Serious swimmers and divers know that one of the most spectacular and pristine coasts in the entire Mediterranean lie just 90 minutes south of Positano.
Here are some of the best places in Italy suitable for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- The Cilento Peninsula. This is a fairy-tale series of quiet coves and thrilling grottos, where you can swim in the phosphorescent glow and practice your skills at making echoes. Points of unusual interest include the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), Grotta d’Argento (Silver Grotto), Cala della Lanterna (Lantern Cove), and Grotta del Sangue (Blood Grotto), so-named for the streaks of red minerals on its walls.
- Capo Vaticano. This is a diver’s dream come true. It offers a wide variety of spectacular cliffs, transparent water, abundant fish, and deserted coves reached only from the sea. You will be able to arrange boat trips to the best diving spots.
- Gaeta. The area consistently wins awards for its crystal clear waters, which are actually part of a protected marine park. Because it is not a world-famed resort like the nearby Amalfi Coast is not overly crowded and motorboats are not allowed in the coves, where rocky cliffs plunge straight down into the warm, calm sea. People have been diving here since the days when it was a popular getaway for Roman Emperors and their retinues, and it is not uncommon to find shards and other relics from antiquity. Gaeta is relatively easy to get to because it doesn’t require travel by boat. It’s about 90 minutes south of Rome or Fiumicino Airport, and equally far north of Sorrento.
- Lipari. This is the largest and “most civilized” of the Aeolian Islands and has the most hotels and restaurants. It is also the oldest, which means that its volcanic lava surface has had time to be refined into the whitest sands, giving most of its hillsides the look of snowy alpine slopes. The sand drifts down to the shore, creating sparkling beaches and seabed the color of Seven-Up. When you visit this part of the world, we recommend you stay on Lipari, because it has a broader selection of hotels, restaurants and things to do, as well as a world-class ancient history and art museum. Click here for our favorite lodgings on Lipari.
- Salina. It has barren salt flats, an extensive wildlife reserve, and beaches that are accessible almost exclusively by sea. There are also acres of beautifully tended low-to-the-ground vineyards yielding a prestigious vintage called Malvasia, and veritable plantations of the best capers on earth.