Named by Greek settlers for Aeolus, the god of wind, the Aeolian Islands off the northern coast of Sicily lap up the Tyrrhenian Sea in mythical fashion. This archipelago of just seven islands remains one of Italy’s more off-the-beaten-path beach destinations. UNESCO protected since 2000, the Aeolian Islands provide all the makings for an idyllic beach getaway with their rocky volcanic coastlines, black sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and bubbling volcanoes. Accessed by ferry or hydrofoil from Milazzo or Palermo on Sicily, each island offers something different for sunseekers. Slather on your sunscreen for you’ll want to bask in these islands under the Aeolian sun.

Vulcano

Vulcano

You’ll smell Vulcano before you even set foot off the ferry! Most of the boats stop here first, whisking travelers into Vulcano’s sulfuric smell in an instant. The island is known for its mud baths and hot springs, said to possess restorative, albeit stinky, powers. And even if you aren’t into dipping in a mud bath and smelling like rotten eggs, Vulcano is worth a visit to scale its smoking volcano on the northeastern shore. Beach lovers aren’t disappointed here either; most hover along the smooth, black sands of Spiaggia Sabbia Nera.

Lipari

Lipari

The largest island in the Aeolian chain, Lipari is the heart of the archipelago. You’ll have to pass through Lipari town at some point en route to the other islands. The busy port town offers plenty of activity, including its ancient Roman treasures at the Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano. Beyond the tourist shops and restaurants of Lipari town, beach seekers will want to explore the island’s more remote angles.

For centuries, Lipari served as a hub for pumice production. You can still catch traces of that mining past at Spiaggia Bianca. Also called Spiaggia della Papesca, the beach sits just beyond the old pumice mines. Due to the white pumice dust that once covered the shores, Spiaggia Bianca boasts crystal clear turquoise waters, a hue that rivals the Caribbean in terms of clarity.

Salina

Salina, Italy

Lush Salina revels in being the second largest in the archipelago but with a more laid-back, old-world feel than Lipari. You can’t help but notice upon arrival its two towering peaks, Monte dei Porri and Monte Fossa delle Felci, the Aeolina’s tallest peaks. Hikes up Monte Fossa delle Felci offer commanding views on clear days. If you’d rather not work up a sweat, Salina allows you to take a dip in Italian film history. Spiaggia di Pollara on Salina’s western edge was featured in the famous 1994 film Il Postino. Its clear waters backed by volcanic cliffs lends one idyllic day at the beach.

Panarea

Panarea

For those who prefer to see and be seen, the Aeolians have Panarea. The poshest and most expensive island in the chain, Panarea is frequented by a jet setting crowd who come by way of a private yacht, but the average Joe and Jane can still appreciate the whitewashed buildings and car-free streets of the main port of San Pietro. While Panarea is the smallest of the Aeolians, it packs in the punch with chic boutiques, glitzy hotels, and shimmering beaches. You can park your beach bag at Cala Juno, a captivating cove with ideal blue-green colored water. You can also frequent more remote beaches from Panarea by visiting its handful of offshore islands. A number of boats can take you to these rocky outcroppings off the island’s eastern coast.

Stromboli

Stromboli, Italy

When you first lay your eyes on Stromboli, you might erupt over its seemingly symmetrical volcano. Known for its smoldering crater, there’s little to the island beyond its permanent fireworks display. You can climb up the 924-meter volcano and see its constant eruptions. When you need to cool off from the trek, Stromboli’s volcanic makeup has lent a number of black sand beaches like Spiaggia di Ficogrande to idle the afternoon away.

Filicudi

Filicudi

Rugged through and through, Filicudi presents one of the island chain’s most remote puzzle pieces. Home to just a handful of villages and virtually no development, you might wonder why come all the way to Filicudi. However, the island’s rocky coastline has lent some prime diving conditions. Off Capo Graziano, divers delight in the Museo Archeologico Sottomarino, home to a number of ancient Greek and Roman shipwrecks. Filicudi also boasts pebbly shores to stretch out on, or you can rent a boat to find more remote coves.

Alicudi

Alicudi, Italy

Home to a population that hovers around 100, Alicudi is easily the Aeolian island that prefers splendid isolation, resting in the chain’s far western stretches. Remote to the core, Alicudi’s only forms of transport are by boat or mule. Sunseekers will find quiet stretches of beach around the port to take a dip in the clearest of water. For more active pursuits, you can climb up Alicudi’s main peak, Filo dell’Arpa. Upon reaching the summit, you’ll be able to spot the six other Aeolian Islands floating in the sea.

Have you been to the Aeolian Islands? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.