Category: Sailing the Mediterranean

Discover La Maddalena: The Hidden Gem of Sardinia

Italy Sardinia Madallena archipelago

Close your eyes and imagine an idyllic island paradise – turquoise waters, secluded beaches, and spectacular views. Welcome to La Maddalena, a stunning Italian archipelago located off the Northern Coast of Sardinia. This tiny chain of islands are dwarfed by their larger neighbours of Sardinia and Corsica, and can often be overlooked by visitors to the region. Although they may be small geographically, these islands certainly pack a punch when it comes to authentic Italian culture, cuisine and breathtaking scenery. La Maddalena is a highlight of our sailing holidays to Southern Italy – keep reading to discover why.

The La Maddalena Islands

The La Maddalena archipelago is made up of seven individual islands, the largest being La Maddalena itself. Other islands include Caprera, Santo Stefano, Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria – as well as many other small islets. Discover the islands with classic yacht Chronos for a luxury holiday with 5* service, gourmet cuisine, and onboard water sports. Or visit with luxury catamaran Agave for a wellness experience complete with a professional guide and an onboard nutritionist!

Natural Wonders

La Maddalena is perhaps best known for its rugged natural beauty, carefully protected and preserved by its status as a natural park. From powder-soft beaches backed by pink granite cliffs to lush pine forests surrounded by verdant vegetation, this archipelago is undoubtedly one of mother nature’s finest Italian creations. Head to uninhabited Spargi to lose yourself in one of the last untouched landscapes in the Mediterranean. A protected nature reserve, Spargi offers the chance to dust off your hiking boots. Here you can get up close with some remarkable wildlife, including dolphins, turtles, ospreys and even the odd wild boar! The entire island chain is home to some incredible geological formations and picturesque grottos. Explore these ancient rock formations carved by waves, wind, and time, and pay a visit to the Capella della Madonetta, where a tiny church clings to the granite rock overlooking the sea.

Authentic Italy

Although La Maddalena is a top spot for those in the know, it has not experienced the same rapid increase in tourism as Sardinia and Corsica, meaning you can still find the most authentic Italian lifestyle and cuisine. Whilst the large majority of the islands are uninhabited, the main island has a vibrant cultural scene. Unique dining experiences abound here, with fresh fish and seafood in abundance, caught locally that very day! The many smaller harbours and fishing villages around the islands showcase the very best of Italian hospitality. Here you can wander through charming winding streets, chatting with locals and enjoying gelato and espresso at every turn.

Underwater Delights

La Maddalena is known for having some of Europe’s most pristine underwater ecosystems, untouched by pollution and mass overcrowding. Both Chronos and Agave carry a range of water toys, including snorkel gear and paddleboards, meaning you can truly immerse yourself in this underwater paradise. Spiaggia Di Cala Coticcio is a favourite anchorage of Agave. The waters here are so clear that you get a glimpse of the hidden delights below before even stepping foot off the boat. Dive straight in to discover an underwater paradise teeming with vibrant coral and shoals of fish darting beneath the waves. Perhaps you’ll even spot some of the local turtles, dolphins or whales on your underwater adventures in Italy.

Why you should visit La Maddalena on a sailing holiday

Undoubtedly the best way to take advantage of all that La Maddalena has to offer is on a sailing holiday! Not only will you be able to see the archipelago from a unique perspective on the water, you’ll also reach some of the most remote parts of the archipelago that are only accessible by boat. As you sail around the islands, you’ll be able to soak in the stunning scenery without having to worry about overcrowding or noise pollution from other tourists. You’ll have time to swim, snorkel, and even fish on the way to each anchorage each day. From exploring sweeping bays dotted with ancient villages to encountering playful dolphins just off the bow – a voyage around these islands will be an unforgettable experience. You’ll quickly see why this archipelago is referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’.

So if you’re looking for an unforgettable escape from everyday life, set sail to La Maddalena. Join us on a sailing holiday with classic yacht Chronos or luxury catamaran Agave.

Low Carbon Luxury Travel

Aerial View of Petit St Vincent in the Caribbean

With the environment firmly pushed to the forefront of our consumer conscience, more and more of us are seeking sustainable holidays. At VentureSail Holidays we are proud that each of our sailing holidays offers low-impact travel. Combine this with our luxury sailing fleet, Chronos, Rhea, Kairos, and Stella Oceana all weave in high-end, stylish sophistication to holidays at sea.

Explore some of the world’s most beautiful destinations under sail without any compromise on comfort – welcome to low carbon luxury travel.

Zero-emission miles

The pure joy of being on deck of a beautiful ship with the wind in your hair and sun on your face is undeniable. This wonderful form of travel has the added benefit of being largely emission-free, with all our vessels operating under sail as much as possible. Our skippers are true mariners and avoid turning the ships engines on unless they really have to! Certain weather/tidal conditions can make it necessary, as well as safely entering some ports/harbours but otherwise, all ventures are predominantly under sail. In addition, the destinations and routes are chosen for their favourable sailing conditions allowing guests to drink in the fresh sea air far away from exhaust fumes emitted by larger vessels. The gentle swish of the wind in the sails is a far more comfortable experience than the constant chug of a diesel engine.

Sustainable, locally sourced produce

A day at sea is guaranteed to work up an appetite and all our guests enjoy fabulous food whilst sailing with us. As our vessels operate with small guest numbers, they are able to easily source local produce along the way having formed strong relationships with various suppliers over the years. Guests will regularly see the onboard chefs buying fish or lobster straight off the local fishing boats as they come alongside – from sea to boat to plate in less than a day.

Sometimes, local farms will deliver to the dockside dropping off eggs, milks and meats ready for our onboard chefs to whip up mouthwatering meals and tasty treats served by the maitre’d. Good food is something we pride ourselves on and there is little to no food waste either!



Working with local communities

Our boats pride themselves on ensuring they work closely with local communities wherever they sail. This is particularly true in Indonesia where our pinisi boats Katharina and Ombak Putih visit island communities far off the beaten track. The owners have spent many years forging good connections and relationships with local villages. Mindful not to arrive en-masse, all visits are planned ahead with the local villages so they can be ready to show small groups around without disturbing the environment – these guided tour fees are paid directly back to the community.

Small ships sailing with less than 20 passengers are always far less disrupting to both the local communities as well as the natural environment. Something which is particularly notable in destinations such as the Caribbean and Svalbard where even smaller cruise ships loom like skyscrapers with over 200 guests descending into a small remote location. 

Reef-safe products

Each boat uses sustainable products with all guests are also encouraged to bring reef-safe sunscreen and toiletries. Each skipper is a passionate advocate of the environment taking pure pleasure from talking with guests about any impactful changes they can make to their lives to continue their low-carbon mission back at home.



Impactful Changes

The magic of travelling under sail is captivating, enabling guests to switch off and feel at one with the world around them. This in itself automatically builds a connection with the natural environment and we see a positive shift in guests psyches. We love hearing how much the ventures have left guests being mindful about their life choices and effects on the environment.

We know that our ventures offer low-carbon luxury but don’t just take our word for it. We recently hosted Chris Haslam, the Chief Writer for The Sunday Times Travel having enticed him to experience the Caribbean under sail. As he concludes;
But we’ve travelled close to 200 zero-emission miles under sail, spent time and money in communities otherwise cut off from the mainstream tourist trade and swum off some awfully pretty, awfully empty beaches. So if you consider long-haul flights to be a sin, Captain van Middelkoop can offer absolution.

You can learn more and read his article here or select your low-carbon luxury holiday today >

Your guide to a Sailing Holiday in the Aeolian Islands

salina aeolian islands florette resized

White washed harbour towns, ancient UNESCO sites and volcanic wonders abound in the Aeolian islands. If you’re looking for an authentic Mediterranean travel experience, a sailing holiday in the Aeolian islands certainly ticks a lot of boxes! The crowded hotspots of Italy’s Amalfi coast or even Sicily seem a world away in this idyllic archipelago. Delight in the natural wonders of this UNESCO world heritage site, hike to your hearts content and indulge in the local Italian cuisine. Keep reading to discover our guide to the very best of the Aeolian islands.

MED aeolian Islands

Why Choose a Sailing Holiday in the Aeolian islands?

A sailing holiday in the Aeolian islands is the best way to explore and admire the breathtaking natural beauty of each individual island, waking up to a new view each day. For the active traveller, find adventure and hands on sailing on traditional brigantine Florette. Or, for some classic Mediterranean relaxation, unwind in luxury on yacht Chronos and schooner Kairós.

Our Guide to the Aeolian Islands

Seven islands make up the Aeolian archipelago: Alicudi, Filicudi, Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli and Vulcano. The archipelago derives its name from Greek mythology, as the god of the wind, Aeolus, once lived here, making it the perfect destination for a sailing holiday powered by the wind! These fascinating islands are distinguished by their distinctive volcanic landscape. Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Sicily, they are sometimes also referred to as the Sicilian islands.

Lipari

Dreaming of a picture perfect Italian summer? There’s nowhere better than Lipari. Although it may be the largest of the Aeolian islands, Lipari still retains its authentic Sicilian character. Often called the best Aeolian island, once you’ve arrived into port you’ll soon discover why! Start your exploration with a stroll through the old town. The main street of Corso Vittorio Emmanuele is home to an abundance of colourful shops and cafes, waiting to tempt you with fresh gelato and espresso.

lipari aeolian islands


It’s not just the picture perfect scenery that’s to love in Lipari. Culture lovers will be in paradise with the opportunities to discover ancient history up close. Explore the fortified headland and the former citadel where the heart of the town used to lay. Strolling through the castle walls, you’ll soon find yourself immersed in life from centuries past. Whilst passing through an excavated area of the citadel you’ll get a first hand view of the history of our civilisation, with remnants of neolithic times and the Greek and Roman civilisations that once inhabited this island. Unsurprisingly, Lipari is home to one of Europe’s best archaeological museums, well worth a visit on your Mediterranean adventure. 

Stromboli

The active volcano of Stromboli is a fascinating sight to see while on holiday in the Aeolian islands – a true natural spectacle. With regular “minor” volcanic eruptions, the island holds the nickname ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. The sparks of glowing lava mean Stromboli has been an orientation point for seafarers at night since ancient times, although our fleet now uses slightly more sophisticated orientation methods. Still, it’s a marvel to sit on deck, watching in wonder as the volcano sparks and spews lava, illuminating the sky with a fiery glow, just as sailors have done for centuries before you. 

Before you’ve even arrived at the dock of Stromboli you may sail past the small islet of Strombolicchio. ‘Small Stromboli’, is home to the remains of the original ancient volcano that has since collapsed into the sea. Arriving into the port, you’ll get an incredible view of the volcano that awaits your exploration. If you’re in need of some old fashioned relaxation, visit one of the best hidden beaches in the Aeolian islands, Grotta di Eolo. Notable for its secret cave formed by the volcanic landscape of Stromboli, with fine black sand, the beach is a favourite of the locals.

Salina

Known as the Green island, Salina has become a hub of agriculture, with an amazing array of local Italian produce. It also makes the cut in the debate over which is the best Aeolian island, having won the title of most beautiful island in Italy. Olive groves and vineyards stretch for miles, making it any gourmet lover’s dream destination. Indulge in the famous local dessert wine, ‘Malvasia delle Lipari’, for a true Italian taste for the senses, and sample some local nibbles, including the region’s world famous capers. 

You do not need to be a culinary connoisseur to enjoy all that the island of Salina has to offer. A holiday in the Aeolian islands is a top choice for all active travellers wanting to get their hiking boots out. Salina is home to the highest peak in the entire archipelago. Take a meandering hike immersed in the pine and chestnut forests, and before long you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the entire island chain, perhaps even spotting your own boat anchored in the bay.

Vulcano

Although it is home to an active volcano, wellness takes centre stage in Vulcano. The island is best known for it’s sulphur deposits, lauded for their healing powers for centuries. Wallow in purifying mud and enjoy a healing sulphur bath, leaving with glowing skin and an inner sense of calm. 

If a mud bath doesn’t quite entice you on your holiday in the Aeolian islands, why not try a relaxing bathe in the sea close to shore? Here, fumaroles, sulphurous gases that rise from the sea bed, create nature’s very own version of a hot tub with added healing properties!

Panarea

The smallest of the seven islands, don’t discount Panarea as a contender for the best Aeolian island. Elegant and chic, it provides a lovely balance to the wild and untamed nature found on other Aeolian islands. As one of the most expensive destinations to visit in the Mediterranean, a sailing holiday is the best way to stay in close proximity without breaking the bank. Admire the views from the boat and hop ashore to explore. 

Step off the boat at the port of San Pietro, where you can find the iconic Mediterranean picture perfect architecture. The labyrinth of streets are lined with white washed houses with dazzling blue roofs, enveloped in sweet smelling bougainvillaea plants. Whilst exploring Panarea, make sure to pay a visit to the church of San Pietro. Dedicated to the patron saint of the island and fishermen, the church has a fascinating history and an incredible view of the sea where your vessel will be docked.

Ready for a sailing holiday in the Aeolian Islands?

If you’re ready to experience a picture perfect Italian getaway, jump on board a sailing holiday in the Aeolian Islands with us. Anchor in secluded bays, explore quintessential Italian harbour towns, hike volcanic trails and wonder at the many UNESCO hotspots.

With breakfast freshly prepared for you on all our voyages (and included in the price!), spend each morning relaxing on deck whilst planning your adventure for the day. All our sailing holidays in the Aeolian islands have on-board water toys, allowing you to swim, snorkel or paddle-board in the crystal clear waters whilst admiring the dark beaches made of fine, black lava sand. Choose from hands-on traditional sailing with historic brigantine Florette, or 5* luxury sailing with classic yachts Kairos and Chronos. No matter which you choose, a sailing holiday in the Aeolian islands is guaranteed to be a magical adventure you won’t soon forget!