm and mild sea adventures to much more challenging all day excursions, kayakers of all abilities can enjoy an afternoon discovering another side of Vulcano. This must-do adventure is a great way to spend a morning on the water, whether you are in a relaxed, chill mode or are seeking something more challenging.
Along the way, paddle into caves and tunnels carved from lava flows of long ago. Navigate past cliffs, secluded grottos, and pumice caves, all while soaking in the beauty of the rugged natural landscape, sea birds floating above, and warm, tranquil waters beneath.
Pull up into a secluded bay, just you and your kayaking buddies, for a bite to eat and a refreshing swim before heading back. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Go for the overnight kayak experience! Spend a night of nautical camping after a day of kayaking, no experience required. Our guided kayak experience was provided by Sicily Kayak.
Uncrowded Beaches & Gorgeous Sunsets
The island and its active volcano have long been attracting and engaging visitors, including ancient Romans who once thought Fossi di Vulcano to be the chimney of the fire god Vulcan’s workshop. Today, some come here for volcano hikes and kayaking expeditions. And many more come for the beaches, therapeutic mud baths, and amazing sunsets!
Wake up to the soothing sounds of the Mediterranean Sea just steps away. Beaches are groomed to perfection, awaiting the arrival of the day’s beachgoers. The morning sun reflects off a nearly picture perfect scene of sailboats floating atop the calm waters.
Spend an afternoon soaking in the sun. Swim in bubbling, thermal spa-like waters that abound in the bays and grottos of this fabulous little island. Enjoy the calm and tranquility of an early evening on a nearly empty beach, the day trippers having now left the island.
Partake in a therapeutic mud bath in hot springs fueled by nearby volcanic activity. Or simply wade through crystal clear waters lapping along the edges of a black sand beach, refreshing on the feet and soothing for the soul.
Settle in for an evening light show of spectacular imagery. Watch as the sun sets over the horizon, sailboats moored for the evening just off the beach, waiting patiently for the next day’s arrival and adventures. Yes, this might just be paradise!
Getting To & Around The Aeolian Islands
Plan sufficient time into your travel and transportation schedules for an Aeolian Islands adventure. Most visitors arrive via an hours long hydrofoil or ferry from Milazzo, Italy. Though a hydrofoil is faster, either one will take several hours, so settle in and enjoy the ride!
Once in the islands, whether you call Vulcano or another Island your home away from home, ferries, sailboats, or high speed boats will most likely be your mode of transportation between islands. Island hopping is quite easy between Vulcano and the other main islands of Lipari and Stromboli, so long as you plan accordingly!
Our Aeolian Islands home base was Vulcano, utilizing hydrofoils and ferries to experience other islands. Our beachfront hotel was Les Sables Noirs, a perfect place to begin and end our days enjoying this fabulous, remote archipelago off the coast of Italy. Though dining choice are perhaps more limited than other locations, we still enjoyed the local dinner scene!
Have You Been to the Aeolian Islands?
Though our time was short, our adventures and experiences in the Aeolian Islands were well worth the efforts it took to arrive upon and transfer between these awesome islands off the coast of Italy. Our home base on Vulcano served us well for the adventures we experienced.
How about you? Have you been to the Aeolian Islands? Did you experience Fossa di Vulcano? What was your favorite experience on Vulcano? Which island did you stay on? Do share!
All images by C.Biederman.