While poet John Donne may have concluded that no man, (or woman for that matter) is an island, entire of itself, some of us would prefer the splendid isolation that comes for stepping foot on tiny lands that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten. In the Mediterranean, you can escape the crowds and throngs of tourists by seeking out some of the areas more off the radar spots, namely lesser-known islands where the noise and chaos of life fade away. Tiny but mighty, these islands certainly won’t disappoint come summer!
Pack your sunscreen and read on to learn about the Mediterranean islands you’ve probably never heard of!
Part of the UNESCO listed Aeolian archipelago, the island of Salina sits just above Sicily. While the second largest island in the archipelago, Salina has escaped popularity to still offer that end of the world feel. Shaped by two extinct volcanoes, Monte Fossa delle Felci and Monte dei Porri, Salina lends high coastal cliffs and a lush verdant landscape. Its vineyards produce some of the area’s legendary sweet Malvasia wine. You can hole up in one of the island’s sleepy villages and spend your days taking dips off of pebbly beaches. Salina has even starred on the big scene when several scenes from the film Il Postino were filmed on site.
Most travelers have heard of the likes of Ibiza and Mallorca in the Balearic Islands of Spain but few have ventured to Cabrera. Part of the same island chain, Cabrera sits just over an hour by boat from Mallorca. The uninhabited islet boasts one of the best-conserved sea beds on the Spanish coast. While mostly just composed of a crumbling 14th-century castle and a lighthouse, Cabrera is known for its rare wildlife like the Balearic Shearwater. With just one hostel on the island, Cabrera offers a truly isolating feeling in the midst of one of Spain’s most popular island chains.
Greece boasts over 200 islands, many of which you can escape the rest of the world like on Folegandros. While the hordes of tourists head for Santorini and Mykonos, Folegandros offers a much quieter and slower pace in the same island chain of the Cyclades. Set on the southern edge of the Cyclades, Folegandros is tiny to be sure, measuring 12 kilometers by 4 kilometers. Remote and rugged, Folegandros once acted as a place of exile for political prisoners from Roman times up until the 20th century. Now you can exile yourself to Folegandros and enjoy terraced farm fields, whitewashed buildings, sheer cliff drops and the bluest of blue waters.
Croatia’s islands have been in the spotlight in recent years with spots like Hvar and Vis becoming summer vacation mainstays. However, some of the country’s islands have escaped mass tourism like Susak. The small island sits on the northern Adriatic coast and measures just 3 square kilometers. A former Roman settlement, Susak is home to less than 200 inhabitants throughout the year. With no nightclubs, no banks and no cars, you can get away from it all and lap up Susak’s stone built streets and soft sands in peace.
Upon setting foot in Cavallo, it’s easy to see how the Romans took its stones for sculpture and construction beginning in the second century. The rock island just off the coast of Corsica sits in the Lavezzi archipelago. Only a mile and a quarter long, Cavallo has remained a secret thanks in part to its privately owned status. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter. If you do reach Cavallo, you are rewarded for your efforts with crystal clear water for snorkeling and diving.
Closer to Tunisia than Sicily, Pantelleria has earned the moniker of the black pearl of the Mediterranean thanks to its rugged landscape and black lava cliffs. The unique island is one of the least known in Italy and rewards travelers with its out of this world black volcanic landscape. With mostly just coves and cliffs to swim off of, Pantelleria has escaped tourism thanks to its lack of traditional beaches. However, that doesn’t mean the island isn’t worthy of a visit. Pantelleria affords the rare opportunity to swim in a lake in a volcanic crater. Called Specchio di Venere, or Venus’ Looking Glass, the lake is fed by rainwater and hot springs. The waters are known for its therapeutic powers.
Have you found a secret island in the Mediterranean? Share your favorite island hideaway with us in the comments below.