Welcome to an extraordinary sailing trip through the Mediterranean volcanoes, as the Octopus delves into the remarkable volcanic history of the Mediterranean Sea. For millennia, the Mediterranean has been a hotbed of volcanic activity, its depths harbouring a hidden world of tectonic forces and magma chambers. As tectonic plates collide and diverge along the region’s fault lines, a symphony of volcanic processes unfolds. It gives birth to awe-inspiring landscapes that blend natural beauty with raw power.
From the renowned volcanic arcs of Italy, including the legendary Vesuvius and Stromboli, to the striking islands of Santorini in Greece and Mount Etna in Sicily. Exploring volcanoes by boat offers an extraordinary perspective, enabling you to witness their majestic views from the water. The vantage point from a sailboat provides panoramic views, proximity with safety, dynamic perspectives and an environment of serenity for reflection. It’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and geological wonders of volcanoes. For example, volcanic calderas, lava fields, and underwater volcanoes that silently dot the depths of the Mediterranean.
Hoist the sails and prepare to embark on a journey like no other, let’s explore the best anchorages with a unique view of some of the most famous Mediterranean volcanoes.
The best volcanic anchorages on the Mediterranean
Baia di Taormina
Nestled along the stunning east coastline of Sicily, the Baia di Taormina offers a captivating view of the majestic Mount Etna. It is known as the tallest active volcano in Europe, standing at approximately 3,350 metres tall. Etna is not only home to unique species to this region like the Etna Wall Lizard but legend has it that Mount Etna is believed to be the forge of Hephaestus. He is the god of fire and blacksmithing in Greek mythology. Indeed, a volcano seems like a suitable place for the god of fire.
As you approach the bay you will be greeted by an awe-inspiring panorama that combines the azure waters of the Mediterranean sea with the ash coloured majestic vertical cliffs of the volcano. The anchorage Baia di Taormina is spacious, offering great natural protection against wind and swell from west to northwest by the west. The seabed consists of sand and rocks ensuring good holding for your anchor according to the Navily community. Moreover, it is more calm than the south side of the same bay. This allows you to admire the surrounding of the volcano in tranquillity and take advantage of the activities on the volcano.
Although Mount Etna is still active you can immerse yourself in this lunar landscape by participating in guided hiking groups to multiple summit craters like Voragine and Bocca Nuova Crater. Finally, you can explore the geology and rich volcanic ecosystem of the underwater formation Etna Volcano by booking a scuba diving experience.
The Octopus knows you are starting to get excited thus, it won’t leave you hanging. Let’s embark on our next adventure to the Mediterranean volcano Stromboli.
Next stopover is on Stromboli Island, part of the volcanic archipelago Aeolian Islands. The bay of Ficogrande is located just on the northeast tip of the island, providing an excellent vantage point for observing the volcanic activity of Stromboli. In this regard, the volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, known for its nearly continuous volcanic activity for at least the last 2000 years. Despite this fact you will be surprised to find out that Stromboli is inhabited with a small population residing on the island.
As you sail towards the bay of Ficogrande, you will be surrounded by ancient volcanic formations, displaying an array of earthy tones, from deep browns to fiery reds. Lush green vegetation clings to the rocky slopes, offering a vibrant contrast against the volcanic backdrop. Looking inland, you see the charming village that surrounds the bay. You can anchor on sandy bottoms near the beach on the west because the seabed is quite rocky as you get closer to the pier. The anchorage is well protected from southwestern to southeastern winds by the south.
Once well anchored you can finally admire the fascinating landscape unfolding in front of your eyes. If you feel like going on an adventure, Stromboli offers a rare opportunity to hike up to its summit and witness the volcanic activity up close. Moreover, you can go on a one hour walk to Beach Forgia Vecchia where black sand kisses the turquoise water, making it the perfect picture spot.
Finally, you can enjoy the evening atmosphere. Stromboli is often referred to as the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” due to its frequent explosive eruptions. They create a burning spectacle of stunning bursts of lava visible even from far distances, especially at night.
Rada di Mergellina
We are continuing our sailing trip on the Mediterranean volcanoes with another stop in Italy – Mount Vesuvius. It is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its proximity to the city of Naples. It is also best known for its catastrophic eruption which famously buried the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under layers of ash and volcanic debris. The anchorage Rada di Mergellina bay is situated on the coastline of Naples, providing breathtaking views on the west side of the volcano and Ovo Castle.
Mount Vesuvius is a place that frightens and fascinates at the same time. From Rada di Mergelina, you can witness the majestic presence of Mount Vesuvius rising dramatically in the distance. The sight of the iconic volcano, with its distinctive cone shape adds a touch of awe-inspiring beauty to the bay’s panorama. The anchorage is vast and spacious, naturally protected from northwest to east by the north. Finally, the seabed consists of soft sand and mud ensuring good holding for your anchor.
The volcano offers you plenty of activities to explore its history and conspicuous beauty. At its summit, there is a large crater known as the Gran Cono, which is still active and emits gases and steam. In addition, you can join a guided tour of Mount Vesuvius which provides knowledge about the volcano’s history, geology, and cultural significance.
Moreover, the slopes of the volcano are the antecedent to vineyards that produce the renowned wines of the region. Thus, you can consider visiting one of the local wineries for a tasting experience. There you can sample these distinct wines while enjoying the backdrop of the volcano.
Finally, after this long day of sailing and exploring this natural wonder, it is time to slow down and unwind. The bay offers an exquisite setting to witness the mesmerising sunset illuminating Mount Vesuvius.
Porto di Ponente
The Octopus leads you to its final stop in Italy, this time we are on the island of Vulcano, north of Sicily. The volcano’s geothermal activity results in the release of sulfuric gases, creating a distinct sulfuric smell in the air. You will sense it upon your arrival at Porto di Ponente bay. Moreover, in relation to Mount Etna, this volcano also has mythological connections. In Roman mythology, Vulcan (equivalent to the Greek god Hephaestus) was the god of volcanic fire and blacksmithing.
As you approach the anchorage you can not escape the ubiquitous feeling of admiration in front of the unfurling volcanic landscape. A stratification of earth and vegetation forming rugged terrain and the distinctive volcanic cones. Then you will see that the lower slopes are adorned with lush vegetation, including Mediterranean shrubs and aromatic herbs, thriving in the fertile volcanic soil. As you ascend further, the greenery gradually gives way to rugged volcanic rocks, revealing the raw and dramatic nature of the volcano. Before you can go to take an up close look of the volcano you can anchor on Porto di Ponente bay, sheltered from the winds coming from the north, east and southwest. The anchorage is very well protected and a good hold is also guaranteed in the sand.
According to the Navily community the ascent to the crater is a must. Adventurous hikers can embark on a trek to the Gran Cratere, the highest point of Mount Vulcano. The trail takes you through lunar-like landscapes, past volcanic vents, and across rocky terrain. For those seeking rejuvenation, Vulcano offers therapeutic natural hot springs, known as “Pozza dei Fanghi.”
At last you can finish the day on the beach Baia Negra or on your boat enjoying the burning sunset at Porto di Ponente. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky is painted in vibrant shades of gold, orange, and pink, casting a magical glow over the bay.
Port of Palon
Our sailing tour of the Mediterranean volcanoes would not be complete if the Octopus didn’t show you the hidden volcanoes of Greece. This time we are going to the northern tip of Nisyros Island on marina Port of Palon. The volcanic activity on Nisyros has created fascinating geological features, including the “Polyvotis”. They are small craters with boiling mud and bubbling mineral-rich water.
Nisyros volcano is characterised by a large caldera and within the caldera lies Stefanos, the main crater of Nisyros volcano. It is a mesmerising sight, with a diameter of approximately 300 metres and steep walls covered in colourful mineral deposits. Stefanos crater emits sulfuric gases, creating an otherworldly ambiance. For a secure stay you can anchor your vessel on the marina Port of Palon. It is a small harbour, well-sheltered from southwest to southeast by the south, offering 30 berths and providing all essential amenities.
To make the most of your stay, make sure you explore the surroundings. Nisyros boasts traditional Greek villages which offer charming whitewashed houses, narrow streets, and stunning views of the surrounding caldera.
Finally, the volcano Nisyros is famous for its therapeutic thermal springs, known as Loutra. These natural hot springs offer visitors a chance to relax and rejuvenate in mineral-rich waters. Indeed, the Nisyros volcano is a captivating destination that seamlessly combines natural beauty, geological wonders, and cultural heritage.
Archipelago of Santorini - Perissa
For the final stopover The Octopus leads you to a different type of volcano. Arriving on the islands on the Archipelago of Santorini might surprise you with the absence of majestic craters. However, don’t be fooled, the archipelago is known for its unique geological underwater volcanoes a.k.a. seamounts.
Perissa bay on the east coast of Santorini is a great place to anchor to get away from the tourist crowds. The anchorage features sandbanks of good holding. Moreover, it is naturally protected from winds and swells from west to northwest by the north.
Once well anchored you can finally contemplate the curves of the mountainous relief of the caldera wall on the island. In this respect, the island’s most famous natural feature is the crescent-shaped Santorini Caldera. It was formed by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The caldera is now filled with seawater, creating a breathtaking natural harbour.
These submerged volcanoes contribute to the unique geological and ecological diversity of the area. In this regard, you can not only admire the surroundings from afar but you can also go scuba diving in the Santorini Caldera.
Finally, guided by experienced operators, you’ll discover ancient lava flows, and intriguing geological features, such as underwater caves and dramatic rock formations. This seems like the perfect ending of exploring the Archipelago of Santorini.
This was the last stop of our sailing tour. Whether it’s the iconic Stromboli in Italy, the mystical Santorini in Greece, or the hidden gems like Nisyros or Vulcano, sailing to the volcanoes of the Mediterranean is a remarkable voyage. It will leave a lasting impression on all who dare to embark on this extraordinary maritime expedition.
We hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as The Octopus did and that it will inspire your future boat trip to the volcanoes of the Mediterranean Sea. Check out other articles about anchorages in this geographic area : Aeolian Islands, Ionian Islands.
We also recommend a very interesting documentary about Mediterranean volcanoes you can enjoy for free on Youtube! A beautiful underwater adventure led by marine biologist and professional diver Laurent Balesta.