The best beaches in Sicily come with the opportunity to spend a rather different day at the beach. Dive down to a WWII bomber, spot falcons soaring above, tiptoe through orchids or scale the many steps of a natural phenomenon. Which all suggests the trusty bucket and spade is a little redundant. Fear not. On Sicily, the beaches cater for everyone. Families can find town beaches choc-full of facilities or quieter spots to laze the day away. Not every piece of coast comes with a quirky must-see. Which might be just the ticket after a fortnight of exploring and adventure.
For wild orchids, turtles and falcons
Leave your page-turner behind and pack up your binoculars and snorkel instead for this nature-stuffed reserve on the south coast. Torre Salsa Nature Reserve is 760 hectares of coastal idyll. Sand dunes, wetlands, rolling hills, chalk cliffs and – most importantly, beaches, all create perfect habitats for soaring eagles and falcons, delicate wild orchids and egg-laying turtles. Porcupines and horned owls have also been spotted making the most of the sands too. Swerve Spiaggia Libera – the stretch of sand right in front of the car park, and make your way to Costone Bianco. Or, to really be at one with nature, pop along to Spiaggia Naturista – the clothing-optional beach.
Orbzii tip: Over on the east of the island, the small – but essentially perfect, Calamosche Beach is a wild, untouched spot you might want to add to your beach itinerary. Looks a little familiar? This cove has played a role in more than a few adverts and TV spots.
To dive down to a WWII bomber
The best beaches in Sicily come with excellent scuba spots as standard. But, if you’re in the market for something a little less ordinary, have a chat with the team at Saracen Diving Centre. They can whisk you to a bay just north of Palermo, where there’s a WII bomber resting on the sea bed. Junker 52 might be a difficult dive – but it’s worth pursuing that PADI cert for. Around the aircraft, you’ll see groupers, morays, colourful soft corals and sponges and conger eels. Not quite ready to reach the 46m depths of this dive? There are more stunning dives – and courses, you can take with the team.
To perch on a town beach with a difference
Depending on your coastal preferences, the phrase ‘town beach’ can strike fear into your seascape-loving heart. But that could see you skipping one of the best beaches in Sicily. Cefalù is this island’s slice of the Amalfi Coast. Pastel coloured houses practically topple into the sea next to a rather chic stretch of sand. Which does, naturally, draw a crowd in the summer. You’re not necessarily here to roll out a beach towel for the day though. You’re more likely to nip here for a refreshing paddle – or swim – with a spectacular view of the terracotta-topped streets you’ve spent the day mooching through.
To surf Sicily’s waves
On Sicily beaches, surfers are a rare sight. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When the waves pop, you’ll be able to get right to the prime spot in the beach break and ride all the pockets you want. The place to do it? Magaggiari, San Leone and Villaggio Le Capannine are great starting points for experienced boarders. For newbies – or anyone wanting to rent some gear and pick up a few tips, Isola Delle Femmine’s waves are perfect. The nearby Isola Surf School will have you popping up and riding a set in no time. Their €110 surf initiation package comes with 6 hours of surf coaching – plus all the gear you need to get you out on the water.
Orbzii tip: If the surf at Isola Delle Femmine looks a little flat, a hike to the nearby sea caves delivers on a slighter slower-paced endorphin hit.
For an uncrowded hidden gem
In the peak of summer, the best beaches in Sicily can get a little crowded – particularly near Palermo. But there’s a little town with a choice of beaches hidden in plain sight. Easy to access, with train and road links, Lascari is almost too good to be true. Sure, it’s a little light on parking, but deploy the classic travel hack of pitching up early and you should secure a spot. Head for Gorgo Lungo and you’ll find parking, a beach bar and sun lounger rental on a stretch of coast that’s rarely troubled by crowds. The beach here is shingle and pebbles – but as you head into the welcoming waters, it gets increasingly sandy with each step.
To swim over an underwater museum
If lazing on a lounger isn’t high on your list of things to do in Sicily, consider giving the sand a miss and getting your scuba gear on. You’ll want to check out that WWII bomber we mentioned earlier, obviously, but also there’s a hidden underwater museum that’s worth a look. Head for the coast of Marsala – and the off shore waters of Capo Boeo. At a depth of around 10m, you’ll find amphorae, anchors and artefacts – most neatly labelled with the handy info you’d expect to find in a museum. They are the flotsam and jetsam left behind from long departed shipwrecks. For something a little more accessible – but minus the labels – head to the beach at San Vito Lo Capo. The dive shops you’ll find perched on the white sands are the perfect places to kit up and explore.
For a unique shot on your Insta feed
Whether you drop into Scala dei Turchi to climb – and photograph the giant, white mar cliffs, or sunbathe on the sheltered cove behind, you’re guaranteed one thing: footfall. When a natural phenomenon’s this impressive, it draws a crowd. Luckily, the Stairway of the Turks is big enough to host more than a few plucky clamberers scaling their way up for a better view of the clear, blue ocean below. Should you swerve it then? Well, nearby parking, a gorgeous view and on beach facilities suggest not. Get here early, but perhaps this one’s best as a stopping point when you’re on route to other towns in Sicily.
Orbzii tip: Don’t miss the nearby nook of Porto Empedocle. The prison plays host to the work of sculptor Giuseppe Agnello.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a shoreline that reminds you of the Caribbean in Sicily. Beaches like that are few and far between, after all. But make the drive out to San Vito lo Capo and see what you make of its tropical vibe. You’ll find little in the way of steel drums and fish frys – but the scenery? Glorious. And, as our pick of the all-rounders, it’s got the facilities to back up the near-white sands, impossibly turquoise ocean and verdant cliffs. The shallow, warm waters make swimming and snorkelling ideal for families. A handful of watersports add some variety to the sunbathe-swim-read pattern of rotation through the day.
And, delightfully, for those looking to just chill, the nearby town offers plenty of resources: food, drinks, beach-handy trinkets – but makes very few sight-seeing demands from you. A rare treat indeed on this island.